Broadcast Version For Maritime Mobile Service Network & Other Nets

UPDATE: 1230 HRS 03 August, 2020

Cancel Bolo for SV FERNWEH. He has been located off the Florida Keys with engine trouble.


Emergency BOLO for SV FERNWEH on passage from Isla Mujares, Mexico to Linton Bay, Panama. The vessel is a 44 foot CSY Pilot House Ketch with aft cockpit. The vessel was last seen departing the anchorage in Isla Mujares, Mexico on 13 JULY 2020 for Linton Bay, Panama. Anyone knowing Captain JOHN HILLYER or the SV FERNWEH is requested to contact Anyone knowing exactly where he is located is requested to contact the USCG RCC Miami at telephone number 305-415-6800.

**********UPDATE 1445 HRS 02 AUGUST 2020************

We have positive news this morning. Previously it was thought that Captain John Hillyer did not have an EPIRB aboard the S/V FERNWEH. Today, the USCG, RCC Miami, advised they have located registrations for 1 EPIRB and 2 PLBs in the name of JOHN HILLYER of the S/V FERNWEH. This is very good news knowing that if he were in a distress situation he could activate these EPIRBs.

We would now like to speak directly to anyone knowing Captain John who has been on his boat and may have seen or spoken with Captain John about EPIRBs. We do not know if he has these EPIRBS on the boat or if they are working. Please communicate directly to

*******************UPDATE 01 August 2020 – 2345 HRS UTC*****************


We are trying to find others that have experience sailing a 44′ CSY Pilothhouse Ketch with aft cockpit to determine what a mileage this vessel would make in typical Caribbean tradewinds which would put the vessel on a beam reach from Isla de la Juventud, Cuba to Linton Bay, Panama.

One thing which we have not publicized much is that his autopilot is broken, and he has sleep apnea. So he is going to need to sleep. Of course the water is too deep to anchor, so I’m speculating he lowered the sails and drifts when he needs to sleep. Anyone with thoughts on that?

Anyone with experience with a similar vessel is asked to reply to

************UPDATE 1300 HRS UTC 30 JULY 2020**************

SSCA HF Radio Service KPK (daily at 1215 hrs UTC SSB freq 8.104) has been announcing the BOLO for the S/V FERNWEH. Today, a large Honduran fishing vessel reported seeing a sailboat about 6 days ago in position 16 26 N / 081 16 W headed South. Anyone who may have been that sailboat please let know. It possibly could have been the FERNWEH, but we would want to know if it was any other sailboat in that position about 6 days ago. Please respond to

*********UPDATE 1230 HRS UTC 29 JULY 2020*************** has successfully contacted Capt. Miguel of the S/V MAVERICK presently in Linton Bay, Panama. The S/V FERNWEH has not yet arrived in Linton Bay, Panama. has successfully contacted Capt. Carin of the S/V FOOTLOOSE, presently in San Andres, Colombia. The S/V FERNWEH has not been seen in San Andres. has spoken with Capt. Tracey of the S/V SPARROW, presently in Isla Mujares, Mexico. They were anchored close to Capt. John in Isla Mujares and were the last people to speak to him as he departed the anchorage at 1300 hrs. local time, on 13 JULY 2020. They know that John was planning on following the route of 2 sailors he had been following on a You Tube channel. Boatwatch is trying to identify that You Tube video which may give us clues to his intended route from Isla Mujares to Linton Bay, Panama.

This morning on the SSCA HF Radio Service Net (daily at 1215 hrs. UTC on SSB frequency 8.104) we spoke with Capt Allen of the S/V WINDMAGIC. Capt. Allen has been in Isla Mujares a long time and has followed 4 or 5 other boats on their passages from Isla Mujares to Panama. According to Capt Allan, most vessels take about 18 days to complete the voyage. This is a very positive indication as he departed Isla Mujares, Mexico on 13 JULY 2020, and therefore has been at sea now on 29 JULY 2020 for 16 days. So according to Capt. Allen’s experience he will not be overdue until about 01 AUGUST 2020. asked Chris Parker of the Marine Weather Center to take a look at the weather in the SW Caribbean beginning 13 JULY to date. Here is his information:

Weather should have been very benign from Mon13-Sat18, with mostly NE-ESE winds 15k-or-less, and not many squalls. Probably mostly motoring / motorsailing in mild conditions.

However, a nasty TropicalWAVE passed much of the area S of GrandCayman thru SW Caribbean Sat18 night-Mon20, with scattered-numerous T-strms to 30-35k, and probably 8′ seas (gradient wind was about ENE-E@20g25).

Things settled some Tue21-Wed22 in SW Caribbean.

Given the amount of motoring / motorsailing the first 5-6 days of trip, I wonder if maybe the vessel encountered mechanical problems, which caused the trip to take MUCH longer than expected (forced to sail after engine failure?). If so, then he could still be underway, or maybe he bailed-out somewhere?

Hope this helps…Chris.

Chris Parker
Weather Forecasting & Vessel Routing
Weather & Communications – Hardware, Software, Sales, Consulting, Books,
Marine Weather & Communications LLC (and dba Marine Weather Center)
5130 Medulla Rd
Lakeland FL 33811
ph 863-248-2702
fax 863-248-4666

In conclusion, believes this is positive information, and hopefully Capt. John will show up in Linton Bay, Panama in the next 3 to 5 days. All Cruisers are requested to contact Glenn@Boatwatch.orgwith any positive information about Capt. JOHN HILLYER or the S/V FERNWEH.


UPDATE 1930 HRS UTC 28 JULY 2020

CAPTAIN JOHN HILLYER was supposed to be meeting an acquaintance in Linton Bay, Panama on the vessel MAVERICK. We need to get in touch with the captain of the MAVERICK.

Also Capt JOHN HILLIER was supposed to be in touch with Karen on the vessel FOOTLOOSE. Evidently the FOOTLOOSE had to make a stop in Colombia (not sure if it was San Andres) because of engine problems. We need to contact Karen on the vessel FOOTLOOSE.

If anyone knows how to contact either the vessel MAVERICK or the vessel FOOTLOOSE, please contact


Initial Post July 28, 2020 8:00 AM Eastern

The U.S. Coast Guard, Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), Miami, Florida is attempting to contact the SV FERNWEH with Captain JOHN HILLYER aboard. The vessel is a 44 foot CSY Pilot House Ketch with aft cockpit. The vessel was last seen departing the anchorage in Isla Mujares, Mexico on 13 JULY 2020 for Linton Bay, Panama. Boatwatch is in contact with the Captain’s wife to determine whether he has an EPIRB, life raft, AIS, and SSB radio aboard. Captain John Hillyer lived aboard before his departure for Isla Mujares at the St. Petersburg, FL Municipal Marina.

Capt HILLYER estimated this voyage from Isla Mujares to Linton Bay, Panama to take 7 to 10 days.Another variable is if he will be quarantined if he made any stops along the way, like in San Andres or Roatan. He may have also been quarantined upon arrival in Linton Bay Panama. These are things we need to determine.

Anyone knowing Captain JOHN HILLYER or the S/V FERNWEH is requested to contact Anyone knowing exactly where he is located is requested to contact the USCG RCC Miami at telephone number 305-415-6800.