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MESA/IRVINE: NEWPORT BEACH

Vessel Leaves Mexico; Ailing Skipper Stays in Custody

September 05, 1998|DAVID REYES

Though skipper Scott McClung remained hospitalized in Mexico, authorities there released his boat, Rapture, which left the resort of Cozumel on Friday with a new captain for the 13-day journey home.

Dan West was hired to sail the 145-foot vessel from Cozumel through the Panama Canal and then to Newport Beach for a stop before being berthed at Long Beach, said Troy Meier, a spokesman for McClung.

Aboard the ship was McClung's mother, Mozelle McClung, and Noah Bailey, the Rapture's first mate, who was arrested aboard the vessel when it docked in Cozumel on Aug. 10 for emergency repairs. Bailey was later released.

McClung, 36, of Newport Beach was ordered held without bail pending a trial on charges of transporting weapons clandestinely into Mexico aboard the boat.

A judge on Friday indefinitely postponed a hearing on where McClung was to await his trial. He could have been ordered to prison but instead will remain in a private clinic on the resort island.

Eugene McClung, 71, who was arrested with his son but was later freed, will remain in Cozumel, Meier said.

The trip began when Eugene McClung decided to turn a business trip into a vacation for family members. He had ordered construction of an $8-million yacht for his charter business, and he took his family and some crew members to Florida to pick up the vessel and sail it to Newport Beach.

McClung's attorneys said they were confident that McClung would receive fair judicial treatment.

"This case is reaching the attention of people in Mexico that share our desire that justice be achieved," Bill Bollard, one lawyer, said.

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