Thursday, July 31, 2008

Latest Position 0400 UTC August 1, 2008: 7.54N, 173.31E

Slow night last night. The wind has died down some and the boat speed with it. Woke up to a giant squall on the radar that brought a good 20 knots of wind and buckets full of rain. The trouble is that the squall seems to steal the wind so what little wind I had gets sucked into the squall and leaves me wallowing (and wet)! I've made a list of things to do before I reach Majuro mainly cleaning up and stowing things so she is more liveable. Because of my lower speed, my arrival during daylight is at risk. According to my calculations, I need to make 5.6 knots over the next 31 hours to make into Majuro by 7:00pm (Majuro time). It would be pretty bad to arrive just after sunset and not be able to go util morning. And to think a few days ago we were talking about me slowing down some so I could arrive after Dad!
Had a bit of a scare today. Last night during the net, suddenly Moana went off the air. This morning they weren't on the air either at our scheduled time. I was begining to worry. Dad called them on their sat phone and all is well except for the radio. Still not sure what happened. Glad to know they are alright.
Someone asked what times and frequencies we are meeting. Here is the current radio schedule:
0400Z 4.042
0700Z 4.030
1900Z 8.173 Rag on the Air (organized Net)

The fishing is still pretty dismal. Nothing except 2 massive, dead flying fish on deck this morning.

Someone asked what it is like out here at night. It actually is pretty cool. It is usually very clear and so there are millions of stars. You can pretty much see a shooting star anytime you want. Just look up and within a few minutes there will be a shooting star. The sunsets also are very cool. Sometimes the whole sky turns pink all around me. A typical evening routine is to set the course and the sails. Then I sit in the cockpit for about half an hour to make sure that the boat is balanced and I stay on course. Even 1 degree off course can really mess up your course over time. Even though I have a lee cloth on my bunk now, I still like to sleep on the floor better because I can really wedge myself in down there and I don't roll around so much. I get woken up a lot at night just by rolling around. If the alarms don't wake me, I still get up about 4 -5 times at night to check my course and sail trim. If the alarm goes off like it has been lately with these squalls, I get up sometimes 8 times at night. This means I do have to sleep some during the day. I have become a professional power napper. A 90 minute nap makes me feel pretty well rested. Sometines even my naps are interrupted lately. Looking forward to some good solid sleep when I get in.
My mom was telling me on the phone today about the depth sounder blowing out of a boat after being hit by lightning. I was remembering in Moby Dick that there was this thing called St. Elmo's Fire where the whole boat lit up with light during a lightning storm. I think the conditions have to be just right for it to happen and I don't think it can hurt you. I still don't think I want to find out. Sounds cool though.
Pray for wind!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Squalls, Thunder & Lightning

Latest Position 2:46 UTC 07/31/08: 8.26N, 175.39E

Long night with a few squalls and lightning storms. Thankfully, the lightning didn't get too close to Intrepid. I did put the handhelds in the microwave though! A mast is like a huge lightning rod and does attract the lightning. All boats are grounded to the water below but for some reason it doesn't seem to help in the case of on board electronics. Had more squalls off and on during the day which made sleeping difficult. Someone asked if a squall causes a swell? A squall is a small storm system that comes and goes pretty quickly. It usually brings higher winds and sometimes rain and swells (wave action). I think it depends on how far along the squall has been traveling (something to do with fetch). Usually swells are more affected by larger weather systems.

Looks like I am about 2 days out of Majuro. I should be in on Saturday (Friday in America) afternoon and hopefully Greg and Dad will be there before me. I am planning on staying about a week in Majuro. After that, it is still up in the air. There are a lot of factors involved in planning this part of the route with tides, currents, reefs. My Pacific crossing will seem tame compared to this next leg.

I'm sorry for the delay in getting photos on the site. There are many hours of footage and people are working nights to pull everything together at this stage. Hoping to have something excellent to show to Discovery by the end of this week.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Latest Position: 07/30/08 0252UTC and 07/29/08 7:52pmPDT: 9.05N, 178.01E

Notice my E-W coordinate? I have passed 180 degrees which is the international dateline.

I have just lost a day of my life. I have been thinking today about how or if I will ever get it back.


At this position, I am 420 nautical miles from Majuro. As it is already Wedneday here, I am hoping to arrive on Saturday in the early afternoon. Dad and Greg (from Itik Productions) are landing about 10am so hopefully they will be here to see me in. It will be good to get on land again. Some of the locals are organising to see me into the harbor which will be great. Moana is still nearby and we are hoping to be able to enter the harbor together as they don't have any charts of the area. I have a bunch of charts but not much in the way of a detailed cruising guide. They guys in Majuro should be able to guide us in via radio though. The pass seems pretty straight forward with no coral reefs to speak of and deep water all around. Also the channel is very well marked. As long as I make it there during daylight my entry should be relatively easy. If I arrive after dark, I will need to wait untl morning. I will have to pace myself as I get nearer so that I arrive at a good time.

Nothing too exciting today. I did have a squall this morning but it passed next to me. Dave Morris' forecast shows the following:

Satellite imagery shows a larger convective complex developing at 8N 175W,also tracking from east to west, a little faster than the surface flow.Thunderstorms associated with this system are likely to influence Intrepid’sweather over the next 12 hours.

I am a little north of my course anyway so I will beware but looks like Moana, who is further south, will have to be on their guard.

Have been reading Jesse Martin's book Lionheart. This is the book he wrote after his solo, non-stop, unassisted round the world sail. It is a great read. I am also reading several cruising guides and trying to finish Joshua Slocum. I have been eating oatmeal and fruit for breakfast and cooking up a 'linner' in the afternoon of something hot. I'll probably try more rice and either canned chicken or tuna tonight. I have a lot of dired fruit, nuts, beef jerky and power-type bars on board. I do remember that Trader Joe's pineapple though. Have to get mom to get me some!

The winds were light this morning and gradually increasing to about 20 knots. The swells are less steep and I have been able to do a little boat surfing today. The angle is very comfortable so I am able to keep the full genoa out and the main with one reef.

All is well here. Really enjoying covering so much ground. Thanks for all the tips and advice!



Monday, July 28, 2008

Latest Position as of 8:00pm PDT/3:00pm Majuro time/0300UTC: 9.24N, 179.29W

Still having great winds. I ate a whole can of Spam yesterday and am feeling pretty fat! The Spam was a joke gift from my mom but it actually tasted really good fried up with some mayo on toast! My grandmother in Pasadena suggested I cook up a bag of Trader Joe's rice with a can of tuna and some terriyaki sauce. Wow. Very good. So I am trying to spend more time thinking about eating and exercising so hopefully I'll get some more energy. I don't ever feel seasick. I just don't feel hungry. Hot food does taste good so I'm glad I stopped in Hawaii to get more fuel.

There has been some talk of my plan B. When you are out here in the middle of the ocean you do give that a lot of thought. Ipods really aren't designed to get wet but my 3 GPS units are. I have only used one of them so far. One is in my ditch bag. I think I have described this before. It is a bag built out of buoyant material that is filled with flares, GPS, personal locator beacon (a sponsored item from Microwave Monolithics) this is similar to the EPIRB on the boat but made to carry personally. Other things in the ditch bag are water, powerbars, fishing gear, small medical kit (sponsored by Adventure Medical Kits), a can opener, knife, mirror, whistle, strobe light etc. The ditch bag is the first thing you grab if you have to jump into your life raft. The other GPS is stored in the kitchen. You may be wondering why I store my spare GPS in the kitchen. It is a known fact (theory) that if you place your handheld electronics in your microwave during a lightning strike, they will not be harmed. All other electronics would be fried.
I have been reading a lot. I'm working on about 5 books at once. Depends on my mood. We have also been researching my next leg after Majuro. Looks like Port Moresby may not be a good choice for a single hander. It has a pretty fierce reputation for crime and violence. Other parts of PNG are supposed to be great but there are only 2 places for a boater to check in (immigration) in PNG and one of them is too far off course. The web site Route page needs to be updated because I am no longer stopping at Tarawa or the Solomon Islands. This may mean a straight run to Darwin, Australia. I received an email from John Knight who wrote an excellent guide to cruising off Northern Australia. He has offered to help route me through this area. With David Morris (who gets his courses approved by Jimmy Cornell of World Cruising Routes) and John Knight and 2 family friends who have cruised extensively in this area, we should be able to choose a good, safe route.
Moana is battling stronger winds. They would like lighter winds so they can pull out their genoa (larger forward sail). I would like stronger winds. I've got 15 knots from the awkward angle like on the way to Hawaii. I'm missing surfing down those swells! We are still talking twice a day to each other and also on the net in Majuro. Really looking forward to Majuro. I learned from my new best friend, Rob Jordan, that I can get a legal drivers license in Majuro for $20 without a test. All you have to do is tell them you are a good driver! I am so there!

Note from Mom:

This is an article about Majuro that was forwarded to us today:

I heard back from Karen in Majuro. "Mailing should be no problem. You had the right address. But if you want to slightly reword it, here’s what I would say:
Zac Sunderland
Yacht Intrepid
General Delivery
Marshall Islands (MH) 96960

Getting busy around here as Zac prepares to arrive in Majuro. Laurence will fly out Thursday with a few guys from Itik Productions. Hopefully no one is injured by Zac and his new driver's license! He proves that he is still 16!

Thanks for the support!
Good Morning!
Just a quick note that I will be talking to Zac and hopefully receiving his blog later this morning. I put an email out to some friendly people whi have been advising us in Majuro about the postal address. I'll let you know soon - they are about 6 hours earlier there so it may be afew hours.
Thanks for your support!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Latest Position as of July 27, 2008 at 1810UTC/11:10PDT: 10.59N, 176.35W

The wind settled down some last night so my average speed was only 5 knots. I remember when 5 knots would have seemed like racing along when I was becalmed on the way to Hawaii!
I spoke on the radio with Moana again last night. They had had a nap and were able to tell me more about their squall that blew out their sail. They had been sleeping. It was 9:00 at night. They don't have a radar so they have to keep their eyes out for squalls. A squall hit them suddenly with 30+ knots. They were 'knocked down' which is anytime when your spreaders hit the water. Spreaders are metal bars attached to the mast the 'spread' out the shrouds (the metal lines that hold up the mast. They ran up on deck to release the main sheet (spilling wind out of the main sail). The boat righted itself and they were able to sail along under stay sail alone while they checked the boat for damage. The wind was still blowing at 30 knots. Before they had finished checking things over a gust of wind at over 40 knots hit them and blew out the stay sail, tearing apart at the seams. Made me nervous last night and I really didn't sleep well. I kept getting up to check the sky, radar etc.
I also spoke to Lady Sarah last night. Claire's hand is healing well. They have been hiking and mountain biking around Kauai and having a blast while they wait for their friend to fly out to crew on the way to Vancouver.
On a more mundane note, I cleaned out my fridge yesterday afternoon. It was pretty disgusting. I haven't been able to run it because of my solar panel charging problem.
It's too bad because I finally have an appetite but a lot of my fresh food is moldy except for some fruit (apples and oranges). It must be the heat.
I have also been using these exercise bands. My legs felt pretty weak when I was in Hawaii. I'm afraid of how much weaker I will get along the way. I never asked Jesse (Martin) about that. When he circumnavigated, he went non-stop and was out for almost a year without stepping foot off his boat!
I have been talking with some boaters in Majuro on the SSB radio. It is great to talk to them about the weather and what to expect. They will give Moana and me all the info we need to get into Majuro. Should be about Friday all being well. The Robert Reimers Hotel has offered to put up dad and a few film guys at the hotel for free and are donating the use of a rental car. What amazing generosity! It seems like the Majurans are super friendly. Should be a blast. Dad and I are hoping to do some spear fishing while we're there.
Thanks for the tips on the ipod rescue. Though I had considered getting a haircut about a week ago, it has gotten past the annoying stage and is now actually a good covering for my neck and ears. Sorry Bill!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Current Position as of July 26, 2008 at 1802UTC: 12.18N, 174.49W

Have had exceptionally good wind pretty consistantly at 20-25 knots. This makes my job of filling the sails so much easier as I have tospill wind to keep from being overpowered. The swells are becoming more sharp and less like rollers. I have has some incredible speeds flying down thses things - as much as 9.7 knots at one point! It is really awesome moving along like this. My average speed has been between 6.5 and 7.0 knots. I could get more speed out of the boat but it is hard on the rig and requires more maintenance which is too much for a single-hander.
I have been experimenting with my charging ability vs my usage. The wind generator is definitely getting a workout on this leg!
A few people have asked again about how I keep safe on deck when reefing in heavy winds. First of all, all of my lines come back to the cockpit so I don't have to go on deck. If for some reason I have to go on deck I am always wearing a harness and tether which is a line from the harness to the boat. I never take either of them off. I have read of several sailors who have jumped up in the middle of the night to deal with some emergency and realized too late that they aren't clipped on. Also, I 'shorten' sail everynight. This slows the boat down some but helps avoid the problem of getting overpowered while sleeping. The other night when I woke up on my wall, the wind must have picked up gradually because the radar never alerted me to a squall as ususal.
Besides my daily net with Moana, (yes I was hearing them wrong all this time), I am now talking on a South Pacific Net call Rag on the Air that includes many of the islands down here near the Marshalls. I can hear people calling from Fiji as well as Tarawa and the Marshalls. I now talk with Moana several times a day. This morning they told me that they blew out their stay sail and will be detouring to Majuro. I am glad to be able to see them again but it is a bummer about their sail. The stay sail is a smaller sail that is on the bow of the boat. May boats will sail under the main sail and the stay sail inheavy weather. In heavier weather boats will sail under stay sail alone. Moana was sailing under stay sail alone in 30-33 knots of wind last night when the wind began gusting to 40 knots! The heavy wind shredded their stay sail. They are in contact with dad who will hopefully be able to arrange a new sail for them and bring it out to Majuro next week. This story makes me grateful for my new UK Halsey sails. They have been incredible to work with. This is also one of the major reasons, besides better wind, for stopping at Majuro. Majuro has an international airport and has more services for travelers and boaters.
Today I will attempt to repair some leaks around the boat. I don't know how it is possible for my windows to leak! They were just installed.
I also have been using the exercise bands that mom brought to Hawaii. I am afraid to lose too much weight out here. Although I should say that it is very cool out here. It is really warm and balmy all day and night. Even the water and rain are warm. The wind and sea are just awesome to be part of.
I do have some bad news of my own though nothing like that of Moana. A wild swell crashed over the side of Intrepid while I was sleeping last night and sprayed in the small opening I had left in the companionway. It completely soaked my ipod and I'm pretty sure its dead. Better the ipod than the sails.
This is getting long...I will attempt to answer more of your questions now that I am pretty well on a schedule and feeling more energy than when I first set off.


Note from Mom:
A few people asked if Zac would stop at Johnston Atoll. I knew that he couldn't but wasn't sure why. I got the following info online. Hope it answers a few questions.

Johnston is a coral atoll about 700 mi southwest of Hawaii. It consists of four small islands—Johnston Island, Sand Island, Hikina Island, and Akau Island—which lie on a 9-mile-long reef. The atoll was discovered by Capt. Charles James Johnston of HMS Cornwallis in 1807. In 1858 it was claimed by Hawaii, and it later became a U.S. possession. Johnston Atoll was used by the U.S. Air Force to conduct test launchings of nuclear missiles and contains a landfill of plutonium-contaminated waste. More than four million pounds of chemical weapons have been destroyed on Johnston since 1990, and the U.S. military has been fined several times since then for improperly handing VX and sarin gas and releasing the deadly substances on the atoll. The military is gradually departing and the atoll will be turned into a wildlife refuge. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the atoll's inheritor, is concerned about the possibility of eventual radioactive leakage.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Current Position as of 0233 UTC: 14.18N, 171.11W

A great day for wind today in fact I tightened some screws holding the wires to the wind generator and am getting a better charge out of them. A good thing since I've had between 17-23 knots for most of today. I was actually moving at 8 knots for awhile! I'm making great time and am hoping to be in Majuro, Marhsall Islands by the end of next week. I can't believe I've only been out here for a week since Hawaii. It is really wild out here today. The sky is grey, the swells are growing, the wind is howling and there are white caps all around the boat. I've been trimming the sails all day to keep the wind but not too much wind. Last night around 2:00am (Hawaii time) I woke up because instead of sleeping on my matress, I was sleeping on the wall. When I realized what was going on, that I was heeling over too far, I jumped out of bed and into the cockpit to reef sails. On my way out I made sure to turn on a few cameras. Later today when I looked at the footage I was amazed to see how far I was heeled over and that I was leaning parallel to the kitchen cabinets as if it were nothing. Because of all the rain and spray I finally came down below and closed up the boat. I've never had to do that before. The Monitor windvane that is steering the boat has been working great. Or should I say that I have finally figured it all out. I have bearly had to touch it since leaving Hawaii. I had heard people say that kind of thing in the past but found it hard to believe until now. I tried to reach Mahana today but wasn't able to get through. Sometimes the storm action makes getting a connection difficult. It is great to have Clearpoint Weather to check in on the weather and see what is going on out there and knowing somewhat to expect. I say somewhat because even with this sophisticated peice of equipment, there are small areas of weather (ie squalls) that are different from the general forecast. I spoke with David Morris (meteorologist) today about the current weather and what to expect as I approach Majuro and on into the southern hemisphere. Looks like the adventure is only beginning!
Current Position as of 1700UTC: 14.37N, 170.16W

Yesterday was a good day even though I am working through some charging issues. I have been eating more and attempting to fish and especially happy to be sailing so well.
Spoke with Lady Sarah and Mahana today. Lady Sarah is still in Kauai until Claire has her stitches out in a few days. They changed their plans and instead of going to Alaska will go to Vancouver, British Columbia for the season there. They are waiting for a friend to fly in for crew as Claire's hand won't be able to do the sailing jobs it used to. Mahana is in some rougher weather with swells building and a few squalls.
I have been up since 4:00am with a stormy patch (not sure if it should be considered a squall). It is 8 miles wide according to the radar and shaped like a quarter moon. I am in the tail end of it with winds of about 18 knots and pouring rain! It has been pouring for hours. I am soaked through but it is warm and the windvane is handling the stearing so I closed up the boat and came down below. I am reading up on the approach to Majuro and am excited to be getting closer.
Not sure what I'll get up to today. My fishing lines are all tangled so I'll probably spend a few hours putting that right once the weather clears up.

From Mom:
Someone asked for the address in Majuro for any of you who want to send Zac a postcard or letter:

Yacht Intrepid
Mr. Zac Sunderland
Poste Restante
Majuro, MH 96960

Thanks for the electrical tips. I am passing them along to those in the know!

Smooth Sailing

Note from Mom:
This is for you morning-coffee-with-Zac's-blog people. We spoke with Zac several times today. He was in good spirits but unable to run his computer to send me his blog due to power issues. It was a pretty typical day with Top Ramen, fishing lines, moldy fruit, good wind etc. Laurence spoke at the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club this evening about Zac's journey. It was an awesome time because many of the volunteers and supporters that helped prep Zac's boat for sea were there. After talking about the historyof Zac's trip and the prep involved, we answered questions from the audience and then called Zac on his sat phone and spoke to him on speaker phone. The remnants of Tropical Storm Elida will be upong Zac this evening bringing. in the words of meteorologist Davis Morris, "CONSIDERABLY" stronger localized gusts and surges. It will be good to get him out of the Northern Hemisphere for sure.
No position tonight but at last conversation Zac was on course and making 6 knots in 12 knots of wind. Not too shabby!
Hoping to get our new schedule ironed out soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Current Position as of 2000UTC: 15.54N, 168.52W

Note from Mom:
Sorry for the delay in posting. Last night Zac was working through another solar panel issue via sat phone with electrician, Mike Smith from North Carolina. They determined that when Zac uses his Single Side Band radio, somehow RF from the radio is traveling to the soalr panel regulator and frying it! Hey Mike, if you're reading this, feel free to comment and correct me. I am actually a general class Ham operator but specialize only in talking on the radio not fixing or installing! Thank God for Gordon West!
For now, I will be posting Zac's blogs in the morning as he travels farther and into earlier time zones. Why am I only posting at 3:30 PDT? That is a long story but consists of having 7 kids, one home business and a kid sailing around the world alone! But this is not my blog so I will leave that to suffice!

Yesterday was the day that I finally felt back 'in the groove'. I am sleeping better and have been able to really power nap again. I rigged up a fishing line today. Mahana caught a 4-5 foot tuna today. Well they sort of caught one. When they got the fish close to the boat the line broke. Haven't been any more Booby birds so hopefully I won't end up catching one of those. The wind has been pretty consistant and I am making good time. It feels great to be getting to Majuro so quickly. I have been averaging between 5-6 knots most of the time. After checking email and working on my blog today, I noticed that my solar panels weren't charging as much as they should have been. I checked the fuses and the connections all round and they all seemed to be good. I checked the panels themselves and found that the Boobies must have been hanging out there. I climbed up the stainless steel mount and wiped them down with a rag which was fun in the wind and swells. They still weren't charging well so I called Mike Smith, one of the electricians that worked on Intrepid before I left. We went through the entire system with Mike calling the regulator manufacterer for help. We think that the RF from the SSB radio is causing the problem. This isn't a terrible problem because I can still charge my batteries from the wind generator (and there is a lot of wind) and in an emergencey I can charge with my engine. It does mean that I need to conserve power pretty seriously. I reset the radar to a more powersaving mode so hopefully that will help. The radar is one of my biggest power draws.
I slept in the cockpit last night becasue it is so warm. The moon is only about half full but is still really bright and the nights have been really clear.
There have been a lot of questions about pirates lately. I think you all are doing a good job answering all the questions. Basically, the areas of piracy are well documented. Even though my route looks like it is close to Indonesia, it isn't close enough to the problem areas. I have been reading about Papua New Guinea and there is a lot of crime there (on land) and malaria will be a problem until I clear the Panama Canal. I am hoping to have a host in PNG to help me with my travels and I will start taking my antimalarials once a week when I leave Majuro.
Sorry for the scare...will post again in the morning.

Piracy map:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Current Position as of 0300UTC: 18.10N, 165.52W

OK well last night went pretty well as far as sleep goes. I had three small squalls through the night all under 30 knots, one of which brought a really heavy rain for about 20 minutes. This morning around 4:30 I had a pretty bad looking squall pass about half a mile away. After the morning series of 7 squalls within 10 miles had passed I crashed for an hour or so till the wind picked up and I got thrown out of my bunk. That's always a fun wake up call. Yes, Dad, I should have taken care of it earlier. I got up and went to find some screws to hold my new lee cloth in place (this is the piece of canvas that holds you in your bunk when you are in rough seas). I had a new one made in Hawaii but because I wanted to get moving I agreed to install it myself while underway. When I was done fastening the lee cloth I wasn't tired any more so I threw some music on and spent a couple hours cleaning the boat and rearranging all my new provisions. It's amazing how a couple squalls can turn the inside of a boat upside down. Then I hung up a couple of posters that I got in Hawaii and checked email. Halfway through I glanced at the clock and saw I was 10 minutes late for my radio net with Mahana. I shut off the computer and got on the radio and and hailed them. There was a lot of static on the frequency so after the third hail with no response I shut off my wind generator and the static went a way. I finally got through to them. All was well with them; they have had very similar experiences to me with squalls and rain. They also had caught a small wahoo but before they noticed, a shark had come up and bit it in half. I got off the radio and finished getting some emails and did some sail trim to get the boat sailing a bit better. Looks like I'm going to have good wind for the night. But hey who knows what I'll have in an hour - the weather changes pretty fast out hear.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Current Position as of 0300UTC: 18.51N, 163.52W

A slower day today but the swells are mellowing out which means good sleeping. I am feeling much better after getting more sleep and getting back in to 'power nap' mode. I ate mostly fruit again today but will pump up the old alcohol stove and make something hot tonight. Speaking of the stove, there were a lot of questions about it a while back. Basically, we thought we would have to replace it until one night back in Marina del Rey, this Aussie guy named JP came down the dock and asked if there was anything he could do to help. Dad set him to work on the stove. He did such a good job and since we had replaced nearly everything else on the boat, we decided to keep it. In fact he did such a good job we put him to work most evenings after that. JP is a top guy and volunteered a ton of time even though he is getting his own boat ready to cruise back to OZ. So the stove story is not really very exciting but that's the story.
More squalls today. I saw at least 15 on the radar throughout the day but only passed through 5-6 of them. They weren't as intense as the squalls yesterday. They had mostly around 20 knots of wind. They do look ominous on the horizon though. Today I saw one that was thick black right down to the water. We never made contact, thank God. The weather is definitely a lot different on this leg. It really does keep me on my toes.
I spoke with Mahana today on the SSB. They are doing hull speed (the fastest your boat is designed to go). They are headed a little further south than me and are still about 200 miles away. Lady Sarah is still in Kauai and must be out of radio range now or is too busy to get on the radio. My forecast looks good for the next few days. The wind should be steady and is building a little even now. The swells have calmed down which makes for a more comfortable ride. I cleaned up after myself today and sorted through some of my winter clothes that I won't be needing for quite awhile. The clothing company Volcom had noticed that I was wearing a Volcom shirt somewhere and generously donated a box of cool clothes. Dad will bring it with him to the Marshalls.
So, not much else today. I know there are some questions I need to answer but will hope to get to them tomorrow. No visitors - no problem.

Note from Mom:
I thought it might be fun for anyone who is interested to send Zac a letter or postcard from wherever you are to Majuro. I think it takes about 5 days for a letter to get there. He should be there in 2 weeks and stay for about 5 days max. Here is the address:

Yacht Intrepid
Mr. Zac Sunderland
Poste Restante
Majuro, MH 96960

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Current Position as of 4:30 UTC: 19.16N, 162.08W

Thank you all for praying...the squalls either passed by me or were light compared to what I had earlier. It was still a rough night with sharp swells and some of the dumbest birds known to mankind. Yes, it was the booby birds again. They circle my boat crashing into it every now and then. One landed on my solar panels. Not wanting to clean my solar panels in these swells and knowing from experience about nesting booby birds I began to scheme a way to get it off my solar panel. The oranges from my parents' hotel room were getting a bit moldy so I threw them at the bird. He would get hit and then right himself and stubbornly stay put. I ended up taking a washboard from my companionway and using it to push the booby right off the end of the panel. Then about 2am another booby ended up in the cockpit, threw up some half digested fish and flew off! Just in case you think I'm cruel, the Aussie guys on Mahana are having a similar problem and are seriously considering getting out their BB gun! For those of you who asked about our radio frequency, we meet at 0200UTC at 8188 on SSB. I'm not very experienced with radios so if I have left out a mega hert or something, let me know and I'll try to figure it out.
I have been making good progress going between 5-6 knots day and night. It has been hard for the windvane to steer on this downwind course. The swells are sort of confused, almost like a swell within a swell but going in different directions. My newly fitted lee clothes around the cockpit have been great at keeping the water out of the cockpit. The winds have settled down to about 17 knots and the swells are some less this evening with the forecast calling for then to die down more and more.
I have heard from some people in Majuro and it looks like they are expecting me which is exciting. I am hoping at this speed to make it to Majuro with in about 2 weeks. Mom is trying to find an easy way to post the articles from their local paper.

Someone asked a while back about the Feedburner reader count on the links section of the blog. Apparently, it is a count of how many people are currently reading the blog not a running total.

Someone also asked what are the similarities and differences between me and Robin Lee Graham. Robin sailed a similar course to mine back in the 1960s. In fact, I based much of my route on his. He left Southern California when he was 16 and returned when he was 21. I think one of the major differences between Robin and I besides him taking 5 years and me taking one, is the equipment we have had on board. Robin left with a VHF radio, sextant and at some point in the trip picked up a transistor radio. That was the extent of his electronics package. Alongside my sextant, which I have already confessed I don't know how to use, I have several GPS units, 2 radars, a chart plotter, 2 computers, a high frequency radio, a sat phone, and a stereo system. This is typical cruising gear now a days. I also have an EPIRB, an electronic emergency beacon, and a life raft. Compared to Robin, my trip seems easy or at least a lot safer! Robin left with the same desire to see some of the world as me. In attempting to be the youngest to ever solo circumnavigate, I will have less time to explore in order to keep to my schedule. I am hoping to be able to come back again and take more time one day.
Things seems to be calming down. I ate mostly fruit today. I'm not seasick but the first few days I just seem to feel weird. The fruit keeps my energy up and tastes great out here!
Until tomorrow,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beauty and the Beasts

Current Position as of 18:25UTC: 20.14N, 159.31W
(date of position will always be the date of the post unless otherwise noted)

The Pacific has given me a rude welcome with heavy winds and sharp swells since my departure. I did make 110 miles so in a way it was worth the almost sleepless night. I spent the day near the helm helping Intrepid make her way down these swells and stay on course and napping when I could.
I have had 2 squalls as of this writing with a few more on the radar. These squalls are different from the ones I experienced on the way to Hawaii. These are the ones you read about in books; heavy winds (25-35 knots), large swells and pouring rain. They don't last long - maybe 10-15 minutes but they put you through your paces! The second one was especially impressive because it crept up behind me. I forgot to mention the full moon last night. I was sleeping and woke up with this yellow light all around me. When I got up and looked around, there was the full moon behind a big cloud. The light was so amazing. When the cloud cleared the whole ocean was lit up. Awesome!
The highlight of my day was that I got an email this morning from Robin Graham. Funny, he warned me about squalls! He also reminded me of a scripture that I memorized many years ago that is sometimes called the Mariner's Psalm.

Others went out to the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wit's end.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.
Psalm 107:23-32

I spoke with Lady Sarah of Lymington and Mahana today. Mahana had a squall and now has about 12-15 knots of wind. We are still about 200 miles apart since they left Hawaii before me. Lady Sarah has turned in to Kauai because Claire was injured today and needed stitches. The radio was unclear but it sounded like she was bit by a Wahoo they were reeling in. Made me think of what I would do in the same position. I have an extensive medical kit on board. I would have to clean it, tape it up and possibly take some antibiotics to prevent infection. Fortunately, I can call for advice on the SSB radio or the sat phone.

Thanks again to every one who writes in. It is great to think of you all out there praying for me!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Aloha Hawaii!

Sailboat passing along the North Shore, Oahu

Current Position (as of 3:00 UTC): 21.04N, 158.15W

My last morning in beautiful Hawaii was spent removing the old solar panel regulator, buying a new one and reinstalling it. Craig, the Hawaiian cameraman from Itik, graciously picked me up at the yacht club to bring me to the solar panel store. He hung around to lend a hand including taking me to lunch and taping my departure. Craig is just one of the many friendly Hawaiian people I have met. While I'm at it I should thank Howie, Vice Commador of the Hawaii Yacht Club, and his wife Barbara for all of their help and support during my stay at the club and Ron du Bois for spending so much time troubleshooting and fixing my SSB (It was a faulty USB cable. Thank God for Radio Shack.) There were 2 other cruising boats at the club while I was there; Lady Sarah of Lymington, which happens to be the small town on the southern coast of England that my dad is from, and Mahana, with a father and son, Chris and John, who flew to San Diego from Australia, bought a boat and set about to sail it back to Oz! They actually left San Diego the day I was initially supposed to leave on May 31st and got stuck in a terrible gale for 3 days! Lady Sarah is headed north to Alaska and Mahana is headed to Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, which is an island group south of the Marshalls. We have set up our own Single Side Band radio net at 4:00UTC each day to check in on each other. So far they both have had light winds. That has not been my experience!

I pulled out of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor about 12:00pm today and was hit with 25 knots. I figured the wind was whipping around the island and pressed on going 6 knots under a reefed main sail alone. The wind has died down to about 15-18 knots which is great but the swells are sharp and messy, drenching my cockpit and slapping the hull around. I remembered reading in The Dove, that it is a tradition to throw your lei in the ocean as you leave Hawaii so you know you will go back one day. I made sure to do this because I definitely want to come back here one day!

It is a little sad to leave Hawaii, I had such a great time here, especially seeing Will and relaxing at the beach. Being back at sea is instantly familiar but it will take a few days to settle in. I have been putting off turning on the radar. It is necessary to keep me safe but I'm not looking forward to interpreting those alarms! It is such an intense part of my day watching the radar and plotting my course. Hopefully it won't take as long to get in the groove on this leg.

All of my film and photos are back on the mainland where people are busy putting together a slide show of my first leg, among other things! Please stay tuned for this.

Gotta get back to it here.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hawaiian Holiday

Intrepid at Hawaii Yacht Club
Will and I on the North Shore

The last few days here in Hawaii have been great!

Waikiki is crazy busy after my time alone at sea. The beaches are beautiful but there are hundreds of tall hotels stretching for miles up and down the coast. First thing on Saturday, after eating, was to go down to the boat and check her out. She handled her trip to Hawaii very well. Dad and I ran through things quickly and made a few lists of work. I packed up my laundry and spent some quality time at the laundrymat. My friend from school, Will Craddick, who is spending the summer here working with his uncle, took the bus over to Hawaii Yacht Club. It was great to see another familiar face. After having lunch with mom and dad we walked into the town of Waikiki. We rented surfboards and hit the Kiwi Reef Break. We spent a few hours dodging coral reefs and surfing. The weather is so warm and so is the water.

After that, the film crew who are helping document my trip, mom, dad, Will and I drove up to the North Shore to watch the sunset and do some filmng. It was great to see more of the island of Oahu because Waikiki is so built up but the North Shore area is much more remote. It really wasn't what I had expected. I was thinking of 20' waves and crazy barrels but we jumped out of the Jeep and ran over to where the famous Pipeline is supposed to be only to see 2 maybe 3 foot waves! Oh well, will have to come back in the winter.

We ate fresh fish at Haleiwa Joe's on the beach and headed back to the hotel for the night.

On Sunday morning, Greg and Todd from Itik Productions and I hopped on a plane to the island of Kauai to meet Bethany Hamilton and her family. You may have heard of Bethany. About 5 years ago when she was 13, she was out surfing and was attacked by a shark. She lost her left arm in the attack but what is more amazing is that after healing up from the attack, she got up and went surfing again. She is currently one of the top surfers in competition. Check out her web site: Greg rented a convertable and we bombed down the highway with the top down to meet the Hamilton's at their church. We were late for the service but just in time for lunch! We met Bethany and her parents and after hanging out for awhile we went back to their house, grabbed some boards and hit the local break. Seeing how I didn't have a board with me, Bethany was kind enough to loan me one of her pink ones. Thanks Bethany!! We paddled out and chilled awhile in the warm water. Bethany is amazing how she tears it up on the waves. After they got a few good shots, Greg and Todd came out and surfed for awhile before we headed back to Bethany's house for some sushi. Bethany's dad took us out in his dinghy to show us the around the bay where they live. When we got back we said our goodbyes and I promised to take Bethany out sailing some day. The day ended too soon and we had to head back to the airport and get back to Waikiki. Greg stayed at the airport and caught his red eye back to LA. Dad came and picked Todd and I up and I had another deep sleep at the hotel.

Monday was the assigned work day so we got up early and got right to it stowing all the fresh provisions, fixing some tangled rigging and spraying Salt Away in all the hardware to keep the rigging running free. The canvas guy came down and measured for my new lee cloth (to hold me in my bunk when there is a big swell running) and arranged to fix up my lee clothes that go around the cockpit. My parents and Todd and I had a last meal together at the all-you-eat buffet at the hotel :) before they all flew out.

On Tuesday morning, I finished up some predeparture preparations. About 11:00am Will's bus rolled in and we hit the surf until 5:00pm. We got some great waves off the reef. It was breaking 5s and 6s on the outer breaks. It was really a rush dropping into a 6 footer with coral in only 2 feet of water under the board. Serious motivtion to stay on the board! We went back to Hawaii Yacht Club for lunch/dinner and went back to the beach to get a shave ice and hang out on the beach. Since we were walking everywhere, we walked over to the Ala Moana Shopping Center to the skateboard shop to find some faster transportation. T & C made us up a skateboard which Will bought for me as a going away present! We skated around the mall (and through a few stores) before heading back to the marina. We left the board at the boat and went for a walk down the beach to see the nightlife. We walked all the way down Waikiki Beach, hit the Burger King and then walked back to the boat to crash for the night.

Today, Wednesday, is supposed to be departure day but I am waiting for the electrician to arrive to go through my charging system. Though I managed on the power I had, it seems that the solar panels should be doing more. Hopefully he will be able to get to the bottom of things. I have been working on my blog/homework and troubleshooting my on board email with Ron du Bois. Ron is a good friend of a friend of my dad's and has been great organizing my stay here and helping with the computers etc. I had an interview with Sonrise, a morning news show here in Oahu.

Here is the link:

I am excited to get back on the water but it looks like I will be delayed at least until tomorrow so we can replace the solar panel regulator. It isn't functioning as it should probably due to moisture. The panels still charge some but it could be a lot better. Dad and I decided to wait for the part rather here than head to more remote places to do the repair. Hopefully, I will be able to head out in the late morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 15, 2008

Ala Wai Boat Harbor & Hawaii Yacht Club

Zac and Ben at the North Shore

Note from Mom:

Zac is working on his blog and it will definitely be worth waiting for! We had a great time visiting with him in Oahu. It was hard to say goodbye yesterday evening when Laurence, Ben and I flew out on the red eye for California. Besides some reprovisioning and repairs, Zac has been surfing, snorkling, shopping, EATING, filming and many other exciting things that he will elaborate on tomorrow. Consider it a homework asignment!

Zac was planning on leaving Wednesday the 16th but will be put off another day waiting for a clean bill of health on his solar panels.

I also want to note that because of some ill-founded and inappropriate comments on Zac's blog, we have initiated the 'moderated post' setting at Basically, we will be reading over all posts before publishing them to the site. Swearing, insulting and encouraging Zac to disregard his parents aren't what this site is here to promote. We love hearing from you all - even doubters or critics who are fair and based on fact. Zac's desire is to be an inspiration to people and we would like to keep the atmospere around here as positive as possible.

I hope you will be understanding of this but as always, we appreciate your comments. Let's try to keep this site about following Zac's adventure and encouraging him to be a positive role model.



Links to Hawaii articles:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Welcome to Paradise!

Intrepid under sail off Diamond Head

Current Position: Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu. Will get the coordinates tomorrow off the boat.

Ok so last night I picked up some wind about 30 miles out of the Kawiii Channel, the passage between Mokakai and Oahu which is notorious for bad sea conditions. The wind built up to about 15 knots by the time I reached the channel. I reached the channel at 12:30am and set my course for Diamond Head. The channel was a little choppy and I got a couple waves in the cockpit. At around 2:00am one came over the side of the boat and soaked me. It was a warm night so it wasn't bad actually- helped me stay up. I was up all last night navigating around ships and studying charts. I reached Diamond Head around 4am and called my mom who told me I was going to have to stand off the harbor till the reporters got there at 9am....... just what I want be doing after being out at sea for three weeks and not sleeping all night! O well, so at around 9:30am a boat packed with camera crews and reporters came out and got some footage of me sailing (well if you can call it that - the wind pretty much stopped after I got around Diamond Head). They guided me in to the Ala Wai Harbor. I docked up and hopped off the boat, got my lei (purple flower necklace). I did a few interviews, locked up the boat and headed off to my parents hotel. We hit the lunch buffet where I ate a little of everything (amazing pineapple!) and slept for a couple hrs. The shower was awesome.

Tonight we just hung out at the hotel and watched some of my video log and ate some more good food. Lots of talk about plans, work and fun. We'll figure it all out tomorrow...


Just a quick note from mom:

Zac has been standing off the harbor here in Waikiki since about 6:00 this morning. He is waiting for the press crews to arrive. I'm sure it seems ridiculous to him that we need our 8 hours of sleep, a shower and coffee before we can get to work! He had a wild ride throught the Kaiwi Channel last night with a few waves breaking into the cockpit! He is in good spirits and is looking forward to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the hotel.

For any of you here in Waikiki, Zac will be pulling in at 9:00 this mornng if yu want to come down and shake his hand!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Land Ho!

Current Position (as of 4:56 UTC): 21.28N, 156.56W

Note from Mom: These posts are getting later and later as Zac travels across the Pacific! I post his blogs for him and copy, paste and forward many of your comments and emails to his on board email. We have had some technical difficulties on our travels but will do our best to get these blogs posted most days while he is here in Honolulu. I was pretty excited this afternoon to get a call from Zac on his cell phone! I looked down and there was his photo ID.

From Zac: I am excited. I spotted the outline of the island of Molokai early this afternoon. I hadn't really thought to be looking and was up on deck securing some lines with the constantly shifting winds I've had today when I looked up and there it was! No, I couldn't smell land as some people have done. That is probably because the wind is coming from the seaward side not offshore. I am currently about 10 miles off the shore of Molokai, 50 miles from Diamond Head and 55 miles from The Hawaii Yacht Club.
I was busy most of the day changing sails. I'd just get the sails set wing and wing, which is when the wind is directly behind you and you set one sail out to port and the other out to starboard. It is a tricky point of sail if the wind shifts so you have to tie down eveything. I'm sure I looked like a three ring circus up and down all day long. I've been studying my charts and cruising guides to know the best route into the marina. There is a lot of coral around Oahu that can do serious damage to your boat. The channels are all well marked as long as you know what you are looking for. I've been less careful about using power and microwaved some oatmeal today. It was my first breakfast at sea besides my bacon and eggs in Emerald Bay. I was saving the rest of my bacon and eggs for later in the trip but then ran out of alcohol for my stove!!
Mom and dad have been busy in Honolulu. They went to the chandlaries today to pick up my list of supplies: 3 gallons of stove alcohol, a gas tank for my outboard motor, 2 DC powered fans, a wind scoop which is a nylon 'sock' that attaches to your boat hatch (little door/window in the deck) to pull wind into the boat while at anchor and a few other minor things. can you tell that it is hot here? We will shop for food in a few days.
Don't know how much sleep I'll get tonight. There is a lot of boat traffic tonight and, wouldn't you know, the wind is finally picking up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Visitor

Current Position (as of 5:00 UTC): 21.35N, 155.22W

Hey All!
Sorry for the scare yesterday. I think it would have been pretty hard to have had a tradegy at sea yesterday with the light winds and calm seas that I had. Thank you for all the concerned emails and comments.
You may have heard already that I had a visitor last night! In the middle of the night a Booby bird (not a blue-footed) crashed into my main sail and landed in the cockpit. I went up to see what the noise was and noticed the poor stunned thing crouching in the corner of the cockpit. Being half asleep and not realizing how many times a Booby bird can poop in 6 hours, I decided to let him rest there for awhile. When I woke up in the morning he was sitting on my tiller having a ride with the wind vane steering! I thought he would leave when he saw me but he just acted kind of bored with me and kept grooming himself. After awhile, I began to make threatening motions at the stubborn thing. He just screached at me like it was his boat. Not knowing what else to do I went below and grabbed my fog horn. You know the canned compressed air that pops your eardrums when you sound it? I shot theat thing of and no more Booby bird. Made for some great photos though.
After cleaning up after my guest I got to work with my boat chores and tried to take a nap. There are so many squalls that my radar alarm is constantly going off. I can't turn the radar off and sleep, so, no sleep. Have been reading Josh Slocum. I'm still in the part where he is preparing the boat for sea. I skipped ahead to the sailing part and read that he was trying to design a self steering device. In the end he learned how to balance his sails just right so the boat would keep itself on course. I wonder how often he still had to steer himself?
I made 55 miles today In 12 hours). That puts me about 150 miles from port. At this speed I probably won't make it in tomorrow but Friday for sure. Mom and Dad met with the Vice Commodor of the Hawaii Yacht Club today. He and the powers that be will welcome me as their guest for a few days when I arrive. Many thanks to everyone there who are preparing for my arrival. I am really looking forward to seeing Hawaii as I have never been there. Not sure what we will do there besides eat, sleep, laundry, shop and film but I'd be pretty happy to just do that.
Current Position (as of 5:00 UTC July 8, 2008): 21.23N, 153.57W

Note from Mom:
Laurence, Baby Ben and I flew in to beautiful Honolulu last night. We spoke to Zac but were not able to post his blog until now. Sorry to worry you all. He is doing extremely well as you will see below. We are very proud of how Zac has handled his days at sea. We always knew that he would do well but he has far exceeded even our expectations. He is due to arrive in Waikiki, Ala Wai Boat Harbor sometime Thursday afternoon. We are hoping to go out in a chase boat and meet him and follow him in. Should have some interesting photos and video soon.
We are making some changes to the web site. Please be patient while we work throught the kinks.

Another light day of winds but I did make 50 miles in 12 hours so at least I am moving and not becalmed completely. I've had quite a few squalls with dark clouds and rain. The wind comes for awhile but always from the wrong direction!
I cleaned out the V-berth (the forward cabin) today so I can sleep there. I moved everything into the quarter berth (the small berth/bed under the cockpit. I still can't find my fishing tackle box. All the feathers have fallen off the lure that I have been using.
We were talking about what kind of official paperwork I might need to do in Hawaii. Mom and dad had to fill out a form declaring any fresh food or plants that they had. The only fresh food I have left is one apple and one orange that I have been washing and drying to get the rotten banana off of them. Normally, I probably wouldn't have eaten them but today they look great!

It has been really hot here, epecially without the wind. I have been drinking some Propel water during the day, especially today because I was working all afternoon, and it really makes me feel good. I'm not conserving water like I had been, knowing that I can refill my tanks somewhere safe in a few days.

Still reading Joshua Slocum. Interesting how much sailing has changed and how much it has stayed the same.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Feast or Famine

Current Position as of 4:04 UTC: 20.58N, 152.06W

Another slow day today. The wind was so light at night that it was hard to steer other than by hand. Usually I sleep down below in the salon (main room of the boat). It is more comfortable there and I have a good view of the radar. I have rigged up some lines to the wind vane so I can pull them and adjust the course and not have to get up.

The wind was light all day - barely 4 knots. I think my average speed is 2 knots. Later this afternoon a squall showed up on the radar about a mile wide. I reefed the sails and prepared for heavy winds. The squall ended up being 3 squalls all together and they passed by with out any problem. The wind has been about 10 knots since then so I am traveling along at about 5 knots once again. The black clouds were totally surrounding my boat which really made for some good video footage.
I had to put down Huck Finn for now. It really needs my full attention because of all the slang and for now I usually fall asleep sometime while I'm reading. Instead I'm reading Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World. It is the story of the first solo circumnavigator who set sail from Boston in 1895. This book was a gift from Mike at Anchor's Way Boat Yard in Ventura.
My dad asked me if I was excited about being so close to Hawaii. For me though it is no different than any other day because I am still so far from port. At 2 knots average speed, 300 miles is still pretty far! I'm not desperate to get off the boat at all. I am looking forward to seeing my family and sleeping deeply and eating hot food.
It is really amazing to me that I get so many emails and blog comments. My mom read Grandma Jean's comments from Louisiana tonight. She also told me that there are a lot of people supporting my trip financially. Thank you again everyone for this. Your support has been as much of an inspiration to me as I have been to you.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Current Position 21:14 UTC: 20.49N, 150.32W

Good sailing day today. Spent quite a bit of the day close hauled which is a point of sail where the wind is on the forward quarter where you are sialing as close to the wind as possible. The sails are pulled in tight and the boat really goes. I am now about 400 miles from Waikiki. I spent the day cleaning and organizing for my stay in Hawaii. I've got a bag of laundry and a bag of trash and a few lists of supplies needed.
Dad will go over the boat and check the rigging for chafing. Chafing is when things rub against each other while under sail. This can be dangerous if things wear too thin and break. For example, halyards rubbing over the shives (wheel at the top of the mast that holds the halyards) at the top of the mast or sails on the spreaders, etc. Imagine the amount of continual wearing 24 hours a day, day in and day out. It may not seem like much contact but it can often end up with serious damage. I have been checking it but it will be good to check it in the slip.
Mom and I will reprovision. I have a better idea of what is good at sea. I alrady mentioned the oranges. Beef jerky is really good and Cliff and Lara bars. I'll probably pick up some more Top Ramen so I have something to write about on quiet days.
A few guys from Itik Productions are coming out to do some filming. Not sure what we'll get up to yet. You'll have to watch the show to find out!
The forecast calls for winds to lighten some as I near the islands. Hoping to keep up the pace here and get into Ala Wai Boat Harbor by Wednesday sometime.
Some interesting news - a school friend is spending the summer working with his uncle in Oahu for the summer (poor guy!) and will be able to come over to Waikiki to see me. Very cool.
Hoping for a quiet night. Winds are calming down.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Current Position (as of 9:18 PDT, which is Hawaiian time 6:18 pm, which is 4:15 UTC): 20.28N, 148.09W

Please notice that I am now posting my blogs in UTC or Coordinated Universal Time. It is used as the universal standard of time (and date). It used to be called GMT for Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich mean time was based upon the time at the zero degree meridian that crossed through Greenwich, England. GMT became a world time and date standard because it was used by Britain's Royal Navy and merchant fleet during the nineteenth century. UTC uses a 24-hour system of time notation. The following are some conversions for USA time zones:

Local Time Subtract from UTC:

Atlantic Standard Four hours
Atlantic Daylight Three hours
Eastern Standard Five hours
Eastern Daylight Four hours
Central Standard Six hours
Central Daylight Five hours
Mountain Standard Seven hours
Mountain Daylight Six hours
Pacific Standard Eight hours
Pacific Daylight Seven hours
Alaskan Standard Nine hours
Alaskan Daylight Eight hours
Hawaiian Standard Ten hours

Had a good passage making night but not such a good sleep night. Slapping swells again... I spoke with the crew on a 80' fishing trawler on its way to Hawaii. I kept trying to tell them a little bit about me but they didn't understand. It was still nice to talk to them. The evenings are so beautiful out here. It is still warm (85 degrees) and the sky is clear (sometimes) and there are the most amazing stars.
The wind was a bit light today which made steering harder for the vane. I spent a lot of time checking the battery connections and following wires to try to figure out why my solar panels seem to not be charging as well. There were a few loose connections that I tightened up but nothing much else.
Spoke with home today. My new computer arrived thanks to all the great sponsors who have given to help support my journey. It is a Panasonic Toughbook 52. It is one of the most durable laptops made these days. I'm looking forward to the safety of having 2 systems on board again. Mom and Dad will bring it to Oahu when they fly out next week.
I am about 550 miles from Oahu. The wind is good for the next few days but looks to be getting lighter after that. Trying not to stress about that. Have been studying up on my arrival around Diamond Head in Honolulu.
It was suggested that I use some of my rubbing alcohol from my first aid kit for the alcohol stove. Does anyone know if this is really OK? I don't want to burn up my boat but tuna sandwiches are getting a little old. Please respond on a comment on the blog or at my land-based email at

Friday, July 4, 2008

Current Position (as of 9:46 PDT): 20.08N, 145.53W

It really is nice to be moving again. I have had good winds for most of the day (of course they are picking up speed this evening). The fog burns off early and it has been very warm and is still 85 degrees at 9:00 tonight. I will sleep in the cockpit because of the nice 15 knot breeze. Just put a few reefs in the main for safety during the night.

I started a new book today, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians. The book was started by Mark Twain but finished by Lee Nelson after Twain died. Huck Finn was one of my favorite books so I hope this is a good one. So far so good.

I did eat some fish today - canned tuna. It was good though. I found a few oranges rolling around the boat so that was a good find. I'll have to get 50 pounds of these before I leave Hawaii. I am making a list of things I need and a list of jobs to be done in Hawaii. Not too bad. Hopefully there will be time to rest and see a bit of Oahu before I take off for the Marshalls.

I hope you all had a fun 4th. I was remembering my last 4th of July spent with friends at the beach and then back to watch fireworks from the roof. It would be nice to be home but it is really very nice out here. It is quiet and peaceful and Intrepid has become my home at least for now.


Thursday, July 3, 2008


Current Position (as of 9:12pm PDT): 19.40N, 143.43W

Well, I guess I'm back to writing about canned soup. No hurricanes, ships or flying fish today. I did have a good night sleep without the ships and with the light winds. It is getting warmer even though it is still overcast. I wore nothing but shorts all day. This is nice after weeks of wearing layers and foul weather gear.
I've had some trouble with my Link 2000 system today. This unit monitors all the power usage and charging on the boat. It isn't registering properly so I'm not sure how much power I'm down. I'm not in any danger. I have a pretty good idea of how much power I have used and how much charge I get each day from the wind and sun. I will try to reset it in the morning and see if that helps.
I did see one small, white bird with a long tail today. Can't seem to find my tackle box. I'll have to dig around tomorrow to find it as I lost my lure today. I did manage to eak out enough alcohol for my stove to heat up a nice dinner tonight.
Dug through the chart desk today looking to see which charts of Hawaii I have. I do have two sets of electronic charts and a good guide book; Charlie's Charts to the Hawaiian Islands. Thanks to a family friend, Rob Jordan, I have been welcomed in to port in the Waikiki area of Oahu. Yes, I will make a much needed stop for some minor repairs, reprovisioning and a hot shower! It will be a very short stay as I need to keep moving but I am looking forward to it all the same. As soon as I set my sails on the new course, Intrepid took off! I think she wants to stop too! My winds are still pretty light at 8-10 knots but with the new wind angle I am doing what seems like howling along at 5 knots!
Have been studying up on Hawaii, especially the Pilot Charts of the area. Pilot Charts show the prevailing weather patterns-- wind, currents, wave heights, visibility, surface pressure, sea surface temperature, etc. for any given area in the worlds oceans by month. You can use these for passage planning to know where there should be wind and should not be storms or counter currents. The ClearPoint forecast shows the winds filling in nicely over the next 2 days. Will speak to meteorologist, David Morris, tomorrow for the bigger picture.
For now, all looks very promising.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ships, hurricanes and flying fish

Current Position (as of 9:30pm PDT): 19.51N, 142.10W

Finally, something besides Top Ramen to write about!

First, the hurricanes...tropical storm Boris that was not expected to come to much while tropical storm Cristina was one to be watched. Then Boris became a Catagory 1 hurricane (900 miles away) and never heard about Crisitina again. Maybe Boris ate her? They were close together. Mom, Dad, David Morris and I were up late strategizing how to procede since I had little wind and Boris was moving along at 10 knots. The plan was made to continue in a southwest direction, pick up the slowly reestablishing trades and sail west ahead of Boris. Then before bed, Boris became a tropical storm again. By breakfast time he was a hurricane again! But not to worry becasue he is a tropical storm again and appears to be winding down.

Second, the ships...three of them today. All appearing to be on course with me which meant no nap and spending the afternoon watching big ships, who won't answer me on the VHF radio, pass slowly by. Yes, there was one large white smoking ship today that was going 6 knots! The trouble with the ships today was that one of them, an oil tanker, did not activate the AIS ship radar. This device is made specifically to pick up a signal sent through the VHF radio of all commercial shipping vessles. The ship shows up on the screen but more importantly the AIS has an alarm feature that sounds when ships enter a preset range so that you can keep an eye on them. Why this ship didn't activate the AIS alarm I will probably never know but it taught me an invaluable lesson. Though it is tempting to turn off the second radar alarm at night to conserve power, it should never be done.

Lastly, flying fish...a wonderful sight to see. These foot long fish have wings and literally fly through the air at least 100 yards. I think my boat was scaring them because they were flying all around me! My mom mentioned that they can become a pain when they start to land on the deck and die and smell. My dad suggested eating them by I already have plans for anyone of them who dares to fly aboard the Intrepid. Bait. With all the ships and dealing with techinical issues today, I didn't have time to fish.

The wind should be here in a 'few days'. Sound familiar? Many seasoned sailors have told me about the new definition of patience that is learned by long distance sailing. I think I'm getting it. I am excited to have the winds nearby. There is some talk of heading into Hawaii but we'll see how the next few days go.

Thanks for checking in.



Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Out of alcohol!

Photo ©2008

Current Position (as of pm PT): 20.36N, 140.31W
I know what you're thinking, "Isn't he under 21?" Yes I am and I am almost out of alcohol. For my alcohol burning stove. The extra alcohol was left in the dock box at the marina. My evening soup was warmed over a flickering flame even though I had pumped it up completely. I do have a microwave and the power to use it occasionally. But the terriyaki tuna just won't be the same in the microwave.
Another slow day today. I had about 7 knots of wind and so averaged 3.5 knots of boat speed. The sun broke through for most of the day so all in all it was bearable. In addition to my usual routine I did some sit ups and push ups today. I also did more cleaning and organizing. I pulled out all of my vitamins and vitamin shakes. I'll start taking these more regularly as I am running lower on fresh food.
Tropical storm Boris became a Catagory 1 Hurricane earlier today but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm once again. From meteorologist David Morris, "Even if Boris does surprise us, and holds together longer than it should, Zac should be well out of harm's way and sailing faster toward the Marshall's by Friday." It has been a great thing to have David on board checking out the weather and guiding me through the past few weeks of flukey weather. I still rely a lot on my ClearPoint Weather program. The amount of information I can get realtime is amazing. My parents and Dave are running copies of it as well so we can talk about it together along the way.
So again I wait for 'a few days'. Considering the alternative of getting too close to a hurricane I am happier to be stuck for a time in these lighter winds.
No, Mikayla, I haven't seen any dolphins yet. Tell everyone to keep praying!
Check out this link to an article by Pete Thomas at the LA Times.

A note from Mom:

Hello all you wonderful people! First, I must say that your support of Zac has been a major source of encouragement for all of us. Thank you! Second, if you are looking to find Zac's position on a map, there is a Route page on his website . Under the map there is a link to Google Earth where Bandacorp, our web site host, graciously plots Zac's course everyday. Enjoy!