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Fear Arises for Captain Donald Lawson En Route From Acapulco to Baltimore

It appears that Captain Donald Lawson of the ORMA 60 trimaran Defiant has encountered problems during a planned singlehanded passage from Acapulco to the Panama Canal, on his way to Baltimore. He left Acapulco on July 5, but has not been heard from since his tracker stopped on July 13 about 300 miles southwest of Acapulco.

Captain Donald Lawson
Captain Donald Lawson’s last known position on his PredictWind tracker.
© 2023 Predict Wind

According to Chesapeake Bay Magazine, his wife, Jacqueline, told Bay Bulletin that her last text from from Lawson was on July 12. In a prior communication on July 9, Lawson advised he was without engine power and relying solely on a wind generator. Jacqueline told Bay Bulletin that he lost his wind generator due to a storm on July 12.

His last known position was detected on July 13 at 1324 GMT (1:24 p.m.), updated through the PredictWind app at 12°13.475’N, 099°19.735’W.

The USCG has issued an AMVER report (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) to vessels within a 300-mile radius of Lawson’s last known position. All vessels in the area should be on the lookout for the 60-ft trimaran. Anyone with information should contact the US Coast Guard National Command Center at (202) 372-2100.

Mighty Merloe Corinthian Yacht Club
Mighty Merloe, now named Defiant, outside the Corinthian Yacht Club in 2022.
© 2023 Randall von Wedel

Captain Lawson is sailing aboard the Defiant, formerly Mighty Merloe, with a plan to break several singlehanded long-distance world records. However, he has faced a series of disruptions and problems on the way. Despite his extensive sailing experience, a series of mishaps has raised numerous questions about whether he and his Dark Seas Project have the ability to pull off his ambitious plans.

Lawson is headed to Baltimore, where he will prepare for a singlehanded world-record attempt for circumnavigation aboard a trimaran this fall. Though we don’t have current news on the situation, there are rumors he may have dismasted in what is a high-risk area during hurricane season. We join many in hoping he will find help soon and that he and Defiant return to safe harbor.


  1. Anon 9 months ago

    Whoa, this trimaran was seen more times on the rocks or on land than on the water. Brave dude.

  2. Patricia Brogan 9 months ago

    His prior journey to the Panama canal started 12/26 (we were the last people to see him) from San Diego and had similar issues and he limped into Acapulco after over 40 days. He supposedly had a collision at sea but never explained what happened. His safety equipment for that trip was minimal and he did do hull, sail and engine repair on Acapulco. As far as he posted on his FB group, he didn’t do any shakedown sailing in the Acapulco area before leaving on this trip. Praying that he is ok., Given he drifted at sea 40 days last trip, he’s a fighter.

    • Hugo Kugiya 9 months ago

      Patricia Brogan – if you’re willing, please get in touch. I’m a reporter at The Baltimore Banner, working on a story about Donald Lawson. This is Hugo Kugiya ([email protected])

  3. Dee Wright 9 months ago

    They have found his boat capsized about 275 miles from Acapulco. The Mexican Coast guard have been unable to approach the boat because of the sea state.

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