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A Sleeping Captain Grounds His Yacht

Times Staff Writer

A 57-foot powerboat ran aground early Monday after its owner set it on autopilot and fell asleep as he returned from Santa Catalina Island, officials said.

The Fin Yacht, a Carver yacht, left Catalina about midnight Sunday, with the man and woman aboard falling asleep after the autopilot was set, said Sgt. David Ginther of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol.

The vessel ran aground on Crystal Cove State Beach near Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive.

The couple awoke at 1:30 a.m. to find the yacht nearing the beach at low tide. It grounded on rocks south of Newport Beach. No one was injured.

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“They didn’t have time to correct the boat when they woke up,” Ginther said. “Since it was on autopilot, it just kept motoring.”

The couple did not contact authorities until 5 a.m., Ginther said.

A salvage company vessel retrieved the yacht, which cost between $700,000 to $1 million new, during high tide Monday evening.

The boat is in one piece, but there will be no damage estimate until it is examined more closely.

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