Baltimore man Donald Lawson missing at sea off coast of Mexico, Coast Guard says
Baltimore Sun July 23, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Baltimore sailor Donald Lawson is missing at sea, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Sunday.
Lawson took off on July 5 from Acapulco, Mexico, on a voyage to Panama. His last point of contact came on July 12, when his wife communicated with him, said Hunter Schnabel, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard’s District 11.
Mexico’s coast guard is leading the search-and-rescue efforts.
The Coast Guard issued a rescue alert Saturday asking nearby vessels to look out for Lawson and his sailboat.
Lawson has been seeking to set records with his sailboat, Defiant, an ORMA 60 trimaran that can reach speeds of up to 42 knots, or 48 miles an hour. Too much speed can be dangerous, some sailors have cautioned, but Lawson told The Baltimore Sun in an interview last year that his boat’s swiftness could also be a strength: “If I’m sailing along and I see a bad weather system coming along, I’m fast enough to avoid it.”
Defiant was equipped with two life rafts, a position beacon, multiple radios and a survival suit, he said at the time.
Lawson, a Baltimore native and Woodlawn High School graduate, was set to begin an around-the-world voyage in the fall with the goal of becoming the fastest person to sail solo and nonstop around the world in a boat no longer than 60 feet. The current record is 74 days.
Defiant had previously sailed on the Pacific Ocean. Lawson had not yet tried to sail around the world. Earlier this year, he told The Sun that he planned to sail through the Panama Canal and return to the Baltimore area, expecting to take off from there for his circumnavigation this fall.
Lawson has experience as a delivery captain, bringing boats to new homes, and he estimated that he’s completed at least 100 passages of more than 1,000 miles. Long passages are dangerous, but asked about the risk in 2022, Lawson said he was “concerned but not scared.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Lilly Price contributed to this article.
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