Sailing community left devastated as fatal storm hits Baja Peninsula on the coast of Mexico

The bodies of two missing British sailors have been found off the coast of Mexico.

Paul Whitehouse and Simone Wood, from London and Wolverhampton, went missing from their yacht in La Paz when Hurricane Odile hit the area early last week.

Rescue crews began a search operation for the pair after severe storms capsized their 70ft boat, Tobasco II, on 15 September.

The body of Ms Woods was found earlier in the week, while Mr Whitehouse’ body was recovered on Monday.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The Embassy is working with the local authorities and consular staff are providing assistance to both families at this very difficult time.”

The couple’s boat was one of many that were capsized when Hurricane Odile swept through the area. Navy divers searched the vessel in the aftermath but were initially unable to find the pair.

Kevin Schank and Tyler Rowland, who are friends of the couple and fellow sailors in La Paz described the destructive hurricane on their blog, More Hands on Deck HQ, saying: “Hurricane Odile hit the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, with a heart wrenching blast of 108 knot winds (124 mph). The eye of the storm was said to hit La Paz around midnight and lasting throughout the entire night and into the next day. It was a night of horrifying terror and destruction for the boating community in La Paz and surrounding areas.

“When the wind rose above 70 knots (80.5 mph) there was nothing people could do but hold on to their bootstraps and pray. The radio was filled with frightening transmissions of their beloved friends with shouts of terror.

“After the dust settled there was nothing but carnage, missing and stranded sailors as well as broken souls. Out of forty boats floating in the anchorage, only five were left floating on moorings after the storm had passed.

“Many boats in the marinas suffered damage by banging up against shattered docks and flying debris. Boats were sunk, beached, dismasted and stacked on top of each other on the rocks.”

A Hurricane Odile relief fund has been set up to receive donations that will help the sailing community of La Paz. The money will be used to provide victims with food, clean water, supplies and shelter, as well as aiding in the salvage of sunken and washed up yachts.

According to the blog, four sailors in total were missing following the storm, with one sadly being found inside his sunken yacht by a Mexican Navy Dive Team a few days later.

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Image credit: Lori Winstanley