Update: Victoria Clipper IV stolen; SWAT team arrests suspect, who claimed he wanted to get to West Seattle

December 1, 2013 at 9:41 am | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 36 Comments

9:41 AM: If you have a view across Elliott Bay from West Seattle, you might have noticed emergency vessels around one of the Victoria Clipper boats – Carolyn Newman shared the photo, and we received a call from Louise in North Admiral. Seattle Police tweeted, “Report of a suspicious person aboard the otherwise unoccupied Victoria Clipper. Coast Guard has called in our Bomb Squad.” In addition to being unoccupied, the boat is also unmoored. It’s just off the downtown waterfront, but again, in case you noticed the activity from here, that’s what’s up.

9:51 AM: According to tracking information displaying on MarineTraffic.com, the specific boat involved is Victoria Clipper IV.

10:26 AM: Update from SPD: “Officers are in contact with the man on the Victoria Clipper and are still working to resolve the situation.”

10:36 AM: Suspect in custody, SPD tweets:

11:55 AM: According to the SPD Blotter account of the Clipper-commandeering incident, the suspect claims he wanted to take it to West Seattle!

…The boat was discovered 300 yards out from Pier 69 on the Seattle waterfront around 7 AM, and it first appeared the Clipper ship was adrift.

However, when a tugboat went to retrieve the boat, they discovered there was a man on board and contacted the Coast Guard and police. SPD’s SWAT, patrol and Arson Bomb Squad responded to Elliott Bay along with Port of Seattle police and US Coast Guard boat and helicopter teams.

Police negotiators contacted the man on the ship and, eventually, a tactical team boarded the vessel and arrested the suspect. The man told police he had planned to take the boat to West Seattle.

The suspect will be booked into the King County Jail for yet-to-be-determined charges (piracy or grand theft vessel) and the boat will be towed back to port.

Closest photos we’ve seen are from KIRO TV, which called in its chopper.

1:39 PM: The president of the Victoria Clipper’s parent company told the Victoria Times-Colonist he was in his waterfront office when he saw the boat take off, unscheduled. Read the interview here.

7:10 PM: The man arrested by police has a long record, according to what we’re finding; today is his 33rd birthday. He is a registered sex offender named Samuel McDonough, address listed as Pike/Broadway (Capitol Hill); his most recent sexually motivated crime, records show, involved indecent exposure outside a coffee stand in Issaquah last year. We’re still checking publicly available records to look for any West Seattle links. His page (with photo) on the sex-offender registry is here.


  1. Weird.

    Comment by Mike — 10:13 am December 1, 2013 #

  2. Man this is nuts. I have friends at the Clipper and no one knows what’s going on. Coast Guard seems to think someone tried to *steal* the boat. Whaaaaaat.

    Comment by Ari G — 10:24 am December 1, 2013 #

  3. Over now. Guy in custody.

    Comment by WSB — 10:35 am December 1, 2013 #

  4. The boat broke down on Friday and it wasn’t going to be used today. He probably didn’t make it far because of the mechanical issues. Lol. Some of the shore employees thought it had gotten fixed and was leaving to get fueled up a little after 6 this morning, so they didn’t think anything of it.

    Comment by HKW — 10:41 am December 1, 2013 #

  5. Maybe he was just making his escape to Victoria as they advertise?

    Comment by Ian — 10:42 am December 1, 2013 #

  6. Holy crap, this guy could’ve placed a bomb in the boat, this could’ve turned out so bad. The person who called in a suspicious person is a hero in my book.

    Comment by alki Resident — 10:50 am December 1, 2013 #

  7. Seattle Times reports the suspect wanted to go to West Seattle. Do you suppose he thought he was on the Water Taxi?

    Comment by Craig — 11:07 am December 1, 2013 #

  8. KOMO reports that the suspect told officers that he wanted to go to West Seattle. Loooooooool.

    Comment by Ari G — 11:08 am December 1, 2013 #

  9. Kiro is saying he was trying to get to West Seattle. Wow I can think of several easier ways! What’s the plan… Tie it up at Saltys??!! Haha

    Comment by Alkidoc — 11:23 am December 1, 2013 #

  10. No more wackos making WS their destination of choice. We’re closed.

    Comment by SLS — 11:41 am December 1, 2013 #

  11. Probablly was sick of the traffic and lack of light rail to West Seattle.

    Comment by buckwheat — 11:48 am December 1, 2013 #

  12. He wanted to get to a West Seattle ?? Probably could of got here easier
    Via bike as we have good bike lanes

    Comment by Znicolina — 11:52 am December 1, 2013 #

  13. The WS angle, it turns out, is from the update on SPD Blotter. Will be added to our story momentarily – we were out for a bit covering Santa, orcas, the Farmers’ Market.

    Comment by WSB — 11:54 am December 1, 2013 #

  14. From the traffic map tracking he darn near made it to West Seattle before going adrift.

    Comment by jim — 1:06 pm December 1, 2013 #


    Comment by WTF — 1:16 pm December 1, 2013 #

  16. dude, I don’t blame him. getting to WS is a pain

    Comment by tina p — 1:29 pm December 1, 2013 #

  17. Yeah, Znicolina, I was thinking the same thing. Bikes are much more efficient and will get you there without all that hassle.

    Comment by Bill B. — 1:31 pm December 1, 2013 #

  18. @SLS: +1

    Comment by DarkHawke — 1:55 pm December 1, 2013 #

  19. Hmmmm, how do I get to West Seattle.. Clipper or water taxi.. ah heck, I’ll take the Clipper… Silly Rabbit.

    Comment by ~HockeyWitch~ — 2:40 pm December 1, 2013 #

  20. Someone on Seattle TImes Facebook page just asked if the guy was arrested for stealing the boat or “for wanting to go to West Seattle” … oh, snap!

    Comment by seaopgal — 2:50 pm December 1, 2013 #

  21. New XBox game idea — Grand Theft Ferry!

    But I want a commission on every copy sold.

    Comment by onion — 2:51 pm December 1, 2013 #

  22. HW … this came on the fourth of four days off for the Water Taxi, probably just a coincidence. But of all the boats to try to make off with…

    Comment by WSB — 2:56 pm December 1, 2013 #

  23. What in the heck was Skinny Pete thinking?

    Comment by s.s. — 3:14 pm December 1, 2013 #

  24. News has a photo of this guy, he looks a little bit like a pirate… How is someone able to steal an $8million boat? If he is that astute, I’d think he would try taking it really far. Like out to sea. … Lol. I don’t really buy the WS part of his story.

    So the Clipper owner said in an interview that he saw the engines start up and the boat leaving the dock – unscheduled. So this guy had to get it started somehow. But then the cops find him drifting? Maybe the boat malfunctioned and he made up the WS thing? Just curious, this story is really weird!

    Comment by Alkidoc — 3:18 pm December 1, 2013 #

  25. I dunno. If I were one to choose to partake in boat thievery, I think I would’ve chosen this one when it was in town earlier this year…..




    Comment by miws — 3:59 pm December 1, 2013 #

  26. He was afraid to take the C, but not afraid of stealing the boat. Besides, he already tried commuting over here but was frustrated with the traffic. He thinks West Seattle is an island too.

    Comment by Tonari — 5:00 pm December 1, 2013 #

  27. The Delridge Clipper: now THERE’s an idea!

    Comment by Joe — 5:52 pm December 1, 2013 #

  28. Added some new info about the suspect – his name and photo are published because he’s a registered sex offender, most recently for an indecent-exposure incident in Issaquah, and we’re checking the rest of his record for any West Seattle ties.

    Comment by WSB — 7:14 pm December 1, 2013 #

  29. As bad as it is that this guy was able to steal this vessel, the comments here are hilarious. I’d have to agree with miws, although I’m pretty sure that Rick Caruso who supposedly owns the Invictus has a much better security entourage than the Clipper.

    Comment by Mike — 7:19 pm December 1, 2013 #

  30. Another disgruntled CrapidRide patron.

    Comment by G — 7:23 pm December 1, 2013 #

  31. Seems someone left the keys in the ignition.

    The comment “Holy crap, this guy could’ve placed a bomb in the boat, this could’ve turned out so bad. The person who called in a suspicious person is a hero in my book.” is too funny.

    Yeah, and if he had a nuclear device he could have blown up the world. Seems a SWAT team and bomb squad was used because that’s what we own.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 8:26 pm December 1, 2013 #

  32. One thing is sure, there are a lot of comedians living in Seattle. The comments are a hoot. and…the “boat thief” has a lot more problems besides being a sex offender.

    Comment by Penny — 10:41 am December 2, 2013 #

  33. Cruising past West Seattle while exposing oneself as media broadcasts…. Dear Santa…

    Comment by Merry Mary — 12:00 pm December 2, 2013 #

  34. maybe the ferry operator should hire him ,he at least got the engines to run. better than their guy did

    Comment by Robert — 3:15 pm December 2, 2013 #

  35. They said it took a complicated clutching operation. So nobody noticed this guy trying to double clutch the ferry as he was sneaking away?

    Comment by steve — 7:11 am December 3, 2013 #

  36. It was 5 am on Sunday morning during a holiday weekend. The company CEO says he was in the office but I haven’t seen mention of whether anyone else was around. Schedule says they usually leave at 8 am this time of year.

    Comment by WSB — 7:17 am December 3, 2013 #

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