Coast Guard suspends search for sailor

The two men who went missing Saturday aboard the 32-foot sailboat “Daisy,” competed in a boat race despite an advisory warning against the sailing of small crafts as high seas and high winds swept the Bay this weekend.

One of the two sailors, Anthony Harrow, 72, of Larkspur, would never return alive from Saturday’s Double Handed Lightship Race, a daylong competition organized by the Island Yacht Club. Harrow’s body was found by San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies around 11:20 a.m. Sunday at a tide pool area near Moss Beach in San Mateo County, about 20 miles south of the spot the sailboat was last seen.

An hour before Harrow’s body was found, a rudder, wood planks and other debris from the boat were found about four nautical miles west of Daly City, U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Lauren Kolumbic said.

His sailing mate, 67-year-old Kirby Gale, is still missing. The search for Gale was suspended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Kolumbic said.

The Coast Guard had conducted three search operations, Kolumbic said, but decided to call the search off late Sunday, based on the lack of new information and the low probability that Gale is still alive.

Though Saturdaywas mostly sunny, a small-craft warning had been issued because of high winds and high seas. Sea swells reached 16 feet, and gusts of wind blew up to 35 knots, National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin said.

A small-craft warning applies to boats less than about 65 feet, Coast Guard officials said.

“It was pretty bumpy out there,” said Stephen Buckingham, the winner of the race in the same division as Gale’s boat. “The night before, the forecast was 16-foot swells at 16-second intervals and I was thinking of not going.”

The daylong race, which took Daisy and about 45 other boats from Sausalito to a buoy about 14 miles west of the bridge and back, was scheduled to end around 4 p.m. Daisy was about 7 nautical miles offshore at 1 p.m. Saturday when the boat was last seen, said Pat DeQuatro, the Coast Guard’s chief for response operations.

When the boat had not returned by 6 p.m., the Coast Guard began a search for the men. The initial search involved two coast guard boats, a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft and covered 1,347 square miles, as far south as Monterey Bay, Kolumbic said.

Saturday’s incident comes less than four months after two fishermen were lost at sea after going crab fishing off the San Mateo County coast.

Officials from the club could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Family hopes for safe return of missing sailboat captain

The family of a sailboat captain who went missing Saturday hopes the 68-year-old will come home alive. Hope for his shipmate, however, was dashed Sunday when his body was discovered off Moss Beach, near Half Moon Bay.

The search was still on for Mill Valley resident Matthew Kirby Gale, a retired neurologist who previously worked with young doctors at San Francisco General Hospital.

Gale was the skipper of a 32-foot-long sailboat called Daisy competing in the Double Handed Lightship race, a two-man crew competition. The men left Richardson Bay Marina around 9 a.m. and ventured 12 miles out into the Pacific Ocean, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

The second man, Tony Harrow, of Larkspur, was discovered dead in the tidal flats off of Moss Beach’s Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in the Peninsula. He was wearing a life vest. The 72-year-old Harrow, was a bird watching enthusiast. Family members and friends did not return calls for comment.

The two Marin County men were aboard the white sailboat with green trim when it reportedly left from Richardson Bay Marina where it was usually docked.  The boat, a Cheoy Lee model made of fiberglass and wood, is known for its sturdy construction but not for speed.

Gale’s son, Matthew Karl Gale, said his father had been sailing for more than 40 years, and he was also a strong, experienced swimmer who worked as a lifeguard at one point in his life. An East Coast native, Gale moved to Berkeley in the 1970s to complete his medical residency. He worked as a neurologist at Kaiser Permenente and advised interns at San Francisco General Hospital.

“We are just waiting to hear some good news from the Coast Guard,” Gale said.

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