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Missing California Sailor Found Dead in Sea of Cortez

Last week we reported that California sailor William ‘Bill’ Austin was missing in the Sea of Cortez after his boat was found washed ashore on a beach north of Nopolo, near Loreto, on March 12. Two days ago we received word that fishermen in the area of Punta Lobo, Isla del Carmen, had found a body in the water. The report, issued by Subsecretaría de Proteccíon Civil BCS, stated that the body was to be recovered by naval authorities and Civil Protection and been taken ashore for identification.

Yesterday we learned that the body has been identified as that of William Walter Austin III of Marina del Rey.

William ‘Bill’ Walter Austin III.
© 2022 Facebook/Shaylyn Austin

Boatwatch.org, an organization that assists in helping locate all overdue and missing vessels, shared a report from the Facebook group Expresionbcs.

“Sources from the General Prosecutor’s Office of State Justice (PGJE) have confirmed that unfortunately, the body located this morning in the vicinity of Punta Lobos, Isla del Carmen, Municipality of Loreto, corresponds to the North American, William Walter Austin III.”

The report further advises that the cause of death is still to be determined.

To date, this is the only information we have been able to find about the situation. We therefore ask that readers please be mindful of this when sharing or commenting on this story.

We are heartbroken to learn that we’ve lost a member of the Baja Ha-Ha fleet. Austin had sailed to Mexico with the 2021 fleet, and judging by the comments to our story last week and on social media posts, he was a well-liked and well-regarded sailor. We know he had big plans to enjoy the Sea of Cortez and perhaps the coast of Central America, and that he had a dream of sailing the Med with friends and family.

Our sincere condolences to his family and all who knew and sailed with him.

16 Comments

  1. Ken Brinkley 8 months ago

    RIP Bill, living the dream and now on to new horizons. God speed.

  2. Sean 8 months ago

    Having done my share of solo sailing, I often found the serenity of the solitude tempered by the necessity for added precaution. RIP Captain Austin!

  3. Eric Redeker 8 months ago

    So sorry for your loss I don’t know Bill at all but know he will be missed.

  4. Lindsay Fellows 8 months ago

    I’ve known Bill for 20 years and he was a kind, generous, and humble person with a great sense of humor. He was also a great father to his daughter and was truly living his dream. He will be so missed by his friends all over the world.

    • Lindsay Tognetti 8 months ago

      Hi Lindsay,
      I am wondering if Bill Austin was married to Judy Austin. I worked with Judy at Horner Waldorf in Fullerton, CA back in the 60’s. I remember that my mom and dad, plus myself and boyfriend at the time were invited to go sailing with Judy and her husband Bill. They had a small sailboat at the time, perhaps a 26′ boat. It was my first time sailing and I really loved the experience with them.

  5. Peter Clapham 8 months ago

    He died doing what he liked instead of in a nursing home.

    • Magnumpied 8 months ago

      Amen

  6. Jessica Gonzales 8 months ago

    Ive known bill for 25 years, he was a truly beautiful human, loving father and kind soul; one of a kind. May he rest in peace and remain forever in the hearts of those who loves him.

  7. Demitry Jake 8 months ago

    I’m so sad too hear about A good Man… I worked for Bill years ago at Austin Enterprise and happen too see it on news… He will truly be missed… RIP Bill

  8. Tim Yarbrough 8 months ago

    I was involved in the first days of the Seach….from a plane we searched 3 areas where we thought he might of gotten on shore .
    When the family arrived and took inventory they discovered the tank ,regulator and one fin was missing and one fin was on the back deck with tools left out ,motor in the off position.
    I knew right then it was over .
    To be honest I never thought he would be seen again …..but on day 11 his body was found about 20 miles from the known location he went missing with a his gear and wet suit still attached.
    The currents pulled him northeast till the next current pushed him south where he was found…
    I was fishing on Thursday the day after he departed San Basilio at aprox 8:30 am and seen the boat a dirt and even told my buddies it was odd to see a sail boat a drift in this area they are usually just moving thru…I researched my photos and found it .
    The boat drifted so east from where we first seen it by the end of the day .
    The next day the north winds pushed the boat between Carmen and coranado island and came ashore in front of a gringo Community called loreto Bay .
    I heard the call come in on the radio and then a close friend called me asking if I had seen his friends boat and I said yes.
    2 days later the boat was pulled off the beach by a crew out of puerto Escondido marina and the gringos were probably the most help or it would still be siting on that beach stripped of everything.
    The LB Community did a 2hour shift durning the night so that it would not be looted…..the LB people are the best !!!!
    The family stayed in my extra house and is devastated but know he was doing what he loved…
    I have 3 conclusion’s of what happened…
    His log had reports of prop problems so I’m pretty sure he put his gear on and went over to fix something…
    #1 hit his head under the boat and was knocked out .
    #2 had a medical emergency (heart attack )
    #3 the air in the tank was contaminated and he passed out .
    A sad story and probably could of been prevented if he was not traveling alone but he died doing what he loved !!!
    Safe boating and Rip Bill Austin….you will be missed by all your family and friends .

    • Jessica Gonzales 8 months ago

      Thank you Tim for sharing. It does help give closure yo some degree. And thank you for helping his girls and his family throughout this awful ordeal. ✌🏽💕✊🏽

    • Kelly and Sean Mulvihill 8 months ago

      Oh Tim, thank you so much for this additional information. Bill was one of our dearest friends for many years and a very close neighbor, family really. We are all heartbroken. Thank you for you kindness in putting up the family. We do believe it is some measure of comfort that he was indeed doing what he loved. Forever grateful that he was found and to you and your community for doing all you could for a most beloved man. 💕🙏🏼😔

  9. Sansenoy 8 months ago

    I Am Standing Upon The Seashore

    I am standing upon the seashore.
    A ship at my side spreads her white
    sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

    She is an object of beauty and strength.
    I stand and watch her until at length
    she hangs like a speck of white cloud
    just where the sea and sky come
    to mingle with each other.

    Then, someone at my side says;
    “There, she is gone!”

    “Gone where?”
    Gone from my sight. That is all.
    She is just as large in mast and hull
    and spar as she was when she left my side
    and she is just as able to bear her
    load of living freight to her destined port.
    Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

    And just at the moment when someone
    at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
    There are other eyes watching her coming,
    and other voices ready to take up the glad shout;
    “Here she comes!”
    And that is dying.

  10. Bill Blindell 8 months ago

    My boat is next to Bill’s other boat “Buen Camino”. Meaning “The Good Road”. He was such a kind man. Always offered to help with just about anything. He is the meaning of Buen Camino. He will be missed.

  11. Bob Cranmer-Brown 7 months ago

    I did not know Bill, but spent many years single handed sailing. A thank you to Tim Yarborough and the LB community for caring for a fellow sailor.

  12. Irene Koegel 4 weeks ago

    I am so sorry to hear this news. Bill and I had a brief relationship and longer friendship when I moved to Santa Monica 3 1/2 years ago. He was incredibly smart and passionate about his family and life and Marina del Rey bars with live music and dancing. I hoped to catch up with him when he got back from his winter in Mexico. I thought he was just busy and did not respond to my texts. How stupid I feel now. I know he was treasured by many. RIP Bill.

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