James Nicholas Gray

Gray, circa 2007; Gray's boat, the Tenacious

  • Missing Since 01/28/2007
  • Missing From San Francisco, California
  • Classification Lost/Injured Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 01/12/1944 (75)
  • Age 63 years old
  • Height and Weight 6'2 - 6'3, 190 - 195 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A blue or white shirt, a cream-colored crewneck sweater, a black rain jacket, blue Levi's jeans, a gold wedding ring with a boat engraved on it, and a silver ring with a large mosaic turquoise stone or black coral stones.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Graying brown hair, brown eyes. Gray's nickname is Jim. He has thick eyebrows and a scar on the upper left side of his chest. He wears large-framed eyeglasses. He had a white beard at the time of his disappearance.

Details of Disappearance

Gray was last heard from on the morning January 28, 2007, when he called his wife and daughter on his cellular phone. He was sailing alone on the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco, California at the time; he was planning to scatter his mother's cremains near the Farallon Islands, a wildlife refuge 27 miles offshore.

Sailing conditions that day were excellent: the sea was calm, visibility was good and there was no inclement weather.

Gray has never been heard from again. His wife reported him as a missing person at 8:35 p.m. on January 29, when he did not return as scheduled and did not answer his cellular phone. His boat, a 40-foot Canadian-made fiberglass C&C 40 yacht named the Tenacious, has never been located.

A photograph of the boat is posted with this case summary. It has a red hull with silver and white side stripes, and a black mast.

Authorities stated Gray's yacht was equipped with high-tech communications and safety gear, including a marine radio, an emergency beacon to blast a signal if the boat sank, and an inflatable lifeboat. Gray also usually wore a safety harness while sailing.

An extensive search of the ocean turned up no sign of Gray, his boat or any wreckage, and no one reported any distress signals. If he fell overboard, he would not have been able to survive more than a few hours in the cold water. He is described as a skilled sailor with over ten years of experience on the water.

Investigators believe Gray died in an accident at sea; they stated there is no indication that he vanished intentionally.

He was a nationally recognized computer science researcher in 2007, and managed Microsoft's eScience Group in San Francisco. He was the first ever recipient of a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley's computer science department, earning his degree in 1969. His case remains unsolved.

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 31, 2009; details of disappearance updated.