REDWOOD CITY -- Three people arrested after a boozy party aboard a stolen yacht that crashed aground in Pacifica are being held in lieu of $1.01 million bail due to the high value of the luxury vessel.
Because authorities believe the 82-foot sailboat named Darling is worth more than $1 million, they have set a hefty bail for the suspects in the incident, a Wyoming man and a pair from Aptos, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. The trio remain behind bars after the strange stand off that began early Monday when someone spotted the boat stranded in the sand just off Linda Mar Beach.
Yachts of the same make, model and year are advertised online for $2.8 million.
Leslie Gardner, 63 of Gillette, Wy.; and Dario Mira, 54, and Lisa Modawell, 55, both of Aptos are due in San Mateo County Superior Court Wednesday if prosecutors decide to file charges. They are being held on suspicion of boat theft.
Darling owner John Fruth, the founder of Concord-based Ocular Sciences, Inc., a soft contact lens company, declined to speak to media Monday. A call to a number listed at Fruth's home Tuesday was not returned.
The yacht thieves forced their way into the Darling, but had a little help in getting the boat's motor started. The boat's keys were left in the cabin and police theorize the thieves used them to start the boat's engine and cruise away, according to Sausailto police Lt. Kurtis Skoog.
A salvage company towed the Oyster Marine 82 sailboat overnight to the Bay Marine Boatworks in Point Richmond for repairs after the vessel spent at least 12 hours stuck in sand and battered by waves.
"It's going to be at least a couple of months" until the repairs are complete, said Erik Mattson, the general manager at the boatyard. Among the damages were a cracked keel and a leak in the hull. The rudder on the ¿boat also appeared to be damaged, Mattson said.
The 700-gallon diesel fuel tank also appears to have leaked a small amount of fuel into the water, according to Pacifica police. The amount was so small, Coast Guard officials told police, that it could not be recovered.
On the inside of the yacht, "it looks like they were having a huge party," Mattson said. "There were boxes and clothes everywhere. I'm sure when the boat was out rocking on the water, everything inside got spilled."
Police in Pacifica and Sausalito continue to investigate, but Mattson speculated that somebody aboard the yacht must've had some working knowledge of how to operate a vessel that large.
"It's a difficult experience trying to maneuver a boat this size, especially if you're trying to get it out of a harbor," he said. "Most boats this size aren't locked up very securely, because they're so difficult to operate. But even if you do break a lock, there's still a large set of procedures for powering the boat on. That's why it's more common for people to steal small boats."
The suspects initially ignored attempts by the Coast Guard and later Pacifica police to contact them Monday morning. Police later learned the boat was stolen from Sausalito Yacht Harbor earlier Monday. The trio gave themselves up around noon, leading authorities to find a boat cabin littered with drained beer bottles and empty pizza boxes.