Rimas and Jean

Rimas Meleshyus, Astoria’s ever-wayward aspiring around-the-world sailor/Kon Tiki drifter, has returned to the U.S. at last. Last summer, after being missing for more than two months, he was rescued at sea, starving, by some Vietnamese fishermen.

Rimas’ sailboat was not salvageable, so the fishermen took him aboard and and took turns nursing him while they finished fishing. Eventually they returned to Danang, where Rimas was greeted by cheering locals, and lots of publicity.

But by then, he was out of money. Good fortune once again smiled on Rimas, and he was taken in by the Danang Social Support Center, which is essentially a homeless shelter. They treated him well, even catering to his vegetarian diet, but he wanted to come home. And even more so, to sail again. Getting here was another issue: Rimas had not renewed his visa. He was stuck in Vietnam.

It looked like the end of Rimas’ sea travels, but once again, fate intervened. His longtime good friend, boat donor and self-professed ongoing “enabler,” Jean Mondeau (who also gives sailboats away for free to other “worthy adventurers”) somehow untangled all the international red tape, and brought Rimas home with him to San Francisco. Rimas (left) and Jean are pictured.

Have years’ worth of misadventures, near-death experiences and wrecked boats dimmed Rimas’ quest to “sail” (drift, more likely) around the world solo? Not at all. “Looking forward to sailing around the world in the future, once I get another boat,” he posted recently on Facebook.

And, to foster that effort, yes, Jean will give Rimas yet another boat, and has set up a fundraiser to help Rimas finally fulfill his dream at bit.ly/rimassail. “ ... After some training and medical issue fixes,” Jean wrote, “he will get one more sailing adventure, with the proper training, and documents and stuff he needs to finally do it on his own. So his trip is dependent on what you give him here.”

“Who is on board with this world traveler?” he asks. “Do I stand alone again, or will his thousands of followers give him what you would spend on a burger? The true test starts here.”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Daily Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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