Resources tycoon Paul McDonald is attracting all the wrong sort of attention after being fined by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police following a booze-laden wild yacht party through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic.
McDonald was leading his 34 metre luxury yacht with seven staterooms, known as the Fortrus, through the Northwest Passage as part of a circumnavigation of North America.
While anchored in Cambridge Bay, an indigenous Nunavut community of 1,500, the yacht hosted “a wild party where men overwhelmingly outnumbered women” and in which an underage girl was seen diving overboard into the frigid waters of the Beaufort Sea, according to the Nunatsiaq News.
An alcohol-fuelled yacht party is easily noticed in Cambridge Bay, where alcohol is only allowed under special permit from Nunavut authorities.
It did not help that passengers were reportedly firing illegal fireworks from the Fortrus’ decks.
On September 7, the RCMP boarded the vessel and immediately seized 200 bottles of alcohol with an estimated “street value” of $40,000. Mounties also seized $15,000 worth of illegal fireworks.
The Mounties appear to have been acting on a tip-off from the community, as a press release issued following the seizure thanked the public for its continued support “in combatting illegal activities in the North.”
McDonald was charged with providing liquor to a minor and possessing liquor “other than when authorised”. Each charge carries a fine of $5,000.
However, a $10,000 cheque McDonald left with the Cambridge Bay authorities bounced, according to Nunatsiaq News and on September 20 the Fortrus successfully entered the Pacific Ocean, via the Bering Strait, and is now headed for the Panama Canal.
The luxury yacht’s journey has been helpfully documented by its own website Tracking Fortrus although the update makes no mention of the party, raid and seizure.
“Due to some weather, we decided to stay in Cambridge Bay for a few extra days,” reads a September 10 post: “We all had a very memorable time”.
The 51-year-old resources tycoon from Noosa, Queensland would have had no problem funding the party or the $10,000 cheque after reportedly pocketing $81.5 million for the sale of his Sunshine Coast Quarries business, comprising a large quarry at Moy Pocket, a smaller quarry at Wondai and a concrete plant at Gympie to Boral.
Originally from Ballarat, Victoria, McDonald also has holdings in Evolve Polymer Products USA, Fortrus Quarries, Integra Concrete, MCG Group of Companies, Fortrus Sports, Fortrus Fisheries, Integra Resources, Visser Holdings and ML Property.
This doesn’t appear to be the first boating mishap for McDonald.
In 2006, a man with the same name — Paul McDonald — also from Noosa, turned up in the news after hosting a Boxing Day gathering on his 11-metre yacht when the vessel was suddenly shaken by an onboard explosion.
The blast blew his 12-year-old son more than 30 metres overboard and severely burned his sister-in-law.
His interests extend to both sea and land, with McDonald’s most recent acquisition a $180,000 bull known as Prince.
Queensland Country Life reports that at last week’s Glenlands Droughtmaster sale near Rockhampton “was full of fairytale endings” thanks to the “extraordinary” $180,000 paid for Glenlands Prince, this year’s beef Interbreed champion bull and, now, the world’s most expensive Droughtmaster sire.
SmartCompany contacted McDonald’s Fortrus company to get an update on his whereabouts but the company failed to reply before publication.