- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

12:30 p.m.

BALTIMORE — Search crews looking for publisher and former diplomat Philip Merrill, whose sailboat was discovered empty in the Chesapeake Bay, resumed their search this morning.

Mr. Merrill often sailed alone, as he did on Saturday, when he failed to come home.

The 72-year-old publisher typically followed an 18-mile round trip from near his home to Kent Island without wearing a life jacket, said Col. Mark S. Chaney, superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

The overall search area includes about 100 square miles, stretching from Annapolis to Plum Point in Calvert County, with the northernmost point of the area running all the way across the Bay.

Considering the conditions and the 62-degree water temperature, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Timothy G.M. Balunis Jr. estimated survival time to be about 28 hours.

“As time goes by, chances of survival are less and less,” Col. Chaney said.

Mr. Merrill is an experienced sailor and has been sailing on a breezy day, said Tom Marquardt, executive editor of the Annapolis Capital, one of seven periodicals Mr. Merrill publishes.

Mr. Merrill “has been an avid yachtsman since he first learned to sail at age 7. He has been actively cruising the Chesapeake since 1958,” his wife, Eleanor, and children said in a statement released by Mr. Marquardt. “If there was anyone who could captain a boat competently alone, it was Phil. … He just couldn’t resist a sunny day with the wind at his back.”

Mr. Merrill has had a broad career in public and private service. He is chairman of the board of Annapolis-based Capital-Gazette Communications Inc., which publishes Washingtonian magazine, the Capital and five other Maryland newspapers.

His 41-foot sailboat, the Merrilly, was found drifting in shallow water at about 7:15 p.m. Saturday near Plum Point by two persons on personal watercrafts, who boarded the vessel and found no one there, Col. Chaney said.

The boat’s sails had been up, so they started the engine to get the vessel into deeper water and called authorities.

 

When Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials arrived, they found Mr. Merrill’s wallet on board. There was no indication of damage to the boat, Col. Chaney said.

Mr. Merrill set sail around 2 p.m. from the pier at his Arnold home. Someone reported to the Coast Guard around 6 p.m. that Mr. Merrill was overdue to return, and his boat was found about an hour later.

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