Donald Lawson, an experienced sailor from Maryland, has been reported missing for three weeks.
While crews continue searching in the Pacific Ocean, more than 350 nautical miles off the coast of Mexico, his father is not giving up hope.
Donald Lawson spent a lot of time at the Downtown Sailing Center in Baltimore.
His dad is confident in his son’s skills and believes he is on a life raft that was missing when his capsized boat was found.
“We’re not going to give up hope. We don’t feel hopeless,” said Tony Lawson, Donald Lawson’s father. “We don’t feel helpless.”
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke with Tony Lawson amid the search for his son.
Hellgren asked Tony Lawson how he keeps hope alive.
“Because our family is a family of faith,” Tony Lawson said.
Tony Lawson told WJZ he has always believed in his son Donald, who vanished while on a solo trip to bring his boat, the Defiant, from Acapulco, Mexico, to Baltimore through the Panama Canal.
The Mexican Navy found the boat last week about 360 nautical miles south of Acapulco.
Donald Lawson was missing, but so was his life raft.
“The good news is, that big raft isn’t on there yet, which means Donald jumped into that raft,” Tony Lawson said. “We’re confident of that. He probably grabbed a bunch of water and food. Donald is in that raft. He’s too highly skilled not to do that.”
Tony Lawson said Donald would want people to know that he’s going to get this mission completed.
“He’s confident he’s going to be rescued,” Tony Lawson said. “I think he would want the world to know, I’m a survivor. I’m confident I’m going to be rescued. I think Donald wants the world to know he’s going to get this done.”
The Baltimore native’s passion for sailing began when he was 9 years old.
He and his wife, Jacqueline Lawson, started the Dark Seas Project.
“He really wants to make the sailing community broader, more diverse,” Tony Lawson said. “Baltimore City should feel proud to have someone like Donald representing us.”
Donald Lawson worked for months preparing the Defiant, and after returning to Baltimore, he planned a fall trip to break a world record, hoping to become the fastest person to sail around the world by himself.
“Are you sure you want to sail around the world by yourself?” Tony Lawson said he asked his son. “It’s not like it’s always been smooth sailing for him. He’s faced hardship before.”
This proud father said, whatever happens, his son’s drive to succeed should be a lesson to everyone.
“Go for your goals,” Tony Lawson said. “Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do because you can. If you have the drive, and Donald was proof of that, who would expect some young little kid, originally from Baltimore City, to accomplish all that Donald has accomplished? "
The entire Lawson family is working to get updates from the U.S. Coast Guard and officials in Mexico.
Some days, they hear very little, but Tony Lawson is confident Donald will be found and will return to his hometown and continue sailing.