HOPE was the only emotion Royal Wootton Bassett pensioner Albert Davey could hold on to last night as the US Coast Guard resumed its search of the Atlantic Ocean for his nephew Steve Warren and his fellow crew.

Steve, 52, of West Camel in Somerset, is one of four yachtsmen who have gone missing after their 40ft racing yacht, Cheeki Rafiki, ran into difficulties 1,000km east of Cape Cod last Thursday.

The group were sailing from a regatta in Antigua back to the UK when it got into difficulties and the initial search by the Coast Guard had ended on Sunday, after they had searched for twice as long as standard procedures require, with a combination of air and sea sorties.

The family had launched an online petitioon calling for the search to be restarted.

Albert, 76, of Longleaze, is staying in Bridgwater, Somerset, to be near to his sister-in-law, Margaret, Steve’s mother.

“I’m very pleased with the news. We are disappointed however, three days have elapsed. We are where we are,” he said.

“All we can do now is hope that the search will reveal they’re alive. It’s such a difficult period for us all. My wife’s grief has overcome her anger she’s felt every minute since the Coast Guard called the search off.

“As each hour has passed all she has wanted is for them to continue. We truly believe the petition has helped in getting the authorities to change their mind in searching. People power has changed things.

“Had we just accepted as it was, that would’ve been the end of it. Nothing would have changed.”

The petition at change.org had reached close to 210,000 signatures when the Adver went to press, and the weight of public support for the search was cited by US Coast Guard as the reason for sending out planes and ships once again. “We have got to be positive and hold on hope,” Albert said.

“At least we know something’s happening. To see every hour go by, can only worsen the conditions they have to put up with out there.

“That image of a life raft in a vast ocean isn’t easy to live with.”

Albert said his sister-in-law Margaret first heard of the difficulties her son and his crewmates, Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset, Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham, Surrey, the yacht’s skipper, and 23-year-old James Male, from Southampton, on Saturday morning.

“We have all been feeling dreadful about it. Margaret has had such a rough deal in life.

“Her husband died at 49 following heart surgery, then her son died suddenly at 41, and her daughter is now fighting breast cancer,” said Albert, who used to work at Burderop Hospital near Wroughton.

“You just feel so very much for her. How much can one person take?”