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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 24, 2007 at 2:13 PM

More details on Jim Gray’s disappearance

Wired published a long and thorough recap of the search for Microsoft researcher Jim Gray, including new details about the support offered by people such as Bill Gates and Sergey Brin.

Most interesting to me were details about his boat — it was lightweight and had flooded in the past. The article includes informed speculation by marine search expert Bob Bilger about how quickly it could have sank if Gray hit a log or other debris:

Though Gray was never interested in racing, his boat — a C&C 40 — was built for speed, with a lightweight hull, an unshielded propeller, and an 8,000-pound lead keel for stability. These features make boats like Tenacious graceful and maneuverable in the hands of a skilled sailor like Gray. But they leave the boat vulnerable to damage from heavy objects in the water. Bilger estimates that if a log had opened a hole in the hull that was 6 inches or more in diameter, Tenacious would have taken on a thousand gallons of water a minute. “I can picture a million scenarios that would have put a hole in the bottom,” he says, “with enough water coming in that Jim had no way of shutting it down, slowing it up, or fixing it.”

I wrote about Gray in February.

In retrospect, I should have gone to San Francisco and reported the story from there, but I was getting lots of good information from relatives (like the tidbit about swimming past the Santa Cruz breakwater). It also still seemed possible then that Gray would turn up at any moment.

Comments | Topics: Microsoft

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