TAMPA - The couple who authorities say kidnapped their two non-custodial boys were seen leaving John's Pass in a 25-foot sailboat hours after the abduction in Tampa, according to a Hillsborough Sheriff's spokesman.
The search for the boys has now shifted to the Gulf of Mexico. It was not known in which direction the vessel was heading.
"The Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife, every asset that's available, some type of marine or air unit is going to be looking for this boat," said sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon. "We're going to asking other boaters... The U.S. Coast Guard is going to be hailing the boating channels and frequencies to try and get out the word out to keep an eye out for this boat."
McKiinon said investigators cannot rule out the possibility that Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, along with their two boys, Chase and Cole, may already be back on land and in another vehicle.
He added it appears to be part of a coordinated plan and that the sailboat was made available prior to the abduction.
"These are not dumb people. They're very intelligent people with some emotional issues. Our goal is to still resolve this peacefully," McKinnon said.
Joshua Hakken recently purchased a 1972 Morgan 25M (25 foot) sailboat. The boat has a blue bimini top, and a white mainsail. The boat deck and cabin are white, the hull is blue with the word "Salty" and a paw print in white displayed on both sides, with a white stripe near the water line. The vessel bears Florida Boat Registration #FL3717BK, HUL #M252099. There may be a yellow horseshoe life preserver on deck.
Click the video player above to see the latest reports and a media briefing from Friday afternoon.
Hakken's 2006 black GMC Sierra, found late Thursday at a parking garage at John's Pass, was brought to Tampa for processing.
The truck was abandoned in the John's Pass Parking Garage located at 12901 Gulf Blvd. on Madeira Beach.
Pinellas County deputies initially responded after someone reported seeing a vehicle that matched a description on Amber Alerts issued across the Southeast. Four states issued the alerts including Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
Chase and Cole Hakken were still wearing their pajamas when deputies say their own parents took them by force from a Lake Magdalene home.
Listen to the grandmother's 911 call at http://wfts.tv/10zPqyb .
"The grandfather had left for work. The break-in occurred shortly after -- that's when he accosted her, tied her up and then took off with the children in the car," said Corporal Bodie.
Just two and four years old, the brothers lived with their grandparents, who had temporary custody.
FBI agents are working with local law enforcement to find the two- and four-year-old and their parents. They say color billboards are going up around the Southeast and Southwest.
Detectives also say they've received tips about several sightings of the Hakken family in several different states. Authorities in Southeastern Tennessee put out a statewide Amber Alert Wednesday night after a reported sighting near Etowah, Tennessee in the area of Highway 30 and Highway 411. The location is on the edge of the Smoky Mountains.
"We have at this point received tips from various states alleging sightings of the children and family. We are working with our law enforcement partners and the FBI and trying to vet those tips and see if it is accurate information," said Colonel Lusczynski.
"We don't expect or anticipate them hurting the children and we're hoping again that this just comes down to a very peaceful situation where we can resolve the situation and potentially maybe even put the family back together," said FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier.
Louisiana Police says Joshua and Sharyn Hakken lost custody of the boys after a bizarre encounter in 2012. A Slidell Police Department detective tells us by phone they were called to a disturbance at a hotel.
"Mr. Hakken was in possession of narcotics and he had some weapons with him. At that point in time, he was placed under arrest," said Slidell Police Detective Daniel Seuzeneau.
"They were speaking some bizarre words that alarmed our officers. They were talking about going to California and when I read the report yesterday, it was something towards the effect of they were trying to beat the Armageddon and get to California which was, obviously, very bizarre," he said.
Louisiana detectives say the couple told officers they were trying to beat "Armageddon" and "complete their ultimate journey." They also say the father tried to kidnap the boys at gunpoint from a foster care home in Louisiana but failed.
Law enforcement has characterized the couple at "anti-government" but aren't sure where they are headed or why.
"Anytime something like this happens there's usually at least one person that knows something that's going on and we're hoping that that person will come forward and at least provide some advice or even some input or perspective as to the mindset of what they're
really looking to do here," said FBI Special Agent Couvertier.