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Search Underway for Missing Sailor in Sea of Cortez

A search is underway in the Sea of Cortez for Marina del Rey sailor William ‘Bill’ Walter Austin III, after his Fountaine Pajot 39, The Cat, was found washed up on a beach north of Nopolo, near Loreto, on March 12. Austin’s personal belongings, including his identification and his dog Stogie, were found on board the boat. Maritime communities, both local and on social media, are rallying to help find the missing sailor.

Search for missing sailor
Austin’s dog Stogie was the only soul on board when The Cat was found on the beach on Saturday.
© 2022 Facebook/Shaylyn Austin

Austin was reportedly seen departing San Carlos on Monday, March 7, headed for La Paz. The last time his family knew of his wherabouts he was anchored near Painted Rocks Cove on Isla Carmen. An updated post on the Facebook page San Carlos Sonora Residents reported that a couple had spoken with Austin in Punta San Basilio on Wednesday morning, and that there are reports of photos taken in San Bruno that show The Cat in the background.

We understand the search is being coordinated by Mexico’s Municipal Civil Protection, State Civil Protection, and other agencies, and is now focused between Punta San Basilio and the San Bruno area, north of Loreto. A pedestrian search is also underway along esplanades and beaches.

It’s reported that there have been strong winds blowing in the region during the past few days.
© 2022 Facebook/Zona Conchó

This morning we found what appears to be a press release posted by Javier Chávez Davis that says there has been no success in locating Austin, that the search is continuing today, and that there are fears Austin fell overboard due to strong winds that have appeared in recent days.

A further update at 11:00 a.m. advises that a plane search along the coastline between Punta San Basilio and San Bruno was unsuccessful in locating the missing mariner. It is possible that he went for help on land, and search efforts are now being focused farther inland in that same area.

Austin had sailed to Mexico last year with the Baja Ha-Ha. Unfortunately the rally’s organizers have no further information about his travels after the Ha-Ha. Many West Coast sailors and Latitude 38 readers frequent these waters; perhaps some of you met or sailed with Austin.

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

If you are able to add any information to the search efforts, you are asked to call 6121679946 (Mexico: +52) Municipal Civil Protection Offices, State Civil Protection, Puerto Loreto Captain or ENSAR.

7 Comments

  1. Kelly Gilfillan 4 months ago

    Thank you so much for posting this. The Baja Haha crew for The Cat is heartbroken but hopeful. If anyone is in the area, I hope they can help with the private search parties. His daughters arrived today and are doing what they can to help.
    Thanks again
    Kelly

  2. Delbert Pacifico 4 months ago

    So sad another reminder to wear a life vest and tow a life line life vest.. God Bless

  3. jack lanning on waterdog 4 months ago

    Please wear a harness, attached to rigging, when venturing outside your cockpit. I just crossed from Isla San Marco to Guaymas on March 14/15. Searched with binocs every half hour for duration during day. Looked for light at night. Course was 55 degrees true, speed 4.5 knots

  4. Todd Morin 4 months ago

    Praying for a miracle.

  5. Natalie 3 months ago

    Hope he is found safe and sound soon. Hugs to his daughters.

  6. bev morse 3 months ago

    have always believed solo sailing requires life vest 24/7. is his aboard? if not, get thee further out into the waters – and past current patterns – god and conditions be with him –

  7. Kathy Powers 3 months ago

    So hoping that this sailor is found safe and soon! What is the condition of Stogie?

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