Photo of the Day

September 25 - Fiji

Today's Photo of the Day is of a tropical sunrise somewhere in Fiji. If you've never lived in the tropics, you don't know what spectacularly colorful cloud formations there can be. Unfortunately, we have no idea who took this shot.

Forget the Survivor TV Show, this Was the Real Thing

September 25 - Off Costa Rica

By now, almost everyone has heard the almost unbelievable tale of 62-year-old Richard Van Pham, who in June set sail from Long Beach on a 25-mile pleasure trip to Catalina aboard his 26-ft sloop Sea Breeze - which actually looks a lot like a Columbia 24. The little boat was dismasted and the radio crapped out on the way to Catalina. It's hard to believe the boat wasn't seen in those heavily traveled waters or that Van Pham - a Vietnamese immigrant - wasn't reported missing by friends. Nonetheless, for the next 3.5 months and 2,500 miles, the man and his boat helplessly drifted. He survived by collecting rainwater and eating fish, turtles, and seabirds. He was finally sighted by a P3 Orion drug interdiction plane well offshore of Costa Rica and picked up by the U.S. Navy frigate McClusky. Although he'd lost 40 pounds, Van Pham was declared to be in excellent health. A sea cruise will do that for you.

Kenneth Kahn II, an attorney who practices in Portland, wrote us to say, "Van Pham is a hero to all of us who have ever sailed offshore in bad conditions and made it home. Is there a way that Latitude could assist by setting up a trust fund to buy this fellow a new boat?"

Our first question would be whether Van Pham would like a replacement boat. If he does, we're sure his old one - which the McClusky crew scuttled, much to Van Pham's dismay - could be replaced for well under $10,000. If we hear that he wants a replacement boat and a fund is set up, we'll be sure to let everyone know. Furthermore, we promise to buy him a functioning radio, for as much as this is a story of heroic survival, it's also about less than stellar seamanship, for Van Pham never should have ended up in that much trouble.

(above) Crewmembers help 62-year-old Richard Van Pham board the U.S. Navy frigate USS McClusky after rescuing Van Pham from his battered and broken sailboat (below).

Van Pham aboard the USS McClusky

Photos Courtesy U.S. Navy

Cruiser Victim of Stabbing in San Diego Sets Record Straight

September 25 - San Diego

Chuck and Linda Allen of the St. Augustine, Florida, Ingrid 38 Tumbleweed signed up for late October's Baja Ha-Ha, and in preparation made their way to San Diego. While their boat was berthed at the San Diego Police Docks, he was stabbed by a complete stranger. Here's his report:

"I was knifed in the back while entering the portable heads at the Police Docks at 6:30 a.m. on September 8. A young man ran up to me and asked if I had a cell phone to call the police. I said no, but pointed to the Police Station. The young man was being pursued by an older man in his 50's who was holding a knife. As the young man ran to the station, I turned to go into the head. As I opened the door, I was stabbed in the back.

"Later, the young man reported that this man had came up to him when he had a couple young girls with him on their way to church. The young man ordered the girls to get in the car and stay there. The older man declared he was with the Marines and he and his buddies were there to 'take him out'. He chased this guy around the Japanese Bell at the end of Shelter Island, screaming at him. It was at this point, unfortunately, that I walked up the dock.

"We still plan to do the Ha-Ha."

Allen was in a hurry to write this, so we didn't get all the details. Secondhand sources tell us that Allen spent some time in the hospital after exploratory surgery, and that the assailant, believed to be an anchor-out from down near National City, has a history of mental issues.

Van Liew Is the Man!

September 25 - San Diego

As the Around Around Fleet closes in on England, former Santa Monica resident Brad Van Liew continues his dominance over Class B. With less than 1,000 miles to the finish, he holds an incredible lead of more than 500 miles over the second place boat. Van Liew - who is a wonderful person and who is being sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger - could be on the verge of making a big name for himself.

Brad Van Liew
Photo Courtesy

In Class A, Frenchman Thierry Dubois covered 400.7 miles in 24 hours - wow! - with Solidaires in an attempt to reel in Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group-Armor Lux. With Stamm 300 miles from the finish, Dubois is 62 miles back.

For details, check out

Who Saw the Catamaran Hakuna Matata from July 5 to July 8?

September 25 - French Polynesia

We're sure everyone is familiar with the case of former NBA player Bison Dele, who is missing from his 55-ft catamaran Hakuna Matata in French Polynesia, along with girlfriend Serena Kaplan, and French captain Bertrand Saldo. It's believed that Kevin Williams, Dele's older brother, killed the three on the boat. That's the story that Williams told his Santa Rosa girlfriend. Before Williams could be apprehended, he overdosed on drugs and went into a coma. He's only been kept alive by machines, and they are about to be unplugged, so the complete story will probably never be known.

Moorea, French Polynesia
Photo Sheri Seybold

R. Scott Ohlgren, Kaplan's stepfather, writes, "We now need to move to the next phase, and that is finding the three bodies. There will be no rest for us until we either actually find some remains, or learn for certain exactly where they were dropped into the ocean. I'm asking Latitude to please help us by getting the word out about two things:

"1) The crimes took place between July 5 and July 8, somewhere very close to Tahiti. We are looking for mariners who were in the area at that time, and saw the Hakuna Matata. The profile of the 55-ft cat is unusual, so someone must have seen them.

"2) We have also been getting some seemingly farfetched explanations of Serena's whereabouts, but can't sleep until we check them out. We have heard two bizarre stories that Serena may have been taken onto a second boat, and that she was dropped off at Howland Island. From my layman's guess, Howland Island is about 900 miles away from Tahiti. You may be familiar with it - it's the tiny 1.6 sq. kilometer sand dune that Amelia Earhart was trying to reach back in '37. I want to get a message out to any mariners traveling in that direction. I would pay someone a $300 reward to stop at Howland and take an hour walk around the island to search for any remains. This is probably a bizarre request, but as I've learned over the past month, life is stranger than any fiction.

"Many thanks from myself and my wife."

Scott can be reached at: 7440 North 49th Street, Longmont, CO 80503-8847. Office: (303) 530-2332; FAX: (303) 527-0270. If you're in French Polynesia, please pass this request around.


September 25 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at

Weather Updates

September 25 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.:

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see

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