Share story

A self-proclaimed “pirate” who took a Victoria Clipper vessel on a perilous joy ride into Elliott Bay last month pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree burglary and theft of a motor vehicle, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

On Dec. 1, Samuel K. McDonough, of Preston, climbed through a small hole in a security fence at Seattle’s Pier 69, where the Clipper docks its vessels, partially untied one of the boats and managed to start the 132-foot Clipper IV.

Darrell Bryan, CEO of Victoria Clipper, called for help when he saw that the vessel was missing from its slot and appeared to be headed toward Harbor Island.

McDonough was arrested without incident about seven hours later when a Seattle police SWAT team was sent in after discussions between McDonough and a hostage negotiator faltered, according to police.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

In the document of probable cause, police say McDonough told them he took the ferry because he wanted to go to Victoria, B.C.

“When contacted by police SWAT-team officers while adrift in Elliot (sic) Bay, Mr. McDonough proclaimed himself a pirate, and said he had intended to flee the country to Victoria, B.C.,” wrote Deputy Prosecutor Ian Ith.

Police and prosecutors also said that McDonough did not know how to control the $8 million, 478 gross-ton vessel or operate its lights. Prosecutors said the Clipper IV nearly collided with a Washington State Ferries vessel during the joy ride.

McDonough was under supervision by the state Department of Corrections (DOC) and was supposed to be wearing a GPS anklet. McDonough has convictions for indecent exposure in King County in 2005, 2008 and 2012.

The most recent conviction, a felony, came after he masturbated in front of two Issaquah coffee-stand baristas, according to court documents. He was released from prison in May.

McDonough, 33, faces a sentence range of 22 to 29 months in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 24. Prosecutors plan to seek a high-end sentence.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed

to this report.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.