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Search for Three Missing American Sailors Continues off Baja

Ocean Bound
Ocean Bound (USCG)

Published Apr 18, 2023 9:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

The search for three missing American sailors continues off the coast of Baja California, two weeks after their boat departed Mazatlan and sailed out of contact. 

Experienced sailors Kerry O'Brien, Frank O'Brien and William Gross departed the Mexican resort city on April 4, bound for Cabo San Lucas. Their vessel, the 41-foot cruiser Ocean Bound, never arrived. After about five days without contact, their families notified the authorities, and began a massive search effort. 

Ocean Bound is a Robert Perry-designed Lafitte 44, an older fiberglass cruising yacht design known for sturdy build and good seakeeping. The last examples were delivered in the late 1980s. According to the Coast Guard, the vessel would have experienced a gale with 30-plus knots of wind and 15-20 foot seas during the short 200 nm transit. 

Frank and Kerry O'Brien (USCG)

"When they began their voyage we know that the conditions were not optimal for that type of trip, though certainly, there were sailing vessels out there during that time," search coordinator Cmdr. Greg Higgins (USCG) told CNN. 

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted two days of search flights over the areas where Ocean Bound could have transited or drifted, and the Mexican Navy continues the SAR operation with a twin-engine search aircraft and several patrol boats. 

“Our hope is for our dad, and Kerry and Frank to be sailing into port soon, tired and sore, but safe," the family of William Gross said in an update on Tuesday. "Our hearts certainly go out to the other two families who are being equally impacted during this extremely difficult time.”