Search widens for missing sailor 

The Coast Guard expanded its search Tuesday in hopes of finding a 63-year-old sailor missing at sea since Sunday.

Jim Gray, an award-winning computer scientist and researcher for Microsoft, last spoke to his wife Sunday at about 10:30 a.m., when he was 10 miles east of his destination, the Farallon Islands.

With no sign of Gray by 8:30 p.m., his wife called the Coast Guard and a search effort began, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jonathan Cilley said.

The Coast Guard is now searching an area of 15,904 nautical miles, stretching north to Bodega Bay.

Gray and his 40-foot-long sailboat, Tenacious, had yet to be found Tuesday, and members of the sailing community remained baffled as to how he could have disappeared without a trace.

According to 40-year sailing veteran Drew Harper, an instructor with Spinnaker Sailing out of Pier 40, the sailing conditions Sunday were just about perfect.

"It was a gorgeous day out there, the wind at its peak was gusting to 7 knots, waves were 1.9 feet — basically, really flat and pretty," Harper said.

If something did go wrong, Gray, who had been sailing for 10 years, placed no distress calls to the Coast Guard even though he had plenty of on-board ways to do so, Cilley said.

Harper speculated that Gray’s boat could have had a mechanical failure or been damaged and sunk by a floating container, or he could have simply fallen overboard as his boat kept running on autopilot.

Anthony Sandberg, a 50-year sailing veteran and founder of OCSC sailing school in Berkeley, said sailing does have its risks but the situation is rather atypical.

"Boats typically don’t disappear, and people don’t disappear," Sandberg said.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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