Lost at sea? Sailing couple from Girdwood missing off coast of Baja

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Searchers on Monday and Tuesday said they found no sign of the sailing vessel Ocean Bound, which was sailing from Mexico to San Diego with three souls onboard, two of them with Alaska connections.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy are looking for the 44-foot sailing yacht that has Kerry and Frank O’Brien of Girdwood and William Gross of Pennsylvania on board.

The crew was last heard from off of the Baja Peninsula near Mazatlan on April 4.

The Mexican Navy said has used four patrol boats and a twin-engine prop airplane to search.

“Search and rescue coordinators have contacted marinas throughout Baja, Mexico, with negative sightings of the vessel. Urgent marine information broadcasts have been issued over VHF radio requesting all mariners to keep a lookout for the missing persons and vessel,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The O’Briens have 50-ton captain licenses with sailing endorsements and decades of combined experience sailing. Kerry works in both Southern California and Alaska in the maritime and hospitality fields. Gross is also a seasoned sailor, according to his friends.

The seas in the area were reportedly rough with 15- to 20-foot swells. Since then, there have been no radio communications from the Ocean Bound.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Bad weather is no time to mess with, even on a 41-footer. 20 foot swells are big for a slender sailboat and can break it apart, or roll it. A trailing sea can swamp it and also turn it over, especially at night when you don’t see the swells. Could have also been a rogue wave.

  2. The Lafitte 44 is heavy, slow, stiff and has a low CSF or Capsize Screening Formula. It’s a blue water design that you can expect to do well in a 20′ swell. If they’re as seasoned as the article implies it would have been a few nights of wet and crappy sleep. If they’re not, being out on the wrong side of Mexico during the shoulder season can be the first page of a bad plan.

    If you’d like more info on the yacht you’ll find specs at sailboatdata dot com.

  3. No EPIRB deployed. No distress call in a region that has heavy recreation traffic. Rouge wave ruled out as none were reported. No debris, sign of boat. Not even a life jacket, seat cushion.

    90 years of combined sailing experience.

    Could be foul play.

    I’ve made this crossing several times, never had an issue..

  4. Where did they work in homer? Do they have kids up there in school? Waiting for news must be terrible for everyone in homer such a small town.

  5. Pirates got them. The yacht has been altered, rebadged, and is running drugs. So sad, but preventable as we live in a very dangerous world.

  6. I just heard a story about drug cartel nearly capturing a couple valley people on a fishing charter off Baja. Apparently the skipper on the boat outran them and got away. Hopefully this isn’t the case. Very Dangerous in Mexico right now.

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