Elizabeth and Jeffery Easterling Died on First Sailing Trip 'Out the Gate'

Categories: Local News
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Jeff and Beth Easterling's empty boat, the Barcarolle. This was, apparently, the couple's maiden voyage 'out the Gate.''
Jeff and Beth Easterling were experienced sailors. Their ship, the Barcarolle, was a good boat. But they had apparently never before experienced the conditions "out the Gate" near the Cliff House. They died there on Sunday.

"Yeah, they'd been on the water. They owned two different boats.But I don't think they'd ever been at sea," said Mike Tryon the commodore of Richmond's Marina Bay Yacht Club, which the Easterlings joined in 2009. "They had expressed to me how they wanted to go out the Gate" -- out of the bay and into the open ocean -- "But were a little concerned with doing that."

During windy, choppy conditions on Sunday, the Easterlings somehow became separated from their battered boat. Their bodies washed up near Ocean Beach, while the vessel beached itself near Eagle Point. The National Park Service is investigating the Barcarolle for clues, but it is not yet known why the experienced sailors jumped or fell overboard. "They seemed good at what they were doing," said Tryon. "But , you know, the ocean is like that. You can't take anything for granted, ever."



Beth Easterling's daughter, Gina Ortolan, told the Contra Costa Times this was the couple's "test run in the ocean," prior to a planned jaunt to Cabo San Lucas following Beth's retirmement next year. Beth, 50, was a software engineer at Oracle; Jeff, 59, was a retired BART mechanic.

The Coast Guard would neither confirm nor deny if the Easterlings were wearing life jackets. But Tryon said it was inconceivable they weren't. "I can't imagine them ever doing something like that," he said.

"Anybody going out the Gate who doesn't have a lifejacket on -- that's silly," added another member of the Marina Bay Yacht Club, who declined to be quoted by name.

Reached at the Easterlings' home in El Sobrante, a friend -- who declined to be identified -- told SF Weekly that the couple was married five years ago and leaves behind four grown children (those children and others could be heard grieving in the background). Jeff, she said, had been sailing for 30 years. 

"They were well-loved and very happy," said the friend.

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