Coast Guard searches for missing sailor

March 16, 2008 7:37:21 PM PDT
A Coast Guard search is underway right now for two sailors who disappeared after a weekend race near the Golden Gate Bridge.Those sailors were last seen yesterday around 1:00 p.m., about six miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Now the search has expanded to the south, where a body has washed ashore.

The San Mateo County Sheriffs Department won't comment on the body they found this afternoon off the coast of San Mateo. The Coast Guard ship, The Tern, has just come back from leading the search for the 31-foot sailboat, Daisy, and her two-man crew. The Coast Guard says it's very difficult for anyone to survive the frigid waters for more than 24 hours, but are still hoping to find survivors.

68-year-old retired neurosurgeon Matthew Kirby Gale is still believed missing at sea. His slip at the Richardson Bay Marina is empty and his car in the parking lot holds an old boat radio and sea charts. His son, Matthew Karl Gale, says the family reported him missing when he failed to return last night from a race 12 miles out to sea.

"Race officials called us saying that they hadn't heard from or seen his boat come back into the bay," says Mathew.

Mathew says his father and the man accompanying him, Tony Harrow, had sailed together before. He says the boat, the Daisy, had recently been well equipped.

"He installed a radio and GPS system in the last week," says Mathew.

The family called the Coast Guard Saturday night, which initiated a wide search about 4 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. The search ranged from San Francisco, where the boat was last seen at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, down to San Mateo County. This morning the Coast Guard found debris off the San Mateo coast.

"It was a wooden vessel, so some planking, also some materials that looked like it could be a cooler," says Cmdr. Pat Dequattro of the U.S. Coast Guard.

A body was later recovered by San Mateo sheriffs off the coast of Montara, near Moss Beach, on Sunday afternoon.

"It was a Caucasian male of approximately 60-years-old," says Captain Paul Gugg of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Neither the Coast Guard nor the San Mateo Sheriffs Department have issued an identification. The Coast Guard says the man was wearing a life vest. They are still holding out hope that a survivor, or survivors, will be found if the Daisy did indeed sink or break apart.

Seasoned sailor, Lou Woodrum, says the channel outside the bay is a challenge, especially in weather like Saturday's.

"Wouldn't have been particularly bad, unless they had a gear failure. Loss of stick, loss of stay, loss of rudder, which all that happens."

Matthew Gale says his family is waiting for any word.

"The family is holding up. We're together, waiting by the phone," says Mathew.

Gale's son said his father is an experienced sailor and has participated in that race before. The Coast Guard says they will be searching for the Daisy until they lose light tonight and begin searching again on Monday.