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The Families of ‘Ocean Bound’ Issue a Public Statement

On April 17 we reported that the Lafitte 44 Ocean Bound and her crew had been missing at sea for around 10 days. Kerry O’Brien, Frank O’Brien and William Gross left Mazatlán, Mexico, for San Diego on April 4, with a planned stop at Cabo San Lucas on April 6, to check in and reprovision. When Ocean Bound missed her check-in and had not been heard from, the crew’s families alerted the US Coast Guard and appealed to the community for news of the missing boat.

Responders spent many days planning and executing search grids and monitoring communications, to no avail. There has been no sight of, or signal from, Ocean Bound since the reported cell phone “pings” on April 4 that were believed to be calls from the vessel 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,” Melissa Spicuzza of San Diego wrote in a Facebook post asking for the sailing community’s help.

On April 21 we shared the news that the search for Ocean Bound had been suspended. Mariners, both at sea and on land, have continued to keep watch and maintain hope that the sailors will be found in good health. Meanwhile, their families have had to come to terms with the situation and have published the following statement.

Facebook, April 21, 2023:

“The families of William Gross, Kerry O’Brien, and Frank O’Brien humbly and gratefully thank everyone involved in the search of our loved ones including but not limited to: Commander Gregory Higgins, District 11 command chief for his unwavering support of our families in this intensely difficult time. We feel as though you’ve become a part of our family and our hearts will always be with you. Everyone at District 11 has given us a level of compassion, kindness and professionalism that is unparalleled to anything we’ve ever experienced. To the men and women serving District 11, Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento C-27 Spartan aircraft, Coast Guard Cutter Active, and Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Bottoms we will forever feel indebted to [you] kind souls who protect the citizens of this country who journey into the oceans here and abroad. The call of the ocean and the call to serve requires a special individual, we thank you for being that person.

“To those serving in the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) Kerry, Frank and William are not citizens of your country and you searched hundreds of thousands of miles of ocean and shoreline to find them and Ocean Bound inside your waters. We are truly humbled and thankful that you treated our family as your own. To those men and women aboard the SEMAR 47-foot Motor Lifeboats, 33-foot Response Boat, SEMAR naval vessels, and Air King 350ER, thank you for providing such an extensive search. Your loyalty, pride and service to the citizens of Mexico and those visiting your famously beautiful cities are blessed to have you protecting her waters.

“To the men and women of the Canadian naval vessel, HMCS Edmonton. Sailors hear the call and sailors respond. Hearing of your efforts to lend a hand in the search of Frank, Kerry and William was awe inspiring, thank you for your service of the citizens of Canada and thank you from these humbled citizens of America.

“Knowing that our family members have been part of a multinational search is not something we take for granted, it shows the kind of commitment and cooperation we all will praise in the years to come. Thank you to all who serve their countries at sea, on shore and abroad.

“The official search for Ocean Bound has been suspended at this time. Although this was devastating news for our families, we support the decision of SEMAR and the USCG. The search was exhaustive, heavily saturated in the Sea of Cortez between Mazatlán, Cabo [San] Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. No evidence of Ocean Bound or her crew have been found thus far. The waters and ports along the Pacific coast of the Baja Peninsula have been contacted, searched and reported in repeatedly. We understand that the search could not go on forever and the ocean is a big place. We feel confident in the efforts of all agencies and even though we haven’t found Ocean Bound or her crew we can seek solace in that they have done everything anyone could do to find them.

“To the community of sailors of all vessels who’ve searched, reported, reached out, shared and posted to aid in the search of Ocean Bound, Kerry, Frank and William, we know your search will not end. Those with salty air in our lungs and hearts will never stop hearing the call to keep a sharp lookout.

“As stated by the USCG we wholeheartedly support and encourage the use of a sail plan and an EPIRB when you sail or motor away from home. We do not in any way want the story of us and Ocean Bound to discourage anyone from setting sail into the unknown. The world is vast and beautiful and worth the risk of exploration. It’s magical on the ocean, wind in your hair and salt spray on your face. The vastness reminds you of how small one person is, it’s freeing to be with nature in that regard. We would only add: take a satellite phone.

“We, the Gross and O’Brien families request that this be our final message to the media and the public, barring any major developments in the story. We thank you for your dedication to getting our story out there, the message has been spread far beyond our small corner of the world. Ocean Bound and her crew are missing, but they will not be forgotten.”

19 Comments

  1. chuck Cunningham 1 year ago

    Thank you Gross and O’Brien families for the gracious and considerate message to the sailing and cruising community.

  2. Mark Wieber 1 year ago

    What an amazing letter. From A to Z, this letter just shines with respect, appreciation, and understanding. Makes me feel the loss of these sailors even more acutely than before. These missing folks are likely the type we need more of in this world. There is no courage without fear, no adventure without risk, and no loss that should stop us from appreciating where we are lucky. Hopefully they will find these guys on an island with a professor, a millionaire, and a movie star.

  3. Craig Russell 1 year ago

    Did they have an EPIRB onboard?

    • James Shepherd 1 year ago

      Being a USCG veteran the first thought was what happened to the EPIRB. Once deployed the signal is easily followed to it. I know things can happen to them and they are not fool proof. But in a situation like they were in I would have had it ready to hand deploy. Meaning out of the cradle and ready to be tossed clear of the boat. In all the stories read on this sad situation there has been no mention of a signal. My heart goes out to all the families and friends of the lost sailors and want them to know that every coast guardsman surely gave everything they had to try and find them. Im sure every searcher gave it all they had too. I hope there will be closure for the family some day. Prayers to all involved.

    • Joseph DiMatteo 1 year ago

      No it does not appear they had an EPIRB and that is according to one of the USCG briefings.

  4. Northbay Joe 1 year ago

    Thanks to the families for their clear, balanced effort at such a tryiing time. Someone did some beautiful writing!

  5. Carliane Johnson 1 year ago

    It is amazing to find this level of grace and humbleness while acknowledging that the search is over. My heart breaks for what these families and their friends must be going through. I hope they find out what happened to their loved ones. My condolences.

  6. Danny Lewis 1 year ago

    Fair Winds and Following Seas

  7. Peter Harley 1 year ago

    As a fellow mariner and adventurer I applaud the affected family for their courage and humility during this time of awful tragedy and distress. May you find peace in the difficult days ahead.

  8. Eric Davidson 1 year ago

    What a kind and sincere message

  9. Bridget Fulton 1 year ago

    Beautifully written. Condolences on the families losses. I just wonder if the marinas that the cell phone calls were made to were contacted to find out exactly what the nature of the calls were, as the article stated that it was assumed they were trying to reserve a spot. Would it not be good to know for sure if any private party were to continue the search? Condolences again.

  10. Eve Rooklidge 1 year ago

    Amazing grace and gratitude shown in your letter . Your families and all who supported with time and concern are what we need more in this world. May they be found on some remote beach island.xx

  11. Tim Dick 1 year ago

    Heavy sigh and RIP to all those aboard and their loved ones. This is a very sad reminder to have a float-off EPIRB, float off life raft, and a provisioned ditch bag aboard with an additional comm’s device such as a Garmin Inreach which leaves a “trail of digital breadcrumbs” that can be seen by all authorized friends & family if at all possible. Optimally each crew member would have a personal EPIRB. Tim / SV Malolo

  12. Flash 1 year ago

    Wonderfully written.

  13. k wright 1 year ago

    i am haunted by this and extend my sincerest condolences to the families of the lost crew.

  14. Loraine 1 year ago

    This was the most beautiful piece I have ever read, and my sincerest genuine sympathies go out to their families and friends! ?❤️? I also thank the Coast Guard and everyone involved who have searched for them, and still praying they will be found because I will not give up for the families and friends!!! ?❣️?❣️

  15. Mary 12 months ago

    Such hard work and generosity of all involved doing the searches with no proof of life. My condolences to the missing families who hopefully get closure unfortunately. My theory is regarding them missing since they were great sailors maybe they hit the storm Arlena earlier than mentioned by the media. I guess there was hail and high winds in some places. All the best

  16. Stephen Lawley 11 months ago

    Absolutely the most graceful and heartfelt letter I’ve ever seen in such a terribly sad situation. So humbling, the sea. Godspeed to those sailors and God bless those left behind in sorrow…Stephen sg ? ✌️

  17. LJ 5 months ago

    Beautifully written . I was sitting in the cockpit of our boat in Marina de La Paz listing to the morning net when the announcement came from the port captain to be on the lookout for Ocean Bound and the details of the disappearance. So very sad and shocking . I followed the story praying they would be found. This profoundly shook my confidence and feeling safe while sailing. Our sincere condolences to the families of the lost sailors.

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Jim founded Antrim Associates in 1979 and boasts one of the most diverse design portfolios in the industry, including boats that have set speed records and some of the most innovative boats on the planet.