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Lafitte 44 ‘Ocean Bound’ Reported Missing in Sea of Cortez

A sailboat with three souls aboard has been reported missing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Ocean Bound is a 44-ft Lafitte crewed by Kerry and Frank O’Brien and William (Bill) Gross. We understand the boat left Mazatlán at around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4, and headed west across the Sea of Cortez en route to San Diego. The crew had planned to stop in Cabo San Lucas on April 6 to check in and reprovision. When they did not check in by the weekend the situation was reported to the US Coast Guard. The sailors’ families are now also appealing to the sailing community for help in finding the trio.

Missing sailboat
The missing Lafitte 44 Ocean Bound.
© 2023 FB/Ocean Bound

In a Facebook post, Melissa Spicuzza of San Diego wrote that there was a report of cell phone pings on April 4 from a position off the coast of Mazatlán, believed to be calls to marinas in Cabo San Lucas. “All calls were short and it’s presumed they were trying to make slip/ball reservations. Based on the short calls they were unsuccessful.”

The post included the information that Kerry and Frank, the owners of Ocean Bound, both hold US Coast Guard captain’s licenses and have 20 years experience sailing together, and that Bill has over 50 years of sailing experience and is an extremely talented coastal cruiser.

Frank and Kerry O’Brien.
© 2023
Bill Gross.
© 2023

“The sailing community has hundreds of additional vessels looking for our family members. Sadly they have not seen or made contact with them either,” Spicuzza wrote. “Ocean Bound is a sturdy older vessel and by many accounts is one of the best sailboats ever constructed.”

On April 15 the US Coast Guard issued a release stating that the search and rescue efforts are being conducted by the Mexican navy (CMAR/SEMAR) with assistance from the USCG. According to Spicuzza’s post the USCG has determined a couple of scenarios on which to base their search efforts.

One: “The travel projection” — if Ocean Bound simply lost radio contact and continued her journey to San Diego. The search will focus just north or south of Turtle Bay (Bahia Tortuga) on the Baja Peninsula, in addition to long aircraft sweeps along the Baja Peninsula.

Two: “The drift projection” — if Ocean Bound became disabled. This search is focused by CMAR/SEMAR in a 100-mile area south to southeast of Cabo San Lucas, around the waters near Puerto Vallarta. These parameters are reassessed each night to redefine the search the next day.”

“We cannot express enough gratitude to the USCG, CMAR/SEMAR and the sailing community for their help the past four days and their continued S&R efforts going forward. They have communicated all of their efforts with kindness and compassion more than once a day. We truly appreciate everything you’ve done and continue to do. Thank you, you bring us hope and comfort in this painful time. The social media posting efforts of our families is to reach as many people as possible across the globe. If anyone has seen, heard of Ocean Bound and her crew. Knows someone in the areas around the search perimeters. Please help us bring Kerry, Frank and Bill home,” Spicuzza wrote.

Please share this story with all your friends and contacts, sailors or not, to help find the crew of Ocean Bound.


  1. Mike Blecher 1 year ago

    Theres a possibility they decided to go the “clipper route”—reaching out toward Hawaii and then tacking over and reaching toward the US coast…experienced offshore sailors in a capable boat could have decided not to do a traditional “bash…”

  2. PJ 1 year ago

    Have not way to verify…. Local Mexico workers informed me today that the boat was found somewhere around 30 miles outside of Banderas Bay and that all on board are well and healthy.

    • Captain Daddy 1 year ago

      Let’s hope for verification!!!

    • Joseph DiMatteo 1 year ago

      It was a different boat. A Catalina 30 with two men and a pregnant lady headed to South America. They didn’t get far.

  3. zeehag 1 year ago

    The Catalina 30 was coming up from Chile or Argentina and made it quite far before their sails failed, which i s about when the bolo was called for them. .. they made it to Cabo Corrientes at which point atunero clarion towed them into Chacala.
    Ocean Bound remains missing without a trace.

  4. Christie FELT 1 year ago

    Said a prayer for Ocean Bound yesterday. HOPE for their safe return to their families.

  5. Gentry Newsom 1 year ago

    I had a Chung Hawa built trawler fiberglass full keel single screw diesel and was in big seas at night and the whole rudder quadrant failed.
    Water was coming as the rudder shaft 3″dia laid over..had all bildge pumps running at capacity and two rolls of Remolds wrap alum.foil and a hammer saved our ass..I hammered balls of foil in the massive leak and tied the rudder mechanism to deck structure..and mayday’d our awesome United States Coast Guard..Towed us to Cabrillo beach San Pedro CA. I sure hope this crew shows up.

  6. MCH 1 year ago

    Could the boat have been intercepted by bad people now holding them captive? Prayers for all on board the vessel! This breaks my heart for all of their friends and families.

    • Gentry Newsom 1 year ago

      Pirates usually don’t operate in 30 knot winds and 20′ seas..I would think ? something catastrophic due the weather visibility or collision at sea.

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