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Owner of Tomales Bay Oyster Company Lost in Waters Near Hog Island

A search for the missing person has been suspended

Cindy Chen/Flickr

A search for Charles “Tod” Friend, the owner of Tomales Bay Oyster Company and co-owner of The Marshall Store who disappeared from his boat on Tuesday, was suspended yesterday after no sign of the beloved local oysterman could be found. Friend’s flat-bottomed skiff was spotted empty, idling in circles, less than 15 minutes after he was last seen, dropping off employees at the Miller boat launch in Tomales Bay about five miles south of Hog Island.

45 public safety officials and 30 members of the public conducted the search for Friend Tuesday evening and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. before the Marin County Sheriff’s Office called off the search. They now list Friend, age 70, as a missing person, leaving his family and friends to begin to mourn his loss.

Friend was alone on his skiff when he went missing, reportedly heading south from the Miller boat launch to the boat ramp in Marshall near his company’s oyster farm, a four-mile trip. Employees aboard a Hog Island Oyster Company boat noticed Friend’s empty skiff 13 minutes after he was last seen about 400 yards off shore near the Marshall Boat works.

Search efforts began Tuesday and continued Wednesday as the Marin County sheriff’s department enlisted the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, the Marin County Fire Department, the California Highway Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the National Park Service. Others in the collegial oyster community aided the search in their own kayaks and single-engine boats. After scouring the areas where Friend was most likely to have been found, the search was suspended.

Tod Friend, an Oakland resident, took over Tomales Bay Oyster Company in 2009 and also shared ownership of The Marshall Store, a popular oyster restaurant on Highway 1, with his daughter Heidi and son Shannon. He began working in the area as a Hog Island employee in 1989 after managing his father’s vineyard near Healdsburg. Friends and family were gathered at the Marshall Store yesterday, where they remembered Friend as hardworking and kind.

Tomales Bay Oyster Company

15479 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940

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