Search for missing round-the-world sailor Peter Baggenstos continues two months after he was last seen

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Police have “serious concerns” about a solo sailor who was last seen in Hobart nearly two months ago as he left for New Zealand.

Swiss sailor Peter Baggenstos, 80, left Hobart on Dec. 1 aboard his 13-metre yacht Lady Lay.

The yacht’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder ceased transmission on Dec. 5 in the Tasman Sea, about 90 miles (140 km) off the east coast of Tasmania. Tasmania police said they understand the weather was “bad” at the time.

Mr Baggenstos’ family in Switzerland reported the situation to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which police say has carried out a “massive” search of the Tasman Sea.

Neither Mr. Baggenstos nor his yacht have been found.

New Zealand authorities said they had no record of Mr Baggenstos entering the country or its waters.

“Given the circumstances, we are deeply concerned for the well-being of Mr Baggenstos,” said Sergeant John Delpero of the Tasmania Police Missing Persons Unit.

Sergeant Delpero said Tasmania Police had been made aware of the situation on January 11 and was taking charge of the investigation “which has so far included investigations into AMSA, interstate and foreign law enforcement agencies and the family of Mr Baggenstos through Interpol.”

He said the investigation was continuing and Tasmania Police had asked for a detailed report of the weather and conditions at the time Mr Baggenstos’ transponder stopped transmitting, bank details and further information from Mr Baggenstos’ family. Baggenstos.

“I would absolutely expect and understand that [his family] would be under great stress right now, they would understandably have a lot of questions,” Sergeant Delpero said.

“They deserve answers and what we want to do as part of the research is give them answers.”

170,000 square miles searched

Sergeant Delpero said the marine surveys conducted by AMSA covered about 170,000 square nautical miles in the Tasman Sea.

“Our naval and rescue services are in contact with AMSA. From there I would assume they will decide if any further investigation can be done.”

Peter Baggenstos with his yacht, Lady Lay, in 2019.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

He said Tasmania Police have also been in touch with New Zealand Police, other Australian police forces and health organizations such as hospitals for any information on Mr Baggenstos.

Mr. Baggenstos has been described as a “very experienced” sailor and in good health.

He previously sailed solo around the world.

Sergeant Delpero said the yacht was equipped with safety equipment including life belts, a life raft, a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit, an emergency beacon (EPIRB) and the AIS transponder.

In 2019, Mr. Baggenstos came close when his yacht rolled over in a huge swell in the Great Australian Bight while completing his second circumnavigation of the world.

At this point he lost all electronics, battery and engine power and limped into Port Lincoln nine days later under limited sail with a broken boom.

Man in yacht cabin sitting at table on right communication equipment on walls around him
Peter Baggenstos, then 76, aboard the Lady Lay in Port Lincoln after a close call in 2019.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Jodie Hamilton)

After arriving in Port Lincoln, he told the ABC that he was caught in winds of 55 knots and waves over six meters high, when an “unusually large wave knocked the boat down”.

When he went from the saloon to the cockpit to see what had happened, he said another big wave was coming.

“It was a foot or two of blue water and white water and I saw it come over the boat, and I held on to the wheel and just held on and knelt down and I had to let the water go through me and over me and over the boat for almost a minute… some vicious waves came in with teeth and mouth open and tried to get me again, but I was lucky – I just got wet,” he said at the time.

He also said he hoped to continue sailing around the world for the next four years, until he was at least 80.

Investigation of the movements of Baggenstos in Hobart

Sergeant Delpero said police were still trying to figure out what Mr Baggenstos was doing in Hobart.

“Peter flew from Switzerland to Australia in September 2022 and some time after took up his yacht again, the Lady Lay, and on 1 December departed from Hobart after obtaining clearance from the Australian Border Force,” he said.

“Peter spent some time in Hobart between September and December 1… there are still some gaps as to where exactly he stayed and what he did in Hobart.

“We hope that the family in Switzerland can answer those questions for us, but if anyone has any information about Peter, [while he was] in Hobart and indeed his disappearance, we would urge you to contact us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at crimestopperstas.com.au

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