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Authorities Ask for Help Solving Mystery of Missing Great Lakes Sailor

missing sailor Pickering Frenchman's Bay
87-year-old Manfred, who goes by 'Fred,' was last seen September 29th, 2023 at Frenchman's Bay in Pickering

Authorities are asking the public for help to determine what happened to a boater who disappeared on Lake Ontario.

87-year-old Manfred, who goes by Fred and whose surname has not been released, was last seen September 29th, 2023 at Frenchman's Bay in Pickering, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Frenchman's Bay was once land-locked before a canal was built to open it to larger Lake Ontario in 1843. The bay now separates the downtown core of Pickering from the larger Great Lakes. It has several marinas and is widely known as a busy location for sailors.

Police are now asking the public's help to determine how, and why, the missing sailor left Frenchman's Bay and disappeared without a trace.

"We are republishing this incident as summer approaches, in an effort to remind those who are putting their boats back on the water, and those who are out on waterways, to be on the lookout for any suspicious items in the water that may assist in this investigation," a Durham police spokesperson said.

"We are hoping as the weather warms and more boaters are out, that we will receive additional information that will help us to figure out exactly what happened to Manfred and his boat last year."

According to the Toronto Sun, officers were sent to the man's home near Bayly St. and St Martins Dr. for a wellness check on October 2nd, 2023.

“An investigation began after officers were unable to locate the male in his home,” Sgt. Joanne Bortoluss said Wednesday, according to the Sun.

“Officers have been able to determine that the occupant left his home on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 and attended Frenchman’s Bay Marina in Pickering where he boarded his sailboat at approximately 12:30 p.m.,” said Bortoluss. “He has not been heard from or seen since.”

For boaters unfamiliar with Lake Ontario and the Great Lakes, Pickering and the surrounding coastline is a popular location for powerboats and sailboats. As with all the Great Lakes, it can produce dangerous waters similar to the world's oceans when conditions are right. The boating season in Ontario typically ends around mid-October for recreational boaters due to the dropping temperatures, colder water, and the arrival of water. Departing with a sailboat in late September is not uncommon, especially for a veteran sailor, but would be considered a late-season outing.

According to meteorological data, on September 29th, 2023, conditions appear to have been favorable with a high of about 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) and moderate winds from 10-19 km/h (6-12 mph). Visibility was good at 14 km and there is no record of inclement around Pickering or the surrounding area. Conditions remained similar throughout the weekend.

Fred and his 25-foot blue hulled sailboat Passat left Frenchman's Bay sometime in early or mid-afternoon on September 29th and did not return. His sailboat carries Ontario ID 50E99759.

Fred is described as white, 5'10", with a medium build and grey hair. He was last seen wearing an orange and red hat, blue shirt, and beige pants.

Fred's 'Passat' sailboat with Ontario ID 50E99759

“Police and Fred’s family are asking the public to stay vigilant on the waterways this summer as the search for any information leading up to his disappearance continues,” said Bortoluss.

Anyone with information is asked to contact their local police service, Durham Regional Police at 1-888-579-1520, ext. 2541, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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