Archive for the ‘Cell Phones’ Category

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



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.

Tenacious’s Cellular System

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

The two previous posts by Paula And Mogford bring up leads worth pursuing. While the Coast Guard would have reviewed his onboard equipment in preparation for their search the volunteer effort might benefit from specific knowledge of the vessel’s systems.

This could be very important in regards to his cellular devices. What models he had and how they were used on the boat could have significant impact on how you analyze his Cingular records. And have a great impact on whether his phone could still be on and transmitting after 6 days.

A cellular handset has a notoriously inefficient antenna. While a C&C 40 has limited mounting options I have done many installations on similar sailboats of external antennas and linear GSM amplifiers designed to increase the range.

A complete and ongoing review should be done of his cellular network syncs for the entire US west coast. Coverage in coastal waters is very spotty north of the Channel Islands up through Washington. Southern CA has much better coverage. In spite of this there are many small localized areas where celltower orientation, altitude and geography allows you to acquire a weak signal quite far offshore. Usually too weak to complete a voice call but enough for a network sync. It is very patchy and there are no accurate footprint maps. Even Cingular engineers may not be able to fully answer this coverage question. Our habitation patterns along the central and north coasts result in poorly supported marine cellular coverage. There are some areas around coastal ports that we do know have limited offshore coverage. Any engineers or technicians in the community with pratical knowledge should consider contacting the searchers.

Given this the practical side of pursuing analysis of his cellular phone should not be understated. Except for some particular isolated sections of coast, Had the boat come inshore or traveled parallel to it, there is a fair chance even a handset phone would have passed through an area with enough field strength to sync.

More promising would be to work out, with assistance from the Cingular’s technical staff, a range offshore from a particular tower that handled a ping. For this we need to know how the phone was installed or oriented in the vessel.

The only traceable signal that might be transmitting from the boat is his cellphone. An analysis of his onboard system and particular equipment model may give some indication of how long the vessel may continue transmitting. If the vessel is still out there and has the largest battery bank commonly retrofitted into this size of sailboat, a plugged in cellphone could last for weeks. More likely, if assuming only Navigation lights and VHF were powered, the boat’s batteries may just be dying around Friday giving a cellphone its full standby time on its lithium battery through next week.

getting cingular to release cell phone data

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

In an earlier post, Gary asked if anyone knows anyone at Cingular so we can try to get more detailed data about the cell phone connections that Jim’s PDA made on Sunday (auto syncing). Cingular & Apple have a very close relationship with the new Apple iPhone – so if you know anyone at Apple who we could talk with, to get access to Cingular, that would be super.  John Couch, who used to be at Apple, would be a good contact  (I believe he was a classmate of Jim’s at Cal – at any rate he is a Cal EECS grad) but I have lost track of him, so if anyone is in touch with John, let me know.

Paula Hawthorn

Cell coverage maps

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Does anyone have access to anything that might indicate what sort of cell coverage there is extending offshore in the Golden Gate area and along the nearby shores up and down. A field strength map or something like it would be ideal but even footprint maps would work. thanks.

cell towers on Farallon Islands

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Does anyone know if there are any there?

cell phone breadcrumbs from data and voicecalls

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

I just wanted to let you know that a group of folks are working to get the connectivity data from Jim’s cell phone to build a better view of his initial heading. This includes both the voice (regular phone call) and data (email sync, etc.) components of the connectivity. There is a larger amount of the latter but the problem we are running into is that the carrier doesn’t normally respond with this type of data to law enforcement requests – it is usually only voice traffic that they report on.

If anyone knows anyone who knows anything about using data from cell phones in this way, please let me know.

We’re working this issue at a high level at both Cingular and Microsoft but if anyone has any contacts that might be of use, please send them over.

thanks, Jim


Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

It is amazing to see the whole community come together in helping to search for Jim. This is the second search in a few months where I witness the power of the Internet being harnessed for the search of a missing person. Having managed hundred of searches for missing people I can truly see how this will change how we search for missing people in the future.

 The ability to redeploy satelites and get satelite imagery for analyzis is something we have often wished we had the ability to do. But we have also said that this technology may have its limits as you are experiencing. The resolution of images, enourmous volumes of data and the inability to see through the clouds is something we have considered as problems.

I would therefore like to suggest that you don’t rely entirely on satelite technology. Good old fashioned groundwork is also required. I would therefore like to come up with some suggestions that this group might be able to do/organize. Some of them you may have thought of, but others might help you come up with new ideas

  •  Work on getting more details about the 7:30pm cell phone connection. Work on getting the phone company to find out what tower this came from. This provided valuable information in the search for James Kim in Oregon couple of months ago. Each cell tower has a limited range so tha might help you define a smaller search area.
  • Try to find people who might have met or seen Jim. Put posters up in all marinas around the greater SF area. Show his boat on the poster as well as picture of Jim. This might provide you with more leads of his whereabouts during the day he went missing.
  • Get in touch with sailing organizations and fishermen in the area. See if they are willing to help you organize search on the sea. Getting boats to sail the coastline south and north from SF might provide clues that are not visible from the air. Remember that you may not be looking for the boat but rather debri from it. When organizing a search like this work with the Coast Guard. See if they are willing to help you create search plans. If not find a retired CG search manager who will. If possible get all those searching to track their search using a GPS, then overlay these on the map to get an idea of how much search coverage you have managed.
  • Follow up on an idea posted earlier about tracking ships in the area. Even though they may not have been in collision with the boat they may have seen it sailing.

Hope this creates some ideas of what can be done to search. Remember that a search for a missing person is always a mistery. A mistery is solved by finding clues. The clues come from finding information about the last position the missing person was in and then clues of what might have happened.

Keep up the spirit and keep searching!

A quick apology

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

In re-reading my posts I realized I owed an apology. Lloyd Knox of UC Davis helped me find Tony Tyson who then did they heavy lifting and found the Lucent device. Thanks to Tony Tyson for this work.