Two experienced American sailors who had left Virginia and were spending the winter sailing in the Caribbean disappeared this month while sailing off Grenada, and their ship turned up empty in neighboring St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

His disappearance occurred around the same time that three men escaped from a prison in Grenada and fled by boat to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, authorities on those islands said.

In a statement, the Royal Grenada Police did not identify the two Americans but said they were investigating possible damage in connection with the prisoners’ escape.

According to the Salty Dawg Sailing Association, a nonprofit organization that brings together sailing and cruising enthusiasts, it was notified by a skipper on Feb. 21 that a member’s yacht named Simplicity was found anchored and abandoned off a beach in the south coast of Saint Vincent.

The skipper boarded the catamaran and observed that its owners were not on board, according to the association’s statement. The captain contacted the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard, which notified local police.

The owners of the missing boats were identified as Ralph Hendry, 66, and Kathy Brandel, 71, by the association and Ms. Brandel’s son, Nick Buro, who said the couple, originally from Virginia, were married for 27 years.

Mr. Hendry and Mrs. Brandel were experienced sailors who lived on their ship. They recently completed their yacht club’s “Caribbean Rally,” sailing from Hampton, Virginia, to the island of Antigua to end 2023 with a celebration, and would spend the rest of the winter sailing around the Caribbean, according to a statement from the club. .

The association said it had a tracking map to follow members’ boats and it showed the pair anchored in Grenada before docking off St Vincent. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard secured the ship and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police were investigating with the U.S. Embassy and the Royal Grenada Police Force, according to the association’s statement.

Separately, the Royal Grenada Police Force said in a statement on February 22 that three men who escaped from a prison in Grenada on February 18 headed to St. Vincent using a yacht that had been docked in the St. George area. in Granada. . The force said the ship’s two occupants, whom it did not name, were U.S. citizens.

The prisoners were recaptured on February 21, the same day the couple’s boat was found.

Grenada authorities identified the prisoners as Trevon Robertson, 19; Abita Estanislao, 25 years old; and Ron Mitchell, 30.

They had previously been charged, jointly, in a violent robbery case in December. Mitchell also faced several separate charges including causing harm, indecent assault and rape, Grenada police said.

In a joint family statement Saturday, Buro and Bryan Hendry, Hendry’s son, thanked the cruising community for their support and help in the search, but asked them to leave.

“We also want to applaud St. Vincent authorities for their quick actions to secure Simplicity and their brave and swift response that led to the arrest of three dangerous fugitives,” according to the family’s statement. He added: “We greatly appreciate the co-ordination of the Royal St Vincent and Grenadines Police and Coast Guard forces in the investigation of these events.”

The Royal Grenada Police Force did not respond to an investigation on Sunday. The department said in the statement that the investigation was “in its initial stages” and that a team of investigators and a forensic specialist had been sent to St. Vincent.

Bob Osborn, president of the yacht club, described the couple as loving and capable and their disappearance was “a very disturbing event.”

He added: “Our hopes and prayers are with Ralph and Kathy and the family that loves them.”

A GoFundMe page started by a family friend seeking to help with costs related to their disappearance described Mr. Hendry and Ms. Brandel as “seasoned adventurers” and said they had “spent their retirement sailing aboard the Simplicity, spending summers in New England and embracing the warmth of Caribbean winters.”

By Sam