Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Return to Port Moresby

Thursday September 4, 2008

The faulty oil pressure sensor inside the engine turned out to be the problem. The guys at Lohbergers didn't have the exact one for my engine so they had to machine the one they had to fit my engine. Everything was running well so I got everything prepped to go. Martin gave me a hand with decommissioning my dingy. I said my goodbyes and checked out of the yacht club. Around 4:00pm I dropped the mooring and headed out into the bay. It was blowing a good 25 knots, gusting higher and right on the nose so progress was slow. The way out of the port is a bit tricky at the best of times with two large reefs and lots of shipping. As I headed out I had to dodge a tug towing a barge. Right as I got past it the engine stopped dead! I tried to start it again with no success. So now it's blowing 27 knots blowing me on a reef about half a mile away. I spun the boat around, pulled out the genny and turned back toward the yacht club about 2 miles a way sailing in between massive container ships all the while trying to make enough up wind progress to clear the reef. It was tricky but I was managing OK tacking back and forth in 25s and 30s so I ran down below and called the yacht club for a tow in. Their guys had gone home and it was going to be 30 mins before I could be towed in. I had to kill time tacking back and forth in between ships trying to stay away from the the patches with sunken ships that were only a few feet beneath the surface but invisible til you're right on top of them. After about of 20 minutes of tacking around off the mouth of the yacht club the guys came out and towed me back into a mooring. I got my dinghy out, set it all up and went in for dinner at the club. I got back to the boat for a good sleep - all the stress is exhausting. This morning I've been working with some mechanics to drain my tank and hook out whatever is inside.
BTW, the 'G' shirt I was wearing was from the highschool that I played football for for 2 years - Grace Brethren.

Note from mom: As of this post, Zac is still in Port Moresby slowly dealing with the fuel and tank inspections. He may leave today (it is still afternoon in PNG) but may have to wait until tomorrow. The gale winds have died down to a mellow 10-15!


Blogger rbwilson said...

...trying to stay away from the the patches with sunken ships

I'm so glad you didn't join them! Excellent clear-headed response to your engine problem! I suggest a THOROUGH checkout before you get close to a reef again!

Best of luck,

Bob Wilson/Laguna Niguel

September 3, 2008 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Rory Gogan Singapore said...

WOAH...Sounds like U were multitasking on steroids!!
Well done. U stayed kool when it got ugly.
Very smooth! I like it!!!!

September 3, 2008 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger KATE said...

One must be really patient to be a sailor, just think of all those engine schematics and trouble shooting you are learning. I'll bet you want to get going in the worst way right now but the weather sounds like it is not cooperating either.
I always say things happen for a reason, and turning around was the smart thing to do. Sometimes sitting tight in a less than desirable place is the right thing to do.

BTW to those who want to know about the politics of PNG, the CIA Factbook is a good place to start.
Most of the violence is, again, between divergent political parties, primarily centered on one of the other smaller islands in the chain. Although I am sure there is plenty of petty criminal activity, it is a poor country. New Guinea is pretty much virgin territory, a lot has not been explored.
Hope your day improves, weather flattens a little and the nightmare of the shipping lanes is brief, but my god, you are managing it so well. We are all so proud of you. Hang in there!

September 3, 2008 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...

Zac, you are an astounding sailor and a very mature man. I've had confidence in this adventure from the beginning and the tougher things get, the higher you elevate my confidence.

I once heard someone say, "Never judge a book by the cover. There are 15 year old men out there and even more 50 year old boys running loose." Think about it. You are the personification of that bit of wisdom.

Keep your head on tight,

The Croaker

September 3, 2008 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger James said...

Hey Zac… Illegitimi non carborundum… Don’t let them grind you down, so to speak…

It’s likely a good thing you found the problem right away… Back for the fix and another good meal… things could be worse…

Better to sail on with all in order…

Good winds and safe sailing, Zac…

Jim - Redwood Man
Boulder Creek, CA

September 3, 2008 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Donn said...

You are really becoming wise with your experiences.

Great Job, Zac.

September 3, 2008 at 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

woohoo the Zacenator! Nice Job and excellent post recounting your events!! Thanks for sharing your days with us! Glad you made it back in time for the dinner hour! Cheers to the next attempt and I'm really hoping that your engine can be fixed properly.

ps... if any Yanmar dealers are reading.. maybe hop a quick flight down to PM to ensure our Zac has a properly working Yanmar engine!

hugs! B.

pps... reading a fantastic book everyone! it's called "A Voyage For Madmen" by Peter Nicholls... 9men decide (in the mid-late '60's) to circumnavigate the world! it was soon called the Golden Globe award for the first to complete and a second award for doing it the fastest and thus the beginnings of what is now called the "Vendee Globe" (starting in Nov 2008)!!! An excellent true story with history about these 9 men, not all were skilled in sailing and none had the electronics of course, that our Zac has, but what a great book so far! I just picked it up at my local library! Excellent! enjoy, if you get the chance.

Brenna C.

September 4, 2008 at 12:17 AM  
Blogger Uncle Hectic said...

Whoa! I bet that was pretty scary. I'm glad you're such a good sailor.

September 4, 2008 at 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Zak..

Dusty Way here.. If I were you, I would make sure there is nothing in your fuel tank that could clog up your fuel pick up.. You could pull the pick up out and blow through it from the top side to see if there is a clog... Bet it's a clog some where... A faulty alarm will not stop a running engine... Could be alot of things, sure hope you don't leave with out a for sure fix.. All the best, Dusty

September 4, 2008 at 3:08 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

It sounds as if Zac believes he has dirty fuel...

As you all know, this is one of the tougher problems to solve 100%. I wouldn't filter the fuel in the tank... Toss the crap out, drain the lines, etc...

Washed the tank out with bleech water, let it dry for a day, then add new fuel...

I doubt if PNG is a place to setup a duel in-line fuel filter setup, each one isolated so he could switch them out for changing the filter... Maybe in Darwin?

Good luck Zac..... At this point, it's goign to be difficult for you to feel confident about that engine.... Running it in neutral when you can will help build up your confidence in it...

The stress in that is horrible, can't relax, can't sleep, wondering if it will work when you need it the most, etc...


September 4, 2008 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger Berry Blog said...

One of your followers emailed me with more info about the area. I will be glad when you get out of there and into safer waters. Your friends in Maine are praying for your safety. You seem to have very supportive friends and that's a relief. I am amazed at your courage and patience with these mechanical problems. I know-I know..what else can you do? So admire your quick calm thinking in that harrowing bay with its underwater traps and unyielding traffic.

September 4, 2008 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Ack, Zac... Sorry to hear about this. But you at least got to have some fun while waiting for the tow back in... :) Seriously, better to hit a problem where you did than in the midst of Torres - though the Port Moresby yacht club does sound like a challenge... I hope you can get underway again soon and this time without issues so you can pass Torres with no difficulties, other than the Strait itself that is...

To Barry Blog: I sent some info regarding your question - I'm including it here just to see if I've figured out the HTML requirements for this comment area:

Info on PNG from Oz FAT Site
Info on PNG from OSAC Site

Hope that works, else it will be messy...


Milford, Ohio

September 4, 2008 at 5:08 AM  
Blogger Daryl said...

There is no way fiction could be more exciting or nerve-wracking than this stuff! Amazing! Zac is amazing too, of course. Go Zac! Go!

from Iowa

September 4, 2008 at 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Sam, NC said...

Well done, Zac! That's sailing! Relaxing enjoyment interspersed with periods of pure hysterical panic! Way to keep cool when you needed to most!

September 4, 2008 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Zac & Everyone,

I can tell you had a stressful day just trying to get out. I'm sure it's a uneasy feeling seeing sunken ships right below you. It sounds like you handled this situation like a captain with 40 years of experience. Great going Zac.

Make sure everything with the engine checks out fine before attempting to leave again. I'm sure you're anxious to get on your way to Darwin but you must leave with the engine running well. Hopefully everything will check out fine and you'll be on your way out again very soon.

I wore the Zac t-shirt twice over the long weekend. I even wore it to the final summer concert at Burton Chace Park in MDR last Saturday evening. Listing to live music, watching the water bus, enjoying great company, and seeing all those yachts floating by all around the park was an incredible evening. I even remembered the exact location your boat was docked at the day you left. Can't wait to see you entering again and placing you feet back on the wooden docks.

Take care getting out and make sure that engine runs well before leaving. Great call to just turn around and head back.

Sail On,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

September 4, 2008 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hi There Zac...

Well Zac, your maturity is showing again! Great example of keeping a clear head and evaluating your situation quickly and handling it as it comes to you. It will all make a good chapter in your book. Hope by the time you get this you will be out of there and back on your way. Prayers going up for you.
Better times are right around the corner!

September 4, 2008 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Trials, trials, trials! Oye!

You sound like you're keeping your head. I continue to be impressed by your strength and comittment!

Hang in there.

Santa Monica

September 4, 2008 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger Joy on Journey said...

DANG! YIKES! I get exhausted just reading about it, Captain. Glad you had a clear head for those decisions and maneuvers. Get everything straight - before the Strait!

False starts happen, too. Nice recovery.


September 4, 2008 at 6:42 AM  
Anonymous Linda said...

Hi Zac,

Wow, what an account of your attempt to leave PNG....very descriptive.

Perhaps the timing wasn't right and now that the weather has calmed down, it might be a better time to depart.

Best to you. You are always in our prayers and thoughts.

Bill and Linda
Washington DC

September 4, 2008 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger STEVE B said...

An extended stay in PNG. I would like to have seen your face when the engine quit and hope you turned off any open mic's on the boat when it didn't restart. Glad that the yacht club has security and you're able to get a good sleep. You are a great ambassador no matter what shirt you are wearing. I know that you are inspiring those you meet on your trip just as much as you are inspiring the Zacpac. Glad you are able to face the obstacles in your path and overcome the difficulties. I really appreciate the fact that you take time to post updates with all that you have going on.

Birmingham, Alabama

September 4, 2008 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Glen said...

Hi ZAC & Everyone…

Hey Zachary, what a bad luck you have with this engine, but I have “FE” on YOU to solve this problem like the rest of the BLOGGERS. It was very stressfully your return to the port, sorry to heard that… What about you hand? It’s going closing your scar?
I wish you the best and I hope when you read this post you are out of port and doing what are you doing BEST, (living your dream sailing around the world).
See around boy..


September 4, 2008 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hey Zac,

Very smart, although exhausting to go back into port to get the engine running properly. Even though you faced so many obstacles, it was far better then getting into the Torres Strait and then find out your engine is still acting up.

As usual you made a smart and mature decision, showing you are the right young man for this journey.

Also, glad you went for a meal and sleep. To important needs, for when your ready to leave again.

Hang in there buddy, and know that from your words you are showing that you are doing exactly the right things in this journey.

Praying for you,

September 4, 2008 at 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

Hi Zac.
Great job handling that situation. It's not a good thing to be between the big ones and limited room to manover. It shows that you have everything thrown at you under control. I once crossed Rotterdam main shipping channel in thick fog but with the radar assistance of Rotterdam pilot. That was interesting to say the least.

September 4, 2008 at 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl in San Diego said...

Frightening! Well done, Zac, to say the least.
I do not know very much about engines, however I had the same problem with my relatively new Yanmar 35hp in our Hunter 36. It would just STOP at the most inopportune times. Finally the mechanic at Two Harbors in Catalina figured it out. First the fuel tank needed to be polished (cleaned) and second the real problem...the fuel filter was too small. It just clogged very easily. He installed a new oversized filter (he said it would stop a Volkswagen and keep going).
Once completed the problem never occurred again.
I hope it is that simple of a solution for you as well Zac.
Zac you have really been tested the last few weeks and have passed with flying colors as they say!!

September 4, 2008 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger James said...

Hey Zac… Illegitimi non carborundum… Don’t let them grind you down, so to speak…

It’s likely a good thing you found the problem right away… Back for the fix and another good meal… things could be worse…

Better to sail on with all in order…

Good winds and safe sailing, Zac…

Jim - Redwood Man
Boulder Creek, CA

September 4, 2008 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

Good morning.

I meant to post a comment yesterday, but a diabetic episode intervened.

As to the repair, one of the things I've learned as a mechanic is that one problem will often just cover up another one. In a situation like yours, it's important to check all the systems, not just the one that is obviously a problem. Even going back to basics, like dirty fuel or a compression check, makes sense with an unrelated issue.

Of course, you knew that already. I'm just babbling.

Your mentioning the guard towers reminded me of friends who visited or lived in Israel. They all said that they felt safer in Jerusalem, with the armed IDF guards everywhere and folks being searched before going into restaurants and clubs than they did here in shopping malls.

Still praying for you daily. Num. 6:24-26
Still proud of your judgment.

Mouse in Whittier

September 4, 2008 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Hey Zac,
As usual I was on the edge of my seat reading your attempt to leave PNG. Thank goodness your engine decided to fail so close from port and not halfway to Darwin.
You are absolutely amazing Zac, so few people could do what you are doing.
Sending good thoughts and prayers your way everyday.
Stay safe!
Tucson, AZ

September 4, 2008 at 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Karyn in Simi said...

Sounds kinda like a pinball game with you being the ball....

Glad the problems occurred close to Port. I'm sure they will look at EVERYTHING at this point, and all will be well.

Sail on, you're amazing!

September 4, 2008 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger johnnyBgood said...

hello zac and everyone. zac, you continue to amaze me!(dare i say all of us?) i am so proud to be a supporter of your adventure and a proud member of the ever increasing ZAC PAC.
sail on, kiddo.
john baker/w hollywood/ca/USofA

September 4, 2008 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...

To Marianne & Laurence:

You two must do a book on rearing a family. It would be a revelation to know how you have steered this young man, Zac, to where he is at his age. He is not only intelligent and mature, he's wise. That comes with time and experience, but in 16 years? I'm flabbergasted at the cool headed manner in which he handled his engine problem departing POM. Most people including adults with much more experience would have panicked in his situation. Zac simply analyzes the problem, makes a (good) decision, and executes. Ho-hum, business as usual.

Zac is the first of seven and he has set the bar very high for his siblings. Will they languish in his shadow, or will they have the drive to reach for their own stars? As they witness the adulation and admiration that Zac engenders, what are you telling them?

Vive la Team Sunderland. I hope you create a website for the entire family so we could watch it evolve.

Best to all of you,
The Croaker

September 4, 2008 at 10:27 AM  
OpenID rklein said...

I am so sorry to hear that the engine problem is not yet worked out. But you managed very well with good judgment. All the best wishes for a successful repair this time.

Und immer eine Handbreit Wasser unter dem Kiel. (ask Martin about the meaning, if he is still around)

September 4, 2008 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Rats and darn Zac :(
No worries, you'll be right! Better now than in the Torres!!!
Thanks for posting, hanging on your every word!!!

Be safe and keep your cool head, seems to be working thus far!!

God speed
Anita ~_/)
Waterloo, NY USA!

September 4, 2008 at 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have incredible patience for a 16 year old. We are very impressed. Make sure all is well and then continue. Sail safe.


September 4, 2008 at 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Axel said...

@ the Zac Pac
Has anybody ever thought about day X when Zac is back in MDR. I think we need nationwide self support groups to get over the withdrawl symtoms we get when we have to live without our daily dose of Zac again. :-(


Und immer eine Handbreit Wasser unter dem Kiel

I mentioned that phrase a few times before an translated.

September 4, 2008 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Rich Norman said...

The acceptance of a tow seems very problematic. If this adventure is ultimately submitted for consideration as an actual formal "Record" the issue of "Outside assistance" may cause disqualification.

The blog posting is rather vague on some of its details. It does not seem there was a genuine emergency. The call for help sounds to have been predicated solely on convenience.

Intrepid is ultimately a "sail"boat. Its not clear that an engine malfunction, in the conditions described, should have precluded sailing back onto a mooring.

September 4, 2008 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reefs, sunken ships, and tacking in 27 knots? If that isn't an emergency, I'm not sure what is! I suppose it is difficult to determine when someone else is in an emergency situation. Ultimately, it should be up to the captain to decide.

September 4, 2008 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Hi Zac,
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to give us a very informative writeup and pics on Port Moresby. Glad you had friends who kept you safe.

Sorry to read about the problems you are having. Leaving and having to return back to PM had to be frustrating, but it's probably best for your safety. Hope you can rectify the problem and be on your way. Think of it this way, at least you had a good meal and another night of restful sleep.

Take care and God keep you safe.

Dick & Gin

September 4, 2008 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Rich Norman, all due respect, which is very little I believe, I think you're nuts. Do you sail?

September 4, 2008 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

For those of you who would like to see the video of the Sunderlands answering questions at the Tavern in Oxnard, it is ready for viewing. Technologically, it was a challenge, because the file is so large (27 minutes and 790MB). I learned that YouTube doesn't allow uploading videos over 10 minutes, so that was not an option. So, I put it on my personal website where it can be downloaded. Just be aware that the download will take a very long time. The address is Everything after the slash is case sensitive.

I would also like to add that the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been updated, and many of the questions being asked in the blog on a daily basis have already been answered there. A new link to the FAQs has been added on the Blog, on the right side under the T-Shirt photo, just below "Donate" and "Zac's Home Page."

Check them out!

Woodland Hills

September 4, 2008 at 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Axel said...

@ Rich Norman.
1. None of us was there to evaluate the situation

2. I think precaution was the word of the moment.

From what I leaned about sailing: Its always better to be careful in the beginning than hurt at the end.

Zac did the right thing as far as I can tell from the described situation.

September 4, 2008 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Rich Norman said...

I have no intention of engaging in dialog on the blog regarding the towing posting I made earlier. Anyone who wishes to discuss this may do so directly via e-mail. My address is readily available via my postings.

September 4, 2008 at 4:45 PM  
Anonymous tkhughes said...

I have sailed offshore 15K miles, raced and have tacked in 25 knots; not so easy even with a crew. Maybe a tad more discussion in addition to the encouragement would benefit Zac. Sometimes even criticism helps (i.e.; these comments seem to be too "cherry picked"). I wish him all the luck. I am 55 and at one time had aspirations to go around- alas, now I am at 9000' in Colorado!

TK Hughes

September 4, 2008 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Glen said...

Thanks Marilyn for posting the URL where can down load the Sunderland video in the Tavern in Oxnard. It’s a little heavy but its downloading fine at the moment (23%) and I think for tomorrow it gone finished.

Thanks again.


September 4, 2008 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Clay said...

If Zac got towed all the way to Darwin from PNG, then that might raise questions on assisted. Zac was towed backwards, not really assisting him with making any headway, so is that assisted, not in my opinion. What is the limit anyway. Perhaps the real challenge then is without GPS or up to date charts.

Blogers: please respect that I may be German, Dutch or even a true American, so easy on the foreign jokes Axel about the German that came to Zac's aid. Glad you didn't say anything bad about The Dutch going through Rotterdam, but Holland must have been a nice place to sail I bet.


September 4, 2008 at 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Zak...
Don't forget to look at the rubber gasket under the fuel tank inspection port for erosion... Cheers, Dusty

September 4, 2008 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Zac if you never sailed another mile of this voyage you would have already accomplished so much. But I know there is more ahead... things you will remember the rest of your life. Try to remember every moment. You are doing what many of us only dream of.

Be methodical, don't rush, use your instincts ( they are good)and have fun. Thanks for including the general public in your experience.
Fabulous parents and support team.

September 4, 2008 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Gloria Stengel said...

Just want to say I'm super proud of you Zac. I'm the mom of 3 homeschooled kids, one a 16yo boy. I will worry for you, but I know you are very capable. May you have smooth sailing!

September 4, 2008 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger tabrof said...

I'm sorry you got stuck in this terrible mess and that you have to be careful about the government where you are. So, I'm going to pray for you every night until you get your boat fixed.

September 4, 2008 at 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All,
Mom here. Just wanted to say that I have not had to reject any comments from Zac's blog since the moderation feature was initially set up.
He does have quite a few fans that are very loyal and eternally optomistic about him and his trip. I post what may seem like controversial comments because thay are interesting points and do add to the reality of this story. I have been in email contact with Rich Norman. He is as big a fan as any but was wondering about the rules of the game. No offense given and no offense taken.
Marianne Sunderland
Thousand Oaks, CA
PS. For clarifiaction: he wasn't out of the harbor and was in danger of hitting reefs and ships. If he thought he needed a tow, it was an emergency in my book. We all know that he could have sailed in under safer conditions because he sailed in upon his initial arrival.

September 4, 2008 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Glen said...


September 5, 2008 at 5:10 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

I also traded email with Mr. Norman. My complaint is simply this: If you have a factual foundation to base what came across as a "challenge" then state it - "under 'round the world rules, section5 sub-clause c, accepting a tow in hazardous conditions shall result in disqualification". If you have no such factual foundation, ask a question: "Will accepting a tow in such circumstances cause any problems with taking the record?"

I myself do not know, and as far as I could gather neither does Mr. Norman. What I do know is record or no record, the accomplishment is exactly the same, IMO.

Cheers, folks...


September 5, 2008 at 5:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Zac. I have been following your trip from the beginning. Hang in there, you are doing great. Just a thought regarding your tank/fuel issue. Just a suggestion. If at some point you are able, install a second "day tank". Run your engine from this tank. Filter your fuel from this tank through a Racor before it enters your engine. Just a 5 or 6 gallon plastic tank should give you several hours of run time. To hook everything up, Use an auto eletric fuel pump (cheap$), a simple switch to turn power off and on to your new fuel pump. Pump fuel from your main tank thru a Racor filter to your new "day tank". Just a regular outboard engine plastic fuel tank will work great. This will ensure that (1) you have clean fuel in your "day tank" and (2) that you always know the status of "clean" fuel available to you when you might need it the most. I did this to my boat after nearly losing her to dirty fuel and NEVER had an issue with fuel after that. I hope this helps. Thanks, and be safe. Capt. Ron

September 5, 2008 at 3:37 PM  

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