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Valley Mega-Yacht: Casino Royale

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Valley man who amassed a fortune in the video surveillance industry is now living the life of luxury on the high seas.

In 2007 Pelco sold for one-and-half billion dollars to Schneider Electric. David McDonald took his share and retired two years later.

Thousands packed Stockton's downtown marina for the annual Asparagus Festival. Amid all the food and fun, visitors couldn't miss the 163-foot mega-yacht docked across the way.

David McDonald's Casino Royale towers 50-feet above the water line. The ship's Casino Royale theme, inspired by James Bond. McDonald bought the yacht three years ago.

"It took my breath away," McDonald said. "It was just so detailed and finely done in all the spots you wouldn't think of."

Two turbo-charged diesel engines run the ship. The polished stainless steel and chrome are almost blinding.

"It's pretty shiny. I think they did this so I'd think I had a staff because there's mirrors everywhere," Axel Koch said. "I look over and I think there's people in the engine room with me."

While the boat can sleep a dozen guests, McDonald prefers the breezy outdoors. "I like this spot. This always has this nice panoramic view and this big table seats twelve."

McDonald's full-time crew of ten includes a chef. Purser Stephanie Cook walked us through the floating luxury home which features mahogany woodwork and marble floors. The roulette wheel inlay is a nice Casino Royale touch. So are the bond girl images which guide you through the seven-thousand square foot interior.

McDonald's Captain Curtis Cook has charted courses for Italy and the Caribbean. "She's been in all of the popular cruising spots in the whole world."

McDonald especially loves the Bahamas. He bought a home there four years ago. "It's a very private area. The sand is pure white, like sugar almost."

McDonald can always fly to the Bahamas on his Gulfstream 550. But his yacht is docked in Stockton for a reason. "Enjoy the yacht in a different way. Instead of flying for hours and hours to get there. It's just a two-hour drive."

At the port, Fresno State grad Mike Berry remembered the commotion caused by the yacht's arrival. "There was probably 100-150 people in the area doing the same thing, just gawking at the wonder of it all."

Mike Wolfe said, "Such opulence in a humble Stockton port town. Heheheh."

No expense was spared. You can raise the blinds, raise the artwork and select from over four-thousand movies.

Remember "Wilson" from Tom Hanks' "Castaway?" that's the actual ball.

David McDonald never dreamed this life of luxury awaited him when he started Pelco in 1987. "You know, I didn't have this kind of vision Dale. The vision was to build a well-managed company with extremely high values."

Casino Royale allows McDonald's family, his companion Chelsea Milirides and their dogs Hunny and Rocky to ship out in style. "It's very comfortable. It is a wonderful way to see the world."

And once you put away the Vespa scooter, you can take the elevator up to the sun deck and sit at the bar or of course, in the hot tub.

David McDonald played his cards right.

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