Missing Boater Unlikely To Be Found
Virginia Marine Police planned to continue looking today for a boater who went missing this week, but officials said Friday that it's unlikely he'll be found alive.
Arno Dawson, 64, from Perth, Australia, was last seen Wednesday evening aboard his 40-foot sailboat, the Wampeter, said John Bull, a Virginia Marine Police spokesman. He moored to the observation pier at Buckroe Beach in Hampton and told authorities he was tired and would move in the morning, Bull said.
At 8:20 a.m. Thursday, a fishing crew spotted the Wampeter cruising unmanned about a quarter-mile north of Little Creek Inlet in the Chesapeake Bay. The Coast Guard and local emergency personnel launched a search for Dawson but called it off at 6 p.m.
Virginia Marine Police resumed the search Friday, focusing on the water and shoreline between the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Bull said. They ended their efforts Friday evening with plans to resume looking today.
Virginia Marine Police don't suspect foul play. It appears Dawson was on the boat alone, said Lt. Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.
Dawson is an experienced sailor who manage s a boat-building company in Australia, Bull said. He found the Wampeter, which was ported in Annapolis, Md., online, purchased it for $26,000 in December and came to the United States in the last few weeks to work on it. He went to sea Monday, planning to sail the boat home, Bull said.
"To our knowledge, he was a very experienced sailor," he said. "That's quite a long sail."
Dawson's daughter in Australia has been notified that he is missing, Bull said.
The Wampeter, a 1980s sailboat, is impounded while the Marine Police investigate. If Dawson doesn't turn up, the boat will go to his family, Bull said.
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