SIGHTINGS englishmen rigged catboat built by Norseboat, Inc., of Nova Scotia. The boat has an enclosed bow, but that will be full of stores. “We can get out of the weather to sleep but not in a closed space,” says Oliver. “There is room for one of us at a time to sleep in the bow of the boat under a canvas cover. When the weather precludes our sailing or rowing, if we can land safely, we will put up our tent.” For more, see their website at www.arcticmariner.org. — jr
a-cup — cont’d tion engine won the America’s Cup? That would be a little strange. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting for what will likely be one of the coolest America’s Cups ever, in some of the most radical boats ever designed. And we’ll also be curious to see if the big black trimaran BMW Oracle has been sailing off San Diego is the boat they end up taking to the match. There’s been plenty of speculation that they have another one in progress. Only time will tell. Max Ebb takes a closer and more edified look at the cat vs. tri question this month, starting on page 122. —rob
sausalito yacht brokers arrested Robert ‘Clay’ Prescott, 65, and his wife, Teresa, 49, were arrested at the Sausalito offices of their yacht brokerage, Anchorage Brokers & Consultants (aka ABC Yachts) on July 16 and taken to the Marin County Jail. According to Deputy D.A. Linda Wong, Clay was charged with eight counts of embezzlement, three counts of writing bad checks, and two counts of embezzling from an elder or dependent adult. Teresa was charged with eight similar counts. In plain English, the Mill Valley residents have been charged with, among other things, selling boats for clients, but then not giving the clients the money due them at the end of the transaction. According to the Sausalito Police, victims claim losses estimated between $250,000 and $270,000. Bail was set at $500,000 for each defendant. A deputy public defender asked that Teresa be released or at least have her bail reduced because the couple have a 17-year-old daughter. The request was denied. On July 24, she made bail but Clay was still in custody. Authorities say they’ve found five victims of ABC Yachts to date, but it’s unclear when the alleged criminal activity began. One Southern California customer of ABC Yachts told us that ABC sold his Sceptre 41, and the new owner, a Canadian, sent ABC Yachts a check for $160,000 on February 25. The seller should have received a check for $144,000 from the ABC trust account in a matter of days. Instead, the seller told us, Clay kept putting him off, promising he’d send the money shortly. On April 1, Teresa allegedly signed a check for the full amount and sent it to the seller. The much-relieved seller quickly deposited it in his checking account. On April 3 he got the bad news — the check was no good. Who knows, maybe it had only been an April Fool’s Day joke. When the seller reached Clay by phone, Prescott reportedly told him, “I’m really sorry, times are tough. We took your money.” When asked where the money had gone, Prescott reportedly said, “We spent it,” adding that he hoped to pay the man back over time. Indeed, on April 10, ABC sent a good check for $5,000 to the seller. Unfortunately, that was just 3.5% of what he was supposed to receive. On April 4, a day or so after the seller learned the first check had bounced. he called the Sausalito Police Department. “If there is one hero in this case,” says the seller, “it’s Sausalito Officer Sean Smagalski. Within one hour of receiving a copy of the bad check, he was in his car looking for the Prescotts. It was he who got the Marin County D.A. involved. It was he who got the Department of Boating & Waterways involved. It was he who found out there were at least four other victims, who inexplicably didn’t report not getting paid for their boats. It was Officer Smagalski who put together a 700-page file on the case.” Nonetheless, it’s at this point that the legal system and the state completely failed the consumer. For one thing, the state agency that regulates yacht brokers requires that a broker carry a bond worth just $15,000 — a rather trifling sum for businesses that may holdhundreds of thousands of dollars in their trust accounts at one time, wouldn’t you agree? Secondly, for a period of more than 3.5 months, neither DBW nor the Marin County D.A. did anything to close down ABC Yachts or continued on outside column of next sightings page August, 2009 •
• Page 77
The August 2009 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.