Archive for the ‘Info’ Category

Tribute Conference for Jim Gray

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

All are invited to the Tribute to Jim Gray, May 31 2008, at UC Berkeley. Although Jim will be listed as missing until 2011, his wife Donna Carnes has asked that we have this Tribute now, to honor him, before too much time has passed. There are two parts to this event: the morning event, which will be in a very large hall, is open and public; the technical session, which is in a smaller hall, we are asking people to register for (on the web site), so we have an idea of how many are coming.

Please go to the tribute website for information, and to register.

– Joe

updates on the search for Jim

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

It has been many months of quiet here.

However, there is a new, very well-done article by Steve Silberman in Wired this week that was done with input from the family, the Coast Guard, and many of Jim’s friends and colleagues. The article describes the efforts made by so many — including folks active here — to help find Jim. I recommend it.

Search status

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Since January 28, the San Francisco police, the Coast Guard and Jim’s friends and family have conducted an extensive search to find him and his sailboat, Tenacious, off the California coast. I want to summarize the status of that search here, so that the broad volunteer community that’s done so much knows where we stand.

The Coast Guard’s air and surface search covered 132,000 square miles in the days immediately following Jim’s disappearance. This search was thorough: Planes, boats and helicopters covered much of the region repeatedly. Radio broadcast alerts were made for a week, and all marinas and harbors were canvassed repeatedly. It found no trace of Tenacious or Jim.

During the Coast Guard search and in the days that followed it, Jim’s friends and family assembled satellite imagery, collected wind and current data and arranged for more air and surface searches over the ocean and coast from Oregon and into Mexico. We have walked stretches of coastline and have postered marinas with details on the missing boat. The story has drawn attention from around the world.

Based on our knowledge of the boat and weather conditions, we do not believe that Tenacious could have outsailed our search, whether it was under power, adrift, sailing under autopilot, or even sailing at best possible speed. We have covered an enormous area.

In the last several days, the Friends of Jim group has reviewed all the data with Coast Guard officials. The fact is that we have no evidence as to what has happened to Tenacious or to Jim Gray. Neither we nor the Coast Guard can come up with a surface search plan that is likely to find either Tenacious or Jim, given everything that has been done already.

Accordingly, the Friends of Jim group is suspending its active effort to find Tenacious that has been centered here at the blog. For both the Coast Guard and the Friends of Jim, “suspension” means that the active search has been discontinued due to exhausting all present leads and the lack of new information. Of course, should we or the Coast Guard receive any new information, we will investigate it.

Understandably, Jim’s family is determined to continue to seek answers, but they deserve to be able to pursue them privately. The family deeply appreciates everything the Coast Guard and Friends of Jim have done.

Jim’s wife Donna asked me to add this statement of thanks from her on behalf of the family:

On behalf of our entire family, I would like to thank every individual and organization who helped, and is continuing to help, in a long and difficult search. As the search takes on a new direction, I want you to know that your faith, hard work and boundless creativity sustain us during this unbearable time.

Jim is very lucky to have you as friends and colleagues, and we are very lucky and grateful to have your support.

Below, in the previous post to the blog, we have posted recent photos of Jim, photos of Tenacious at anchor and under sail, and an email address where you can send any information that could help us with our search. Coast Guard and San Francisco Police contact numbers are also listed.

  • The e-mail address is
  • The Coast Guard contact number is (415) 399-3547.
  • The San Francisco police department contact number is (415) 553-1071.

Thank you, one and all, for this amazing effort to find our Jim.

Contact information and photos

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Anyone with information about Tenacious or Jim Gray should contact:

  • The San Francisco Police Department at (415) 553-1071.
  • The US Coast Guard at (415) 399-3547.
  • Our search email address,

Jim was last seen on January 28, 2007. Here are several photographs of him and of his 40-foot C&C sailboat, Tenacious, sail number 31869.

Jim Gray

Jim Gray



The state of efforts

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007


Some amazing things have been accomplished here. We can all be very proud. We can also continue to be hopeful. Here are some things to know now, if you don’t know already.

  • The main public MTurk work has reached its end. The effort has been just phenomenal. In addition to Werner Vogels’ post here, there is a summary note from the MTurk team up at that is well worth seeing.
  • As Werner Vogels alluded to, experienced folks from academia and industry will work a high-bandwidth image analysis pipeline in the next day or so to process additional imagery. Multiple independent groups will do this for redundancy (Jim will be proud.) In short, the imagery effort continues. I’m told by the image folks that a lot of knowledge and tools have evolved in the last week that will make them very much more efficient and effective.
  • As discussed in recent posts, private planes continue to fly doing visual searches. The Coast Guard continues to be marvelously cooperative. More planes will likely be going out, weather permitting. Two storms are headed this way, though, so let’s hope for a window of good weather, and safe, safe flying.

I also want to talk a bit about how things are evolving here.

Information on Tenacious

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

The following “State of Tenacious” is a listing of equipment on Tenacious at the time of Jim’s trip to the Farallones. There are also some data on Jim’s sailing practices and phone call Sunday morning.

This was compiled with the help of the US Coast Guard and Jim’s wife, Donna. It has been checked for accuracy. If some items become very critical in the search, they can be confirmed, and perhaps further elaborated. This list will be updated as new information becomes available.

If you have questions, please post them here.

Standard Safety Equipment

Life Jackets – yes: Standard orange type. The vests are kept down below, in storage, in the aft cabin and in the head area. Jim also has a slim red float vest made by the company who made his foul weather gear (Henri Lloyd). It fits under a matching red foul weather jacket. The red float vest has a navy blue interior, and no neck support. Jim does not wear a vest while sailing inside San Francisco Bay. On the open water, he sometimes wears the Henri Lloyd slim vest, in wind and sea, and/or cold. He bought one inflatable tube-type vest for Christmas a year ago for his wife that is on the boat.  (38 gram Sentinel self-inflating life vest.)  This one is water activated, with manual backup. Jim was probably not wearing this inflatable life preserver during his trip.

Tether: yes – (see “Sailing Practices”)

Flares – yes

Flashlight – yes

Spotlight – yes

Dye Marker – maybe (there was a safety kit of some type on board)

Mirror – maybe (can be used for signaling).

Smoke Marker – maybe

Auxiliary Generator – no

Radar Reflector – yes

Drogue Anchor – yes: This is the type that can be used during a storm to slow the drift of the boat (usually a 9 to 15 foot diameter parachute-type device for a 40 foot boat).

Anchors and Anchor Line – yes: Two anchors, 200 feet of chain, lots of line.

Life raft – no

Dinghy – yes: Deflated Avon dinghy stowed in starboard deep lazarette in the cockpit.

Fire Extinguishers – yes, as required by law. One in the forward v-berth, one by the companionway stair down into the cabin near the stove, and a third one in the aft cabin or stern area near the engine.

Life Ring– yes: Horseshoe type, usually clipped in a holder on the aft rail. Holder or the stand it sits in is incredibly tight and is very hard to get it out even unclipped.  May have also had a Lifesling.  This is a life ring type device on a 150 foot line, tied to the boat.


EPRIB – yes: Purchased at West Marine some years ago. It is small, self-deploying, self-activating, and not mounted outside. It is stored (not mounted) at the companionway stairs (in an open pocket). Brand and model are not known at this time. Is thought to be suitable for blue water use. It may not have been registered with the Coast Guard. The state of the batteries in the EPIRB is not known.

Radar – yes: Raymarine SL-72 display, purchased in 2000.

Fathometer – yes.

Knot Log (speedometer) – yes.

GPS – yes (several): One is a Garmin 48, purchased in 2000.

Chartplotter – yes: One of the GPSs has a chartplotter.

PC for Navigation – yes, but it was left at home.

CD/stereo radio – yes.

VHF radio – yes: VHF is the fixed mount type powered by the boat’s 12 Volt system. The antenna location for this radio is on the masthead.

Handheld VHF – yes: Standard Horizon HX-350s handheld VHF (submersible to 3 feet
for 30 minutes), purchased in 2000.

HF (single sideband) radio – probably not.

AIS Receiver – no (for tracking large ships on a PC or chart plotter).

Electronic Autopilot – yes: Autohelm that works off the boat’s house batteries.

Boat Batteries: Four 12 Volt batteries in two banks of two each. Normally used only one bank at a time. Controlled by a “1 – 2 – Both” type battery switch.

12 Volt charger for cell phone: Charge for cell phone and wireless device chargers may have been with him.

Cell phone antenna amplifier and external antenna – no


Water: for more than two weeks: probably 40 gallons.

Food: approximately one week.

Objects that might float: Boat hook is hollow aluminum and will sink. Man overboard pole is secured with velcro/canvas in two spots, with a weight on the end, unlikely to break free or slip off. There are cockpit cushions, but Jim would not have put the cockpit cushions in the cockpit, and they were probably left down below, as he is single handing. Cushions in the cabin would float if they were not trapped inside the cabin.

Sailing Practices

Normally Jim does not wear a tether in the Bay when sailing alone unless conditions are bad. In open sea sailing single handed, he does wear a tether. At the Sunday 10:30 AM phone conversation, his wife asked him if he was tethered in and he said “yes,” and he promised to stay tethered in the rest of the trip. But, he would have disconnected the tether if he needed to go below to use the head, or for other reasons. He might have untethered every few hours.

To be safe, Jim would generally keep to the edge of the main ship channel, or just outside the channel while outside of the Golden Gate Bridge. On Sunday (on the way out), he called to say he was at [or past?] the last channel marker, at 15 miles out.

REVISION: Last ping from Jim’s smartphone

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Apparently there has been confusion about the last time Jim’s smartphone checked in. There is now good reason to believe that the timestamps being used are GMT, not PST. Hence it’s likely that

The last time Jim’s smartphone checked in was 11:50 AM, not 7:50 PM.

This is consistent with Jim sailing out of range outbound to the Farallons.

Prior to that, Jim’s smartphone had been checking in every 20 minutes starting at 5:08 AM.

I know everybody is doing their all to get info out, and sometimes it needs to be revised. Let’s make sure the corrections get posted just as quickly as people find them out.

Thanks to all for their goodwill and honest efforts under fire.

Account from Brett Hartl Who May Have Seen Jim’s Boat at the Farallon Islands on Sunday Afternoon

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Several press accounts said that someone from the National Fish and Wildlife Service reported seeing a boat at the Farallon Islands on Sunday and that it might have been Jim’s boat. The account in the Mercury News reported that the sighting occurred at 7:30 PM. That seemed unlikely since sunset was at 5:29 PM Sunday. I am working on a detailed timeline for Jim’s trip and decided to see if I could contact the person who made the sighting. With great help from Pete Warzybok at PRBO Conservation Science ( I was able to contact Brett Hartl a PRBO intern living on the island. He is the one who made the sighting. Here is Brett’s account.

I have sent Brett the URLs for the two pictures of  “Tenacious” on the Coast Guard web site. I have also asked if he can pinpoint the time of the observation any more precisely. I will let you know more when he replies.

Hi Phil,

 My name is Brett Hartl and I am the intern that probably saw Jim Gray’s boat on Sunday.  I called in to the Coast Guard about what little information I had, but I am happy to pass it on to you.  At the time, I did not think much of seeing a boat near the islands, since there are often sailboats out around the island on weekends.  I didn’t even realize until late Monday night that there was a search underway.  But here are the details I can recall. I was walking around the west side of Southeast Farallon Island on Sunday on my way to Fisherman’s Bay.  I looked out and saw a boat fairly far out from the island between here and middle Farallon Island (1-2 miles offshore).  I am guessing I saw the boat some point in the early afternoon, but I did not note the time.  I do not think the boat was heading south or on a course that would have brought it back around the south side of the island.  If I had to guess, I would say it was going either north or west from Southeast Farallon Island.  I never looked with binoculars at the boat, so I could not tell if anyone was onboard.  That is all I can really say for sure about the boat.  I still have not seen a photograph of what the boat actually looks like (from my vantage it looked reddish), so I still am not 100% sure I even saw the correct boat. We saw the coast guard helicopters and cutters out searching yesterday.  I hope they have found some clues to your friend’s whereabouts and that he is located soon.  If you have any questions, I will try my best to answer them for you.Sincerely,Brett Hartl

RADARSAT-1 imagery news from Melanie Engram.

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Pasting in an email I just got from Melanie. I should say that Jim’s craft has a radar reflector on the mast, and that algorithmic processing, rather than visual inspection, may well prove useful here.

Melanie writes:

The Canadians have tasked the RADARSAT-1 SAR satellite with two more imaging events: for 3-Feb and 4-Feb., scheduled specifically for Jim’s search. These are the next two orbits that cover the area and the incidence angles are much better for ship detection. The MDA Corporation will make the data available to the same distribution list as last time, at no charge.

2007-Feb-03 02:21; Standard 7 beam mode
Planned in Freeze, OBR (just outside of PASS visibility)
Playback 03-Feb 11:07 UTC – Saturday morning

2007-Feb-04 14:07; Fine 4 beam mode
For planning in Friday Freeze, Realtime Prince Albert

Please let Jim’s family and friends know that the generous response from the Canadians, who own and manage RADARSAT-1, is unprecedented in my experience. I hope it lends some comfort to know that Jim’s search has elicited a large, high-tech response from the international SAR community. When I say “Canadians” I mean: MDA Geospatial Services, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Canadian Data Processing Facility (CDPF).

Please thank Jim’s wife for her description of Jim’s boat. I also found photos of Jim’s boat on a USCG page, showing reflector, mast, hull, angles that might reflect, etc.:

This is still a small boat and a lot of time has passed, but MDA says the SAR imagery will be available about 15:00-17:00utc Saturday and about 18:00-20:00utc for those who want it (same distribution method as last time).

Thanks to the ASF team in Alaska, and to MDA and the CSA, for the tremendous efforts on this.

Correction: This is what we are looking for

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

The ship I originally pointed out is Not the Tenacious. She is the larger one to the left.

I just learned that Jim swapped slips in the middle of 2006. The aerial image were taken BEFORE then in late 2005.

Updated link:

If you follow this link and switch to birdsey view, you can actually tell that this boat is not white. However I would not go as far as saying it is definitely red.

Here is a screenshot. Tenacious is the large one, 2 slips to the left of the
green tarp in the center.


The satellite images are only one third of this resolution, but there is a distinct shape and pattern to it (I hope).