Archive for the ‘planes and boats’ 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



Sunday afternoon update.

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

The storm that’s kept us on the ground for the last several days finally passed through overnight, so we were able to put two planes in the air today.

Those flights were aimed at specific search areas, based on results from our image processing and the work of our ocean surface drift modelling team. We had found two possible sightings of Tenacious in the imagery, and went out to look for it.

The first possible sighting was off the coast of Monterey, California. This image was captured by a NASA ER-2 overflight. The target was found by our image analysis team. We sent a flight out this morning that flew a search pattern over the area into which that boat would have drifted.

The second possible sighting was out past the Farallon islands, Jim’s intended destination on Sunday two weeks ago. This target was spotted by the volunteers working on the Amazon Mechanical Turk search, and was vetted by image processing experts who confirmed that it was the right size and shape to be Jim’s boat. As for the Monterey target, we put a plane in the air and flew a search pattern over the area into which we would have expected the boat to drift since the image was captured.

Neither of our flights found Tenacious. It was an excellent day for spotting, and we were able to see other craft and even wildlife — large submerged whales and orcas or dolphins at the surface.

We’re confident that the imagery shows sailboats, and that those boats are similar to Tenacious in size and shape. We flew thorough and careful searches. It’s highly likely that these were ordinary boats on the water, and in no distress. They weren’t Tenacious.

It’s good to see the results of our image processing and drift modelling turn up targets for our flight team. We still have imagery in the pipeline, and will put planes in the air as our analysis turns up new targets. Today’s results are disappointing, of course, but the search is still underway.

Thanks to those of you who got the science done, who arranged for the search flights, and who piloted or spotted on today’s flights.

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.

Another boat for Monday

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Reza Wahadj arranged a boat for Monday from 8 AM till 5 PM. Anyone in the Bay area willing to join can reach him at 858-717-0979 on Sunday.


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!

Flight Report for 2/2

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Today (Friday) we had four aircraft in the air.

 John Nauman, a “friend of Jim” and pilot, flew the coast from San Luis Obispo north to the Golden Gate.  Results were similar to yesterday — no Tenacious in whole or debris.

We had a charter twin engine flight leave out of San Carlos at approximately 2pm.  They flew over deep water from Santa Cruz south to Big Sur and out about 20 miles in an S pattern.  Same results as yesterday — no Tenacious and no debris.

The two other flights were flown IK Curtis out of Burbank California.  One plane flew north to Morro Bay, CA.  The second plane flew south to the Mexican border.  The results are similar to all other previous flights.  No Tenacious.  Very little if any debris.  

 We have now completely covered the coast of California, a few locations three times.  We have learned how technically difficult it is plan and execute searches over deep water.  Personally, I have my respect for the work the USCG performed has only multiplied as we have tried to do what they do so well.

We are currently researching the possibility of one more flight over deep water.  It will probably be the last one we launch.  John Nauman and his wife plan to fly the coastline from roughly from the Golden Gate north to Eureka. 

Several of us will discuss over the weekend whether to continue launching our own search flights.

Thursday Search Flight Details – Half Moon Bay South

Friday, February 2nd, 2007


Some details which other searchers may find useful:

Jim and I covered the roughly 200 miles from the point at Half Moon Bay down to Morro Rock.

As Jim Bellingham described, we flew at slightly above 1,000 feet, searched by eye and used binoculars on a few curiosities. We circled on roughly four interesting objects, getting a better, longer look to rule out the possibilities. A blue-green tent, a boat shaped white rock, a tide pool with a bright reflection. I used a cruise speed of around 160 knots, which required intense concentration but allowed us to cover a good range.

As Jim B. also said, conditions for searching were very good – no whitecaps, clear air below the ~2,500′ overcast, few pleasure boats out to distract. There was surprisingly little debris on the shore, other than driftwood. While we may have missed smaller objects, I have a high degree of confidence that there were no boats aground along our stretch.

Having two pilots (Bellingham is licensed and very good, and though not current to act as pilot in command, flew much of the way) was very helpful, as the shore-side searched while the ocean side flew and watched for other aircraft, a frequent occurrence along the coast. (Hence not exactly 1,000 feet). My plane is a low-wing variety, so we needed to bank the wing down a few times to see back into some coves. A high-wing type plane might be slightly better.

We took along, but did not use, a marine band hand held radio. Had we seen something interesting, and not been able to raise the Coast Guard, we planned to note the GPS coordinates, circle and climb into air traffic control radar coverage, and have ATC relay a message to the coast guard.

Finally, in spite of the circumstances, we had a beautiful, comradely flight, an experience I highly recommend for anyone able to lend a hand. Later in the afternoon, the tinted shafts of sunlight light fanning down under the clouds were stunning. Herb’s photo, lovely as it is, only hints at what awaits the willing.

My cold got terrible after we landed, so I am out of action for now. But if anyone has questions, please call or email me.

Best of luck!

Great name for a boat, by the way, “Tenacious”. Especially when she goes missing!

Scott Wedge
831-425-7258 (bypasses the spam trap on, but is temporary)
Tail number N87JS, Beechcraft Bonanza B36TC, Watsonville based. Private pilot, instrument rated.

Take Pictures Too

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

It’s good for folks to get up in planes and try to spot Jim, his boat, or other clues. And it’s good to have satellite data. I suggest we combine the ideas and try to have a second spotter in the planes who is taking (hi-res) pictures so that eyes at home can comb through them looking for things that might not be evident from a moving platform. The pictures can be posted somewhere for volunteers to examine. When the pictures are of coastline or slightly inland, it’s probably ok for the spotter to merely note rough position. If something is spotted, I’m sure we can figure out where it is by comparing to clear satellite images.

Plan for Today from Tom Barclay

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

We got 3 planes up today. I’m shooting for 6 tomorrow (Friday). I probably will end up with 4. Surprisingly, we will run out places to search. We don’t have the range that the USCG does.

Big issue is that we need a minimum of a two engine, two experienced pilots, to send out over deep water. We will make a run down the coastline all the way to LA and a ring around Catalina.

We’ll probably be done by the weekend. We’ll need to depend on satellites for the really far away stuff. We’ve been having our usual low hanging marine layer. It really screws up the satellite acquisition…