Christopher Maffei, 43, appeared in court today, but did not enter a plea to felony charges of kidnapping his two young children and stealing a yacht.
Maffei -- who has been charged with eight felony counts of kidnapping, burglary, and child endangerment -- claimed that he snatched his children to protect them from an abusive household, according to media outlets.
He was arrested around 8 p.m. Friday evening off the shore of the Monterey Peninsula while aboard the stolen yacht. The youngsters were reunited with their mother, Jennifer Hipon, after the suspect was taken to custody.
Police believe that Maffei snatched his children, ages 2 and 3, on the afternoon of Sept. 4, from their South San Francisco home where they live with Hipon, Maffei's estranged ex-girlfriend. At the time, Hipon was at the San Mateo County courthouse trying to get a restraining order against Maffei, who drove his kids in a rental car to Alameda and hopped onto a yacht that reportedly didn't belong to him.
The abducted vessel was spotted on the morning of Sept. 7 off the coast of Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo County. Another skipper saw it, recognized the boat's description, and notified the U.S. Coast Guard, which had been looking for the children. The Coast Guard, police, and the FBI dispatched boats to intercept the yacht and get the youngsters.
The day before, on Sept. 6, Hipon obtained a temporary restraining order against Maffei, and the court scheduled a hearing on the order for Sept. 21.
Maffei is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail at San Mateo County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 17.