Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lake Indian Ocean

OK, so sorry for not blogging but there has been a lot to do the past few days. Being incredibly hot and sweaty makes it hard to get going. My email is backed up from the time after PNG when I wasn't able to receive them. I can only pick up so many per week and right now I have a backlog of over 200 emails! Right now it is about 8:000pm and there is about 3 knots of wind which is barely enough to keep the boat moving in the right direction. There is no swell so the sea looks like a calm lake. Not much happened today. I passed some oil platforms and a couple of ships, one of which came within a half of a mile of me. I contacted him on the radio and he already knew where I was so it was safe. Later in the afternoon I was doing something on deck and I saw a big white shape under the water. As I looked closer I saw that it was a shark. Not just one shark, I was in a school/pod of them! They weren't like the friendly Pacific dolphins that play around the boat. They were off after a couple of minutes. I guess I'll add that to my list of reasons not to swim at sea. I had been actually contemplating swimming because of how hot it is though I probably would not have done it.
So I guess everyone wants to hear about the Torres Strait. Here you go...I had just gotten off the phone with Mike Smith (Team Zac electrician extraordinaire). We were trouble shooting my AIS radar that for some reason wasn't working right. I set my phone down on the top companionway step and opened the Pelican case where I always keep it. Before I put it in, the drag on my fishing pole started screaming. I ran up top to real in the fish. The fish ended up snapping the line and when I went down below I saw the sat phone had fallen into the galley sink into a bowl of oil. Why was there a bowl of oil in my galley sink? The mechanics from Papua New Guinea were supposed to dispose of it but were not able to. I was to get offshore and dump it. Only 1/4" of the upper corner of the phone had touched the oil. I wiped it off with a paper towel and called Mike back to tell him that I had to deal with some issues on the boat and that I would call him back in the morning. Then I took the phone apart and saw that a fair bit of oil had gotten inside. I wiped it off the best I could and put the phone in rice over night to draw out the moisture. In the morning I put the phone back together and turned it on. It went okay and I entered the pass code. It came up with a message that said 'Phone Failure See Supplier'. That was really helpful since the nearest supplier was the best part of 10,000 miles away. I tried for awhile to get the phone working again but it was no use. I think I probably made it worse. The slapping against hand technique etc... Then I fired up the computer but for some reason it wasn't working either. I did manage to get an email out to mom and dad after a hundred attempts just to let them know that all was well with me and the boat.
The next day I got on the Rag on the Air Net and make contact with the people out of Majuro. They were able to relay with my parents back home. I had no idea what my parents had been through and that they were about to call on Australian Search and Rescue.
As I was getting closer to the Torres Strait, I managed to get a few way points that had been stuck on the computer before the screen died. Not sure how but the back light of the computer screen had stopped working. I went to use the other computer but water had dripped on the keyboard and I couldn't type in my password. With no comms except the SSB, I kept in touch with everyone through the guys from Moana and Majuro. I spent the few days before the Torres Strait with light winds and was able to study the passage guide again. The night before I got to the entrance at Bramble Cay, the wind picked up to about 20-25 knots so I reefed down and entered the Strait under sail. I arrived at Bramble Cay, the entrance to the Torres Strait, at about 4:00am. I never did see the light and there was a lot of fog. That was the first of many surprises in he Torres Strait. Stay tuned for part 2 of Zac sails the Torres Strait!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

just thought I'd check in before bed and am I ever glad! love reading your stories and hearing your sense of humor shine through!! keep up the great work Zac! everyone here loves hearing from you!!

Vancouver, BC!

October 1, 2008 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Your writing was so descriptive,Zac. I didn't want it to end! Can't wait for part two! How frustrating it must have been to lose your contact with everyone, but thank goodness you have backups! And thank goodness for your friends in Majuro, to relay your whereabouts! Your little missing in action episode was a nail biter!!

I hope that you get some wind soon. But not to sound to selfish, the calm sea will give you some time to write your next chapter about the Torres Straits!

Thank you for taking the time to write. We missed your blogs.

Take care of you, we all think you are doing a great job!

Hugs and Prayers!

North Hills, CA

October 2, 2008 at 1:19 AM  
Anonymous Troy Brimm said...


Tell me, when you are being tossed around like a bobber in the Southern Sea, how much you loathed Lake Indian Ocean!

All joking aside... I am riveted by your every move. I get to experience my own dream of sailing the seas, albeit vicariously, through your writings.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who feels that way. (Go Zac Pac!)

While you were refitting Intrepid, I was creating a company that would channel to charity the sales commission from online shopping; and I needed one charity, a "guinea pig" of sorts to test the concept.

You, my mariner friend are that special rodent.

Shameless Plug

My company, GiftClix, has given you a website (pens everyone):

It's like a Zac shopping mall with over 100 top-brand stores inside. The best part is that, since it's your mall, you'll get 90% of the sales commission anytime anyone shops online at one of the stores on your GiftClix website.

(People, if you're like me, you've shopped online recently. Heck, I spent around $450 online last month in purchases for personal and business, all through Zac's GiftClix website.)

Fellow readers: Zac has earned our respect, and he deserves our financial support to make history. You can do that without a penny out of pocket if you use Zac's GiftClix site to do your online shopping. (Though feel free to contribute cash money via the "Donate" button!)

Over 100 of your favorite brands are Zac's GiftClix sponsors, including Walmart, Office Depot, Enterprise, iTunes, PetSmart, and Blockbuster.

Please check it out. You'll be helping fund Zac's (Incredible) World Adventure, and you'll be helping me from your feedback and comments how to make GiftClix an exciting way for charities everywhere to raise funds.

End Shameless Plug

Zac and his Dad have the same penchant for suspense don't you agree? Stay tuned for Part 2??? Arrrgh.

Troy Brimm
GiftClix, Inc.

October 2, 2008 at 2:21 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Arrrgg matey~~We'll be waitin' fer the rest 'o the story 'bout the great ship goin' thru the Torres Strait!

Seriously though, I hope you get a nice breeze to cool you off and keep you moving along.

I hope you are making good meals while you have calm waters!

Are you learning to play that didgeridoo? Maybe that's what called the sharks! You might have to learn to play 'The Promise'(The Dolphin Song) by Olivia Newton John. :-)

Be safe~~

October 2, 2008 at 3:13 AM  
Anonymous rory gogan singapore said...

A quick dip should be O.K.. U need to stay refreshed. Are U back fishing yet? U should be able to catch some mahi mahi. Cook em up up while the sea is quiet.

October 2, 2008 at 3:17 AM  
Blogger Daryl said...

It's great to get back to the fun reading! I'll eagerly look forward to part 2 of Zac sails the Torres Strait!

from Iowa

October 2, 2008 at 4:53 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Zac, always good to hear from you! I'm sorry the winds are not being nice to you, but hopefully it won't be long 'til you're clipping along nicely to Cocos Keeling.

Yeah, there was a time there when your family and The Pack were quite nervous. The phrase, "Hi, mum, I'm OK" has kind of entered The Pack's lexicon... :)

Looking forward to the further tales of the Torres passage! Stay safe, and stay hydrated!


milford, ohio

October 2, 2008 at 5:32 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

A shower on deck with a bucket sounds a lot healthier than a little swim around the boat:-)
You should pic up some wind real soon

October 2, 2008 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Cell phone in rice. How ingenious!

Santa Monica

October 2, 2008 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Zac, you are one of the few people I know that has also experienced fog and strong winds at the same time...

Typically, if it's windy, there isn't fog, but twice in my life I experienced strong winds and fog at the same time, neither time was I in serious danger largely because I was in familiar waters, but it still was a bit dicey…

Can’t imagine how you felt ENTERING the Torres Straits with 25kts AND fog!

Looks like light winds for a while, but appears that it will step up a bit and turn more southerly which will help having a port wind vs. stern, but the forecast I see looks light to moderate for a while. Strong winds start right before and AFTER Cocos-Keeling, sigh.…

Stay as cool as you can…

Daveh & Skipper

October 2, 2008 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

I loved the "percussive maintenance" technique. I'm a mechanic, and I've used that successfully in the past, but it isn't a reliable fix.

You reminded me of a story. I've never been in the Navy (diabetics aren't good enough, but I'm not bitter) but friends of mine who have been have relayed the story that, although Naval ships all have the latest electronic navigation and communication systems, and in amazing redundancy, Naval navigators are still required to learn celestial navigation. Many of them complain and wonder why, when it's so much less accurate than the GPS systems, but your tale is an excellent example of why. It would seem that Mr. Midshipman Murphy takes his watch at the most unfortunate monents.

Still praying for you daily Numbers 6:24-26
Mouse in Whittier

October 2, 2008 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

@ Mouse on a Motorcycle -

I would contend that the primary reason for the Navy teaching new sailors/crewmen celestial nav is in preparation for an event where the GPS satellites were to be disabled...

I have 2 GPS’ (helm and nav station) a hand-held that works with my Nobeltech Chart Software, Paper charts and all of their tools and I’m probably a C- on a sextant (laughing)… Wish I could say I was at least a B on the sextant, but my nose would grow…

Good luck!


October 2, 2008 at 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Eric Crossley said...

Zac, Great stuff! I am not a shark fan and that kind of thing is a little scary. I think you are right about swimming in the ocean being a bad idea. It must be very tempting, but the risk is too great. Thanks again for the stories, Murphy's Law sometimes rules. Stay cool, it's really getting to be fall here in Maryland, the most lovely time of year!

October 2, 2008 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Loved Torres Strait Part I, can't wait to read Part II.
Sail Safe,
Tucson, AZ

October 2, 2008 at 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear from you Zac! It's like reading a great book. Can't wait for part two!
Continuing to pray...

Sherman Oaks, CA

October 2, 2008 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl in San Diego said...

Hi Zac,
I loved Part One, can't wait for Part Two! Your comment about 'the slapping hand technique' made me laugh especially since I have lost two DVD's following that procedure!
Zac I believe the sharks you saw in the water were a reminder to you from our Father to STAY OUT OF THE WATER while underway!
I hope and will pray that your winds pick up soon.

October 2, 2008 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Hiya Zac!!!

Sharks....gulp!!! While in Tasmania, I was sailing my friend Stephen's Laser off Kingston Beach. The winds were just right, 12-15 knots, the sailing was excellent..........but the thought of "ole Jaws" kept creeping into my head! After about 20 minutes I couldn't take it anymore and headed for shore! Sharks scare me more than any other creature!! DO NOT GO INTO THE WATER :0

Can't wait for part 2!! You're a very good writer....the book of your adventure promises to be a great read!!

@ Mouse:"percussive maintenance" LOL good one :)

Hope the winds fill in soon for you. Until then try to relax, eat some good food and go with the flow; and since you have some extra time, floss! :)

God Speed
Captain SV Wombat
Waterloo, NY USA

October 2, 2008 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger STEVE B said...


Great to hear from you. I would love to have seen your face when you A) lost the fish!, B) pulled the phone out of the oil, C) couldn't get the e-mail to work, D) couldn't get the keyboard to type. If that had been me I would have been afraid of using the head that day.

I wondered if you were taking a swim off of the boat on your slow days.

Hang in there!

Birmingham, AL

October 2, 2008 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man I agree with Daveh. Fog and 25 knot winds in the torres strait? That is amazing. Glad that you are going strong. You have to take the good with the bad as they say.

Take care my friend
Chris Carnaghi
Alhambra, CA

October 2, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Topper Urtale said...

Great post Zac, look fwd to pt 2. Hope to hear of some good winds.

daveh, is there anything you haven't done, seen, experienced, to a greater extreme than everyone else?

by the way, that was a rhetorical question.

October 2, 2008 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

@ topper urtale -

There's a lot that I haven’t seen or done that others have, in particular Zac, at 16 has me whipped in many ways, e.g. fog, 25kts, strange passage… cRaZy!!!!

I do consider myself fortunate though, but don’t take anything for granted, for sure wasn’t born with a silver-spoon, but have worked hard for my copper spoon (laughing)…

Most of the stuff that I experienced I did between 29 and 39, for Zac, heck, it’s amazing, at 16, I was CLUELESS at 16…………

Not only would my parents not have trusted me….. ME wouldn’t have trusted me…


October 2, 2008 at 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Zac:

In addition to becoming a "master mariner", you have also become very good with the 'cliff-hanger' ... and tune tomorrow to find out what happens to our hero as he battles the forces of evil. Not to worry, dude, we'll be here looking for Part 2.

Sharks are the scariest things in the world as far as I'm concerned. (Even scarier than Sarah Palin!) Don't go into the water!! Just pour a bucket of seawater over your head as you sit in the cockpit. It's evaporation will cool you and you're less likely to be eaten!

Still Looking for Chapter 2


October 2, 2008 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hey Zac,

Sorry to hear the sharks were circling you! Maybe they knew you were hot and could smell your perspiration. They could have been hoping you would give in and take a swim. Then they could have had a Zacburger.

Can you lower a bucket into the water and then dump it over you to cool down? Anyway stay on board!

You never hoped for a lake sailboat. I hope the weather will change in your favor soon.

Thanks for part I of The Saga of the Torres Strait. I want to hear the part about how your parents thought you were way off course, and possibly on a reef. I hope you can tell that part.

Sorry to hear about all your equipment issues. I hope it wasn't your new Panasonic Toughbook that went down. You just got it!.

Zac, we are all praying for some wind. In the meantime I hope you can cool down. No matter the conditions, I can't be more thrilled you are moving along. You take care of yourself. Okay?

Best regards,

October 2, 2008 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


@Topper Urtale

Your question re daveh's experiences may have been rhetorical, but many of us will consider it rude.

You're obviously a newbie on Zac's blog; otherwise, you would know that daveh has been a long time participant and that has beneficial to many of us without open water experience and an extensive nautical vocabulary. His explanations in many areas have shown brevity and clarity -- and has been completely unjudgemental! In othe words, he is one of us. Who are you?! Mr. Manners you ain't.

The Croaker

October 2, 2008 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Hi Zac,

Thanks for the great read on Torres Strait. It must have been very frustrating for you with all the problems occurring all at once.

Please don't go for a swim! It makes us nervous just thinking about the sharks circling Intrepid.

Looking forward to Part 2 of Torres Strait. In the meantime, we're praying for wind to take you safely to Cocos. Take care and God speed.

Dick & Gin

October 2, 2008 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Tomi said...

Hmmm, a shark school..., "where's my spears & triple tethers?". Sounds like fresh dinner to me, but then one has to have the strength of Goliath to pull one of them puppies on board before the rest of the school eats it. Just watch out for the mouth, it can still snap after it's dead. The teeth are good long lasting jewelry tho'.

I wonder, did Lady Marianne locate a decent solar oven for you? Lop off a medium slab, marinade it overnight, then pop it in for a few hours. Add some veggies, maybe a tater or two & wallah! A great dinner (tho' I prefer it loaded down w/garlic & some basil while baking in olive oil)! Wait a few years & you can add a nice young Zinfindel w/Carla ;)

As always a GREAT post Capt. Ditto to the previous positive posts.

So, did Lord Laurence bring you your books? All this "down time" is good for getting more book education under your tethers/belt.

A salt water bath sounds heavenly, just watch out for them jellies, stings/itches worse than a blasted ray.

Looking forward to your next entry, (why do I get this feeling it's gonna be more than a 2-parter?).

Stay safely tethered, tight sails & hoping for a good steady wind at your aft.


October 2, 2008 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Fulgum said...

Ahhhhhhhhh!!! Just when the story was getting exciting!!!!!


You're a natural storyteller, Zac. I loved everything you wrote about Torres Strait. Can't wait to hear the rest of it!

Hope you get some wind, and cooler weather, soon! What you're going through sounds a little bit like "Waterworld." It was a terrible movie but the situation sounds the same. At least you will hit dry land soon enough! (Go to Cocos Keeling!)



October 2, 2008 at 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep going Zac!

Chris - ARS: KB6FYG
San Clemente, CA.

October 2, 2008 at 11:03 PM  
Anonymous JiffyLube said...

Zac, what you might want to do is copy or transfer your way points and routes to your back up GPS. When I preplot on my laptop using Maptech, I transfer a copy of my route to my back up GPS. If I have a problem with my laptop, I have the exact same route on my back up GPS. My plotter is my main navigation tool, but my same exact route is on my back up GPS too.

The doldrums are no fun especially when it's hot, but it does give you more time to rest up, and do those jobs that require a stable environment.

I know after seeing those sharks you're not going to play shark bait, and if you get that hot pour a pail of sea water on yourself. Wipe off with some fresh water afterwards, so the salt water doesn't dry your skin out.

October 2, 2008 at 11:04 PM  
Anonymous JiffyLube said...

Does anyone know how to get rid of those large X's on the Google Earth track of zac? Those large X's obscure all the detail under them, and I can't make out any detail of the area.

October 2, 2008 at 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Zac, It's funny I've recently read your story in a magazine and had tonight the honor and privilege to hear the story from your parents who came to my restaurant.They were just communicating with you on the phone and telling me the wind was not in your favor...well it will pick up and get you where you want to go!What an amazing "man" you are and admiration spread all over the world I just want to wish all the best in this long journey and will try to show my support in anyways I can.You keep going "skipper"and as they say in French "Bon vent et Bonne mer!"
Serge Bonnet/Cafe Provencal/Thousand Oaks

October 2, 2008 at 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm wondering that given the critical nature of both nav and comms gear (eg Sat phone)why you only have single sets of each. Sure you can navigate via sextant if the GPS etc fails but given the remote nature of your locations I think I would be looking at double sets of critical nav and comm components.


October 3, 2008 at 8:33 PM  

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