Archive for the ‘Meta’ Category

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



Advice on Decision Analysis steps

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Eric Horvitz, expert on probabilistic reasoning and lead of Microsoft Research Adaptive Systems & Interaction Group , offers a probabilistic guide to how to prioritize search. In the attached powerpoint. Be sure to look at the notes on the slides.

Here’s his executive summary:

  • Specify space of potential outcomes
  • Focus on outcomes that assume that Jim is alive
  • Assess likelihoods of key scenarios, conditioned on Jim being alive
  • Work with experts on confidence regions for each of these scenarios
  • Combine via model mixture (weighting by likelihood of each scenario).
  • Take as potential guidelines for triaging visual, other search (MTurk, cell phone ping, etc.)


NPR on Jim’s technical contributions

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Aired Sunday morning on Weekend Edition, here.

Media update

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Just a quick roundup on media coverage, for those of you who are interested.

Since I’m speaking to an audience of mostly geeks, I’ll lead with the fact that the Mechanical Turk effort showed up on Digg earlier today. That drove lots of traffic to the MTurk, speeding up work. A blog search for “tenacious jim gray” turns up plenty of coverage on-line.

In more traditional media, Katie Hafner’s New York Times article has generated plenty of attention. John Glionna at the Los Angeles Times also covered the story in this morning’s edition.  There have been many, many other local papers that have run this, especially here in California.

I did an interview a short while ago with the World Service of the BBC. The interview will run several times overnight from London, and included a description of the boat. In addition to all our efforts with remote sensing and bringing science to bear, here, we don’t want to ignore the importance of coastal residents, sailors or harbormasters who might spot the craft.

Reporters looking for information should feel free to contact me at tenacious at olsons dot net.

NY Times on Saturday

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

See Katie Hafner’s article in Saturday’s NY Times
here. (Remember that Mike Olson is the conduit for press inquiries.)

blog admin note

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Up til now I configured the site so that folks could just sign up and begin posting new articles. In advance of press coverage of the site tomorrow, I am configuring things so that is no longer the case.

I will try and stay on top of requests from new folks to post concrete info. Everyone registered up to now can still do so, and comments remain open to all.