James "Jim" Metlicka, 11-20-04
Nick Mayer

Coast Guard halts search for boaters
JUNEAU: Family, friends continue to look for two men.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: November 23, 2004)
The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday suspended a search for two best friends, including an Eagle River man, whose boat was found capsized near Juneau on Saturday. The Coast Guard considered their chance of survival unlikely, a spokesperson said.

Family members, friends and other volunteer searchers are continuing to look, though.

James "Jim" Metlicka, 30, of Eagle River, and Nick Mayer, 30, of Hoonah, near Juneau, intended to pull crab pots and hunt deer. They took off in Met- licka's 26-foot cabin cruiser, the Julie K, Saturday morning from Juneau. Late in the afternoon, the Julie K was seen capsized near Horse Island, about 12 miles west of Juneau, said Coast Guard Petty Officer James Childress.

The Coast Guard found two dead dogs in the overturned cabin of the boat, one belonging to Metlicka, the other to Mayer. They also found a float coat, an immersion suit and multiple personal flotation devices. The families said they do not believe the men made it off the boat with any survival gear.

The boat was about 600 yards from Horse Island, the Coast Guard said.

"It must have all happened so fast," said Holly Kikendall, Metlicka's sister, in a phone interview. She speculated that they might have been pulling a crab pot when the boat overturned in choppy waters.

The Coast Guard deployed a helicopter and a boat, and used night-vision gear. Search-and-rescue dogs and their handlers combed the beaches of Horse Island and nearby Colt Island. Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Steve Hall said they found no evidence the men made it ashore.

Private airplanes and dozens of boats have been searching for the men even after the Coast Guard stopped looking, said the families. Friends with diving gear are also searching.

The two were best friends since they were 11 years old, said Mayer's mother, Linda Mayer. They met while attending elementary school together in Juneau and stayed best friends even when Metlicka moved to Eagle River in 1998. The Metlicka family kept a family home in Juneau, and his boat was based out of Juneau.

Nick Mayer, a father of two boys, works in construction, his mother said. Jim Metlicka is a part-owner of the family business, Alaska Foundation Technology, which specializes in building foundations.

"He's been on the water since he was a little boy," Kikendall said. "And he knows that area."

"We're all trying to hang in there," Linda Mayer said.

Daily News reporter Megan Holland can be reached at mrholland@adn.com.