Sausalito, CA. In the pre-dawn rain on January 22nd, a silent figure crept aboard a 107’ luxury converted tugboat for sale in a prime berth in downtown Sausalito, CA. He loosened the 10 heavy hawsers tying the boat to the dock and set the boat adrift, snapping electric and water lines. That’s when Joe Flower – a futurist who didn’t see it coming – could have watched his offices float out into the Pacific Ocean.

It is still unknown exactly why the culprit did it.

Others on the dock soon noticed that tugboat Owatonna, a local icon, was missing. A neighboring yacht owner, Peter Le Lièvre, jumped into his skiff to prevent the ebbing tide from carrying the tug under the Golden Gate Bridge and out into the ocean. He found Owatonna drifting out of control toward the shipping lanes where he scaled the 9-foot hull barefoot, and boarded her, looking for a way to secure the vessel.

One problem was the suspect was still inside. He’d broken the pilothouse window and let himself in.

“That’s when Peter called me,” said Joe Flower. He and his wife Jennifer Flower, the tug’s owners, were out of the country at the time. While trying to deploy a 100-lb skiff anchor lying onboard, Mr. Le Lièvre also called a tugboat company and Vessel Assist, looking for help. Fortunately, three Coast Guard vessels soon converged at the scene. They, Vessel Assist, and Jim Madden, a Sausalito Yacht Harbor master, together took on the awesome task of restoring the 350-ton Owatonna safely to her berth.

And then Mr. Le Lièvre paid Vessel Assist.

“This is exactly the kind of thing Peter Le Lièvre does,” said Mr. Flower. “He just takes action. He’s a brave and generous guy. And we were worried about him, we didn’t know what kind of pirate we were dealing with.”

The would-be pirate was fished out of the water, apparently attempting to escape.

“It took a lot of work to free all those hawsers holding her at the dock, the thief must have been determined.” said Mr. Flower. “Yes, this tugboat has a lot of loyal and passionate fans.” said Mrs. Flower, “and it’s certainly an amazing place to be in the Bay Area. Who doesn’t love a bright red tugboat? But it never occurred to us that someone would try to steal the boat. We suspect the fellow was not thinking clearly.”

Tugboat Owatonna has been for sale through Rick Peterson at Oceanic Yachts: 415-599-5506. A finder’s fee is available for a buyer.

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