The wreckage of Canadian Bob Smith’s Pantera, a 44-ft homebuilt catamaran that was reported missing on Monday, was found in the Sea of Cortez. A body in a wetsuit was found several miles away from the wreck, but has not yet been identified.
It’s not entirely clear when Pantera was found. We’ve heard reports that the wreckage had been ashore for as long as a month before being discovered off Punta Chivato, just south of the town of Santa Rosalia on the eastern, inland side of the Baja peninsula. Other sources say the boat was found several weeks ago.
We’ve gathered information from the tight-knit group of cruisers in the Sea of Cortez who know Bob Smith, and from a call with the Port Captain in Santa Rosalia. Smith, who is in his late 70s, was singlehanding, and was said to be having problems with his boat — he was apparently steering via lines attached to his rudders. Reader Wayne Gorrie said that he and his wife visited Smith last year in La Paz. “He was in fine form but it was clear to me that the boat was not,” Gorrie commented on our website.
We also spoke with cruiser Robert Settle yesterday in La Paz, who told us that Smith had last been seen by another cruising boat near Bahía de los Ángeles, about 200 miles to the north of Santa Rosalia, around November 9 or 10. “Bob contacted them on VHF, and they told him they were about to get slammed by weather. They saw him launch a spinnaker [and sail away].” Smith was apparently headed south, away from an oncming northerly. Settle described Smith’s catamaran Pantera as very high-tech, super lightweight and “touchy” in big wind.
We’ve heard reports that a DNA test is being done on the body that was found. Natalie Smith, Bob’s daughter, told us that she’s hoping people can help try to locate where her father might be, “and if he is still alive, and if he needs help.”
Ailyn van Os contributed reporting to this story.