Two tots rescued after slow-speed chase of allegedly stolen yacht

Christopher Maffei (left) is accused of abducting 3-year-old Brooklynn Maffei (center) and 2-year-old Devin Maffei and taking them on a yacht on September 5, 2012.
South San Francisco Police/KPIX

(CBS/AP) MONTEREY, Calif. — A man accused of abducting his two children and stealing a sailboat was arrested after a slow-speed chase along the Central California coast, and the youngsters were rescued, authorities said.

The Coast Guard, FBI and South San Francisco police had been tracking the 40-foot yacht Unleashed, which was sailed from a harbor in Alameda on Tuesday. Police said earlier that day that Christopher Maffei had removed his 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son from their mother's home while she was out.

Complete coverage of the rescue by CBS station KPIX in San Francisco

The children's rescue came hours after the Coast Guard spent most of Friday following the boat as it slowly sailed down the coastline. Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz said a Coast Guard airplane followed the boat south to Monterey Bay, where the rescue occurred.

Authorities say Unleashed was running low on fuel when they approached it.

"A Coast Guard cutter approached the vessel and just started talking to them," Coast Guard spokesman Thomas McKenzie said. "He put his hands up and surrendered without incident."

Maffei's daughter, Brooklynn, and son, Devin, were examined by medics before a reunion with their mother, McKenzie said.

Maffei is the former boyfriend of the children's mother, Jennifer Hipon. She told reporters that she was at a courthouse filing custody documents on Tuesday when Maffei went to her house and took the children from her elderly mother.

South San Francisco police say that, after running off with the children, Maffei drove to the harbor in Alameda and left on the 40-foot sailboat. He sailed the boat out the Golden Gate, and headed down the coast, police said.

A fisherman spotted the sailboat off the San Mateo County coast on Friday, and law enforcement started a slow-speed chase as they tried to intercept the vessel, police said.

McKenzie said the stolen boat was recovered and would be returned to its owner.