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Jan 03

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The Voyages of Schooner Third Sea is a book you must read if you want to learn about the South Seas.


Below. Third Sea under construction


It’s a book, 390 pages and 131 photographs, packed with adventure, exploring forgotten islands in the South Seas, sailing up wild rivers of the East, searching for battle sites of World War II, diving on sunken wrecks, fighting off pirates, and more. It’s the story of one man, Harold Stephens, who had the dream of doing all these things, and did then. He built his own boat, but not any boat—a schooner. He did it with little money but with a dream he made come true. Now you can read how he got his schooner and for twenty years searched for the rainbow’s end.

Below. Schooner Third Sea in Tongareva, Cook Islands.


But this is not a book about one man’s achievements; it’s about adventure and…

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Dec 13

“The Education of a Travel Writer” is a book for anyone who is interested in writing, especially travel writing. It is not a textbook.


The author tells readers how he did it, and sets an example to follow. Stephens has written more than thirty books, travel, adventure, biographies and novels and over four thousand magazine and newspaper stories, TV and video scripts, movie documentaries, and in the beginning he was told to give it up.


Left. My first book came from travel articles printed in newspapers.

Editors said he’d never make it as a writer, as did most everyone else. His approach is not the orthodox method taught in schools nor learned from how-to books. Stephens adheres to Ayn Rand’s philosophy: The process of writing cannot be taught, not because it is mystical but rather because the process is so complex that a teacher cannot supervise the process for you.

My second…

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Dec 10

When Wolfenden Books published my book Take China, the Last of the China Maries, I was hoping some


of the characters I wrote about would surface. I remember James Michener saying to me when I met with him in Bangkok that when a writer writes about people, he can never cast them aside. They are there forever.

There was Little Lew, a little Chinese boy of eight that my outfit adopted.


Would I hear one day that he was alive and well. But I heard to the contrary,  that he was stoned to death by other kids when the Marines withdrew from China. And there was my Chinese friend Roger. In Tsingtao we were the best of friends. Then one day I stopped, unannounced, to visit him and saw a Communist Naval uniform, with the red star on the collar, hanging in his closet. I never heard from him again, more…

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Dec 07

On this date, December 7, the Japanese bombed America. I was thirteen year old, living with my parents on a farm in Pennsylvania. The below abstract is from my book, soon to be published, Andreas Stepanavich: The Biography of the Forgotten Generation.

December arrived and cold weather was setting in. There couldn’t be many more Sunday mornings with good weather, so on this morning everyone gathered at the farm since it might well be the last one before a long winter ahead. They all came, as usual, uncles and aunts and cousins, Buddy Hardy on his crutches, and for the occasion Pete, my father, opened a new barrel of wine. Uncle Andy came all the way for


Pittsburgh. Mary, my mother, was in the kitchen preparing coffee when she heard over the radio a news flash that didn’t quite make sense. The radio announcer said to please wait as he had…

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Dec 06

Jim Mathews––I called him Jim Ladd–was one man who gave up everything to help me build my Schooner Third Sea in Singapore. It was a ferro-cement construction, plastered by profession people. I went on to sail the schooner some 200,000 miles in the South Pacific and Asian waters. I lost it in a hurricane that ripped thorough the Hawaiian Islands and took some 200 yachts with her. Jim Ladd recently wrote to tell me it was 44 years ago that we met in Bill Bailey’s in Singapore.


Left. Stephens sitting on the stern

We must have been mad, Captain Steve, to attempt a job with a magnitude we didn’t realize. You with me you assistant. And you as the driving forces. We had people on weekends to help but during the week we had no one, except Madame Bebee, the Indian watch women with half dozen kids running around naked and getting…

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Jul 30

Georgetown on Penang is a sleepy town where nothing, it seems, never happens, except maybe for festivals. Thus, when I asked a trishaw diver to take me around the old city, I had the surprise of my life.


I guess what I always liked mostly about Penang was the little back alleys that were a reminder of Singapore fifty years ago. I enjoyed wandering through the streets, and I found I was usually pretty much alone. Visitors to Penang avoided the streets. But that had changed. The back alleys of Penang have become a major tourist attraction for something that is very hard to believe.


It took my trishaw driver to opened up a whole new venue to Penang, and I must say, a very pleasant one.

What happened?

The attraction is the results of one young man’s efforts, an artist from Europe, a Lithuaniant, Ernest Zacharevic. He has been transforming…

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Mar 29

The search is on for Malaysian Airlines Flight No. 340, which went down where no one knows. More than a dozen countries all  looking for fame and glory, with all the press coverage the way it’s going, are on the search for the missing aircraft in an area the size of California. Authorities believe it went down in the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles form its intended course from Kuaka Lumpur to Beijing with 240 people aboard.


Satellite images have been unable to detect any floating less than the size of a refrigerator. They are missing it all.

Right. Schooner Third Sea in the South Pacific was waiting and ready.

Let me tell you about debris floating in the Pacific. I was sailing my schooner in the Pacific, seven days out of Port Vila bound for Pago Pago in American Samoa. I was below deck when suddenly came a call—“All hands on…

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Jan 22

Yes, there was an astronaut who landed in Paris instead of on the moon. How did that happen? That is the theme of my book The Tower and the River.


I recently asked a writer, Allen Wittenborn, who had read my book,  The Tower and the River, what were his thoughts about the book. I asked that he be honest. He took the time to write a critical analysis. Here is what he sent to me:

“I am back in San Diego and have had time to finish reading The Tower and the River, which I found a surprisingly good read. I say ’surprisingly’ because I have always thought of you strictly as having an Asian focus. So when I read the book and found out how familiar you must be with France, or at least Paris, I was surprised to say the least. Can’t help but think that there is a…

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Nov 25

His majesty the King of Thailand was born on December 5, 1927. That was 86 yeas ago.

Right. The King, center, with his mother, brother and sister.



Left. The King takes the throne.

When we look back to the year 1927, when world population was two billion (compared to six today) we might figure the world was quite primitive, for the lack of a better word. The airplane then was only twenty years old, and the biggest news event of that year was when Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Right. The young 23-year old Charles Lindberg flew solo from New York to Paris.


It was an incredible accomplishment when we consider the first transatlantic telephone call was made from New York City to London only the month before.

There were not even talkie movies then. That didn’t happen until later in the year when Al Jolson appeared in “The…

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Oct 18

She went by the name Susie, but when I wrote about her for an American magazine, I called her “Susie No Pants,” something I regretted later when I met up with her. I thought she’d kill me.

“You sumna beech,” she sang out when she saw me sitting in Vim’s street café in Papeete––that was after the story came out—“Why you call me Susie No Pants?” She was standing up straight and tall, and then she lifted her flowered muumuu up high and shouted, “See, me have pants.” She next called to the waiter to bring her a whiskey. Susie never drank whiskey, only Hinano beer, but whiskey cost more money. She didn’t stop there. She called for everyone sitting around to have a whiskey too.

That was Susie, irrevocable Susie, fun-loving, jolly Susie, the happiest smiling face in Quinn’s Tahitian Hut in Papeete.

Right. Susie giving me a big smile in Quinn’s,…

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