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One more reason to never own a sailboat!

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Old 09-24-2002, 10:06 PM
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Default One more reason to never own a sailboat!

Saved after 3 months adrift

Navy frigate finds Long Beach man, 62, in good shape

By James W. Crawley
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

September 24, 2002

Adrift in his damaged sailboat for 3 months, a Long Beach man was found
alive by a San Diego-based warship off the coast of Costa Rica more than
2,500 miles from his home port.

Richard Van Pham, 62, was rescued a week ago by the frigate McClusky and
turned over to U.S. officials in Guatemala on Sunday, Navy officials said
yesterday.

He survived by catching fish, seabirds and turtles for food and collecting
rainwater, said Navy crewmen who found him Sept. 17. Despite losing about 40
pounds and being heavily suntanned, Van Pham was in good condition when
found, they reported.

"He's a tough old bird," said Cmdr. Gary Parriott, the McClusky's skipper, in
a satellite phone interview yesterday. "I'm not sure I would have fared as
well as he did."

Van Pham was dropped off in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, on Sunday when the
frigate stopped for a port visit. Efforts to locate him in Guatemala City
were unsuccessful last night.

The McClusky's crew collected about $800 to pay the hapless mariner's air
fare home.

The incredible story of bad luck and survival began as a short cruise from
Long Beach to Catalina in Van Pham's 26-foot sailboat Sea Breeze. A storm
broke his mast. His outboard motor and two-way radio also failed.

For unknown reasons, Van Pham was not reported missing by friends, and he
told officials he has no family. No search was conducted because no missing
persons report was filed, Coast Guard officials said.

Van Pham was spotted 275 miles southwest of Costa Rica when a U.S. Customs
Service P-3 drug-hunting plane saw his derelict vessel and asked the McClusky
to check it out.

When the warship's boat neared, they saw a man cooking a sea gull on a
makeshift grill the ship's wooden trim supplying the fuel. A jury-rigged
sail flapped from a splintered mast.

Hailing the boat in Spanish, Petty Officer 3rd Class Elias Nunez said he was
surprised when Van Pham answered, "I don't speak Spanish. I speak English."

Van Pham was equally surprised when the sailors told him what month and day
it was and where he was, Nunez said.

The ship's corpsman, Petty Officer 1st Class A.J. Davis said Van Pham was in
exceptional health.

Davis spent hours talking to Van Pham, who described bashing sea turtles with
a bat as they swam near the boat, hauling the carcasses aboard and then
cooking part of the meat while using the remainder as bait for seabirds that
would roost on the broken mast.

"This is an amazing story of survival," Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer
Lance Jones said yesterday. "But it also shows the importance of filing a
float plan with friends or family."

If the Coast Guard had known he was missing, a search might have found him
much earlier, said Jones.

The most poignant moment came when Van Pham left the Sea Breeze.

"He waved goodbye to his sailboat," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph
Slaight. "He was upset (that it would be scuttled) and said he was going to
miss it."

Unable to fix the sailboat, Van Pham approved its sinking. Crew members
torched the Sea Breeze, sinking it in 8,700 feet of water.

"We did it while he was below decks to lessen the blow," Parriott said.
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:16 PM
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He is gonna be in deep sh*t when he gets back for clubbing sea turtles
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:20 PM
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insptech no doubt
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:26 PM
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To give you an Idea of how far Long Beach is to Catalina: 26 Miles. I bet thats the longest 26 miles he ever sailed.
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:32 PM
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I bet his next boat will have either twins or even triples...
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Old 09-24-2002, 10:38 PM
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Just when TooOld is looking for the next project they go ahead and scuttle the boat because of the broken mast Who needs a mast anyway...just add big power!
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Old 09-24-2002, 11:11 PM
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Look Jeff, He left his bumpers out too!!
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Old 09-24-2002, 11:31 PM
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You know, the way this gang is, you know damn well that if one of us was stranded out there for months when they found us the boat would be spotless Probably also have 2 or 3 parts off in order to get started on mods back on shore. We'd have been hunting stuff just for the fun of it and made a home made still out of stuff from the spare parts box
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Old 09-25-2002, 12:15 AM
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Sounds familiar A 3 Hour Tour Gone Bad !
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Old 09-25-2002, 08:13 AM
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Wow! Good for Van Pham! That's gotta be tough!

...Now where's that PETA phone number? jk
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