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Baltimore Sailor Donald Lawson Missing at Sea off Coast of Mexico, Coast Guard says

Baltimore sailor Donald Lawson has been reported missing at sea, as confirmed by the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday. The seasoned sailor embarked on a voyage from Acapulco, Mexico to Panama on July 5, but his last communication with his wife was on July 12. Efforts to locate him are being led by Mexico’s coast guard, while the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a rescue alert urging nearby vessels to assist in the search.

Lawson, a native of Baltimore and a graduate of Woodlawn High School, had ambitious plans to set records with his sailboat, Defiant, an ORMA 60 trimaran capable of reaching remarkable speeds of up to 42 knots (48 miles per hour). However, some sailors had previously warned about the potential dangers of such high speeds. Despite this, Lawson expressed confidence in his vessel’s agility, emphasizing that its swiftness allowed him to evade inclement weather.

Equipped with two life rafts, a position beacon, multiple radios, and a survival suit, Lawson had taken meticulous precautions for his journey. His goal was to undertake a solo and nonstop sail around the world in a boat no longer than 60 feet, with the aspiration of breaking the current record of 74 days. While Defiant had previously sailed on the Pacific Ocean, the sailor had not attempted a circumnavigation until this trip.

In an interview last year, Lawson revealed his plan to sail through the Panama Canal and return to the Baltimore area, setting off from there for his ambitious voyage in the fall. With vast experience as a delivery captain, having completed over 100 passages of more than 1,000 miles, he was well-aware of the dangers posed by long journeys. Despite the risks, when questioned about his feelings in 2022, Lawson admitted to being “concerned but not scared.”

As the search for Donald Lawson and his sailboat continues, the maritime community remains hopeful for a safe and successful outcome. Lawson’s passion for sailing and his determination to set new records have made him a respected figure among sailors. The Coast Guard’s efforts, supported by nearby vessels, are diligently working towards finding him and ensuring his safe return.

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