Hundreds of supporters are expected today at a welcome-home celebration in Newport Harbor for the Rapture, a 145-foot vessel, and its captain, Scott McClung, who was freed after being detained in Mexico for five weeks on suspicion of weapons violations.
“We’re getting ready with a large celebration for Scott that will include a boat parade and dozens, if not hundreds, of schoolchildren,” said William Bollard, McClung’s attorney.
At first the Rapture was expected Thursday, but Bollard said the ship made good headway through a storm off Acapulco. According to plans, the Rapture will reach the mouth of the harbor about 10:45 a.m. where it will be met by about 15 vessels that will escort it to a berth at Lido Village about 11:30.
McClung, 36, was arrested Aug. 10 along with his father, Eugene McClung, and first mate, Noah Bailey, in Cozumel, a resort island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
McClung’s father and Bailey were released after nine days. But Scott McClung was held and charged with violating Mexico’s strict weapons laws because he had two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles and three shotguns aboard the $4.5-million ship. He told authorities the weapons were for protection against criminals at sea.
McClung was taken to a private medical clinic after collapsing during a court hearing. He was confined to a clinic room until a federal judge ordered him released two weeks ago, and he rejoined his crew aboard the Rapture.
Among those awaiting the ship’s return is Carol Bailey, 29, of Dana Point, wife of Noah Bailey, 31.
When she last saw her husband, he kissed her goodbye and said he would see her in three weeks. That was the time it would have taken for the trip from Florida, where the vessel was built, to Southern California.
“I haven’t seen him for nearly three months,” Carol Bailey said. “Our baby was 6 days old when he left. He was born on June 19, and Noah left on June 25.”
On Tuesday, her husband called her at home and lifted her spirits.
“He said he’s been really tired because of the storm and hasn’t been able to sleep,” she said. “I was excited that he called. It was from a cell phone and to me, it meant he was in cell phone range.”