OPHIR - Part-time Ophir resident Donn Pinkney, 43, is missing, and his empty sailboat washed ashore near La Ticla, Mexico, on February 25.
Pinkney was last seen sailing out of Manzanillo Bay on February 20 on his 27 ft. Catalina sailboat, Finesse. He was traveling solo, and had planned on sailing the roughly 180-mile stretch between Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo nonstop. Friends became concerned after they could not reach him via cell phone, despite adequate cell reception in the area, shortly after his departure.
The Finesse washed ashore south of La Ticla, roughly 60 miles south of Manzanillo, on February 25, but friends and family did not learn of the discovery until February 29, by which time the boat had been completely stripped by looters. The 7.5 ft. inflatable dinghy and Pinkney’s surfboards were missing from the boat; it is not known if they were stolen after it surfaced on land, or if Pinkney had tried to anchor at a nearby surf spot prior to his disappearance.
“Sailing is a true passion for him,” said Ophir resident Randy Barnes of Pinkney, who, he said, has “sailed around Asia, Mexico, Florida and California.”
The two met in college in Durango, more than 20 years ago.
According to a report printed in the Latitude 38 publication on March 2, Pinkney was last seen on Monday, Feb. 20, around 11 a.m., as he sailed out of Manzanillo Bay. An experienced cruising couple spotted what they later thought was Pinkney on Finesse. “They reported she was under full sail, which surprised them as the wind was strengthening. They were even more dismayed when they realized the singlehander aboard was planning to leave the protection of the bay in deteriorating conditions,” Latitude 38 reports.
Despite this report that the weather wasn’t optimal at the time of Pinkney’s departure from Manzanillo, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency responsible for weather forecasting and emergency weather alerts, had not reported any significant wind or weather during that time frame.
Friend Brett Schreckengost says those closest to Pinkney have a difficult time believing the sailor would have left the shelter of the bay in questionable conditions.
“He was an experienced sailor, and he certainly understood the gravity of heading out on a solo route like that. There was no reason for him to take that risk; he wasn’t in a hurry,” Schreckengost said.
Friends and family have posted news of Pinkney’s disappearance on various sailing and surfing websites, in hopes that someone will come forward with information about Pinkney’s whearabouts.