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.
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.
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.
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.