Boat captain arrested for assault, driving drunk

Casey Grove

A fishing captain was arrested in Kodiak after he drove his boat drunk and attacked his crewmen, who abandoned ship, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Nevada resident Michael A. Clemens, captain of the Oceana Kaylani, was "highly intoxicated" Monday night while piloting the 48-foot salmon seiner in the waters off of Cape Chiniak, troopers said in a written statement. Clemens, 56, also assaulted two 22-year-old Pennsylvania men, part of the three-man crew, living and working on the boat, troopers said.

"Clemens was 'beyond drunk,' loud and sloppy," one of the men told a trooper, according to a charging document in the case.

The skipper had been drinking whiskey through the afternoon and evening and was too drunk to deploy a skiff -- a smaller boat used in commercial seining -- so the crewmen confronted him about it, the charges say. The captain had also been dropping equipment overboard and nearly fell in too, one of the men told a trooper. The crew decided to drop anchor, the charges say.

That's when Clemens started yelling at the crew, one of the men said. He tried to push the two men off the boat, the charges say.

"I was backed up against the railing; he could have easily pushed me over," one of them told the trooper.

The three crewmen got in the skiff and drove to Kodiak, about 14 miles away, where one of them called troopers about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. Clemens had apparently piloted the Oceana Kaylani to Kodiak by then. Trooper Brian Mitchell interviewed the men, who were concerned about getting their belongings off the boat, the charges say.

"Clemens threatened if they came to the boat they might be shot," the charges say.

The trooper went to the harbor downtown to talk to Clemens, who was alone on the boat with the engine running, the charges say.

"They took the skiff and left and I don't know why," Clemens said, according to the charges. "My last beer was around 7 p.m. yesterday. There was no argument or physical confrontation with the crew."

Another trooper found an open, half-filled bottle of whiskey in the boat's wheelhouse, and Clemens failed field-sobriety tests, according to the charges.

Troopers arrested him and charged him with assault and operating the boat under the influence.

Clemens made his first appearance in court Wednesday, according to court records.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.