A Santa Rosa man watching a Monday morning TV news drama of a luxury sailboat beached off of Pacifica realized that it was his 82-foot yacht and that it had been stolen from a Sausalito harbor.
John Fruth called Sausalito police at 8:16 a.m.
"He stated that while he was watching a news broadcast he saw a story about the vessel and he recognized the vessel as his own," Sausalito Police Sgt. Bill Fraass said.
Authorities said two men and a woman aboard the boat apparently stole the craft at about 1:30 a.m. and ran aground on a sandbar off Pacifica after a pizza- and beer-fueled voyage.
A website that tracks the course of vessels, marinetraffic.com, showed that the boat had shot out of the Golden Gate and faltered briefly before heading south. West of Mussel Rock, the boat sailed in circles before heading straight for the beach.
After first refusing rescue, the three suspects eventually were brought to shore and arrested after being thrashed about in the surf for the nearly seven hours they were marooned on the sandbar.
The Darling, an Oyster Marine-built sailboat, belongs to Fruth, founder of contact lens manufacturer Ocular Sciences and a current Sonoma Academy trustee, records show.
The boat is registered in the Cayman Islands but docked in Sausalito, Fraass said.
The beach drama began at about 5 a.m. when beachgoers called authorities to report that the boat appeared to be in distress off Linda Mar Beach, also known as Pacifica State Beach.
Radio calls to the boat by the Coast Guard went unanswered. Then the suspects apparently refused help from a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who was lowered by helicopter into the turbulent surf and who tossed a radio onto the boat.