Christopher Maffei was booked on two counts of kidnapping, two counts of child endangerment and two counts of parental abduction after his arrest Friday, South San Francisco police Sgt. Bruce McPhillips said.
Maffei, 43, forcibly took his 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son from the their maternal grandmother, Jean Hipon, while the children's mother, Jennifer Hipon, was in a Redwood City court on Tuesday seeking a restraining order against him, McPhillips said. Maffei is the former boyfriend of Jennifer Hipon.
"The mother was at the courthouse filing a restraining order at the time he took the children and the maternal grandmother attempted to stop him," McPhillips said.
The FBI was notified once it was determined that Maffei had crossed county lines and stolen a boat in Alameda County, then the U.S. Coast Guard was called in once he sailed the boat to the coast, McPhillips said.
The Coast Guard and FBI began tracking the 40-foot sailboat Unleashed, which was sailed from a harbor in Alameda on Tuesday.
The children's rescue south of Monterey Bay around 8 p.m. Friday came hours after the Coast Guard had dispatched a HC-130 Hercules plane, a helicopter and two cutters to follow the boat as it slowly sailed down the coastline, Coast Guard officials said.
"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.
Jennifer Hipon told television reporters that she was "blown away" that her estranged boyfriend took the children.
"It's surreal that he actually did this," she said.
South San Francisco police say that after running off with the children, Maffei drove to the harbor in Alameda and left on the 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 has been recovered and its owner would be responsible for getting it back to Alameda.