Sunday, November 30, 2008

Smooth Sailing & the Forstay Saga

Latest Position: 11/30/08 1547Z 26 39.814S 50 32.221E
A good day today with the winds shifting a bit but still enough to make decent headway. So far the good weather seems to be holding and the seas have been calm. I am feeling good and passing the time listening to my french language tapes, reading some and doing small jobs on the boat. I sat down to write out the end to the story of my time in the Indian Ocean when my forstay let loose.
For any who may have missed the first part of the story, I have reposted it here with the end of the story following...

Indian Ocean Trouble:

It was about 10pm and I was sailing along under genoa alone. (I have been saving the repaired boom only for necessity.) I was going between 6-7 knots in a nice 25 knot Indian Ocean trade on the aft quarter. I had just layed down in my bunk and was awake listening to the sounds of the boat working when I heard a flapping noise on deck. It sounded like a flying fish or maybe a bird so I didn't bother to check it. A minute later, the motion of the boat changed. I went up in the cockpit and saw that the gennie was way too far off the boat. At this point my night vision hadn't quite kicked in yet. I thought that maybe the furling line had snapped and it had come all the way unfurled. I switched on the spreader lights and found my gennie 15 feet from the boat held by the furling line and the sheet. It looked like a spinnaker. As I looked at it I knew that I was in for one of those adrenalin-filled sleepless nights. The first thing I did was to grab the spinnaker halyard and fasten it to the bow for mast support. So I put the furling line around the winch and fell off the wind a little to take the wind off the sail. This worked pretty well except now I had to go and wrestle a flogging genoa over the lifelines and lash it to the deck. Around 1am I finally got it lashed down on a 1/2" thick U-bolt right behind where the forstay is fastened to the deck. It was under control enough to call my dad to see if he had any advice. He called some of the riggers who had worked on Intrepid in Marina del Rey and they thought that I should loosen the aft stay to give the forstay some slack to try and reattach it. I went back up on deck to try to furl the sail and after 3 hours I got it furled to 1/4 of it's size. It was 4 am and I was getting a little too tired to be on deck so I pulled up the main with a reef in it and went to sleep....

Indian Ocean Troubles (Part II):
After the first night I had managed to partially furl the sail and secure the furler on the deck. The next morning I went to work and by sundown I had managed to completely furl the sail and got it reattached to the forward chainplate by using a couple of shackles to extend the forstay. By the end of the day it was almost as good as new and I was sailing along with full main and my patched boom. After this I had 24 hours with no problems and smooth sailing. I was able to keep up a good 6.5 knots average with about 25-30 knots behind me. This was not to last. At about 4 in the morning the following day the forstay let loose again. The nut had come loose from the bolt that was holding the furler to the shackle. With the heavy winds the sail was unfurled in no time. This time it was much crazier up on deck. I was often burying the bow of the boat in waves and it was all I could do to keep from getting thrown off. After a couple of hours I was able to get the furler lashed down to the deck but somehow during all this the forstay snapped inside the furler and had knotted itself inside. I couldn't pull down the furler or spin it. By the end of the day I had managed to get the bottom 2/3 of the sail furled but the top 1/3 was still flogging. Each time the sail filled with wind it would slam the rig. It was agonizing to watch this happening and not knowing how much more damage was being done. I had been studying the charts a couple of days prior and knew I was coming up on an Island called Rodrigues. After talking to friend and world sailor, Rob Jordan, who had been there, I decided to pull in so I could deal with pulling down my sail out of the wind. I was still 200 miles out from Rodrigues so it was back to work on deck. I was able to wrap a spinnaker halyard around the roller furler and that helped stop the top of the sail from flogging so much. That night the lines holding the furler to the deck snapped. The full weight of the top third of the sail went on the spinnaker halyard that was wrapped around it. I had had 2 lines wrapped around the sail and they both had chaffed completely through and broke. Now after I had wrapped the spinnaker halyard around the furler a couple of times I didn't have enough rope to make it back down to the deck. I clipped it on to the pulpit and now with the weight of the sail on it, the pulpit bent all out of shape in seconds. By the time I got it relashed to the deck, the pulpit was a mess and all the lifelines were slack. I was completely exhausted and though the stiuation was not good, I didn't have the strength to do anything else. I went down below for some sleep not knowing waht to expect next. In the middle of the night the wind dropped from 25-30 to 15 knots and in the morning I was able to wind shadow the genoa with my mainsail. The sail had completely stopped flogging. The seas had also calmed down a bit and it was a good quick sail into Rodrigues around 4 that afternoon. I have posted in previous blogs about my 30 hours in Rodrigues and the repairs done in Mauritius.
Now I am 1/3 of my way to Durban, South Africa out of Mauritius. I have nearly crossed my second ocean and I am officially on my way home!

PS Check out Zac's Store for the new 2009 calendar!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birthday at Sea

Latest Position: 11/29/08 1637Z 25 01.1975S 51 50.530E

OK, so today being the 29th of November on this side of the world - it is my birthday. My 17th actually. The day had finally come for me to open my presents that have traveled halfway around the world! In the box from home I got some cds, a digital camera, this awesome cake that you just have to add water and micorwave and a bunch of candy from my little brothers and sisters. My grandmas sent me a bunch of snacks like Lara Bars, nuts and beef jerky. I got a bunch of cards from friends and family. Also I was given fair winds and not quite following seas but at least they are not on the nose anymore - I have been sailing along nicely at 6 knots most of the day. I spent most of the day playing with my new camera, napping and preparing the boat for heavy winds as I am about 300 miles from my waypoint off the coast of Madagascar where the heavy weather is. So it has been a good birthday - a far cry from all the craziness of my 16th back at home but my second at sea - I had my 10th birthday heading south from Neuva Vallarta in Mexico aboard my family's boat Amazing Grace. I'm about to make my birthday cake. I'll get some more blogging done tomorrow. I am working on the rest of the story of my forstay problem which should be ready for tomorrow all being well.

My ears are better - thank you for all of the advice and ideas. I never did take any antibiotics as it seems to be clearing up on its own. I still have some symptoms but am feeling better everyday.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. It has been a good day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Latest Position: 11/28/08 0622Z 23 01.545S 54 26.934E

Spoke with Zac briefly this morning and again this evening. We passed the phone around after our Thanksgiving celebration. He is really missing some real mashed potatoes instead of his instant Costco spuds but other than that was in great spirits and looking forward to that wind (now at 12 knots on the nose) to fill in from the east. Intrepid performs optimally in 12-15 knots of wind.
On behalf Zac and the entire Sunderland family we thank you all for supporting and encouraging all of us in this endeavour. Zac's quest began as a grass roots effort by a small but growing number of local sailors, writers and photographers. If it had been solely up to our family to fund Zac's trip he may well have had to stop by now. It is amazing to realize that Zac's trip has been supported in many different ways by hundreds of individuals and small companies for nearly 6 months now!
We are truely a blessed nation to live with such freedom and affluence and comfort.
Great to take a day to stop and thank the God who gives us all good things!
Marianne & Laurence

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

Latest Position: 11/27/08 0405Z 22 15.473S 55 25.660E

The winds have been painfully light all day and night yesterday. I did have about 10-15 knots when I left Port Louis but as soon as I passed the tip of Mauritius it died and has been shifting around continually. Therefore, I have been doing a lot of hand steering. Even so, it feels great to be at sea again. Crazy how you hurry to get out of port only to be becalmed for 2 days. The forecast calls for more wind in the next day or so - should be just enough to shoot me on my way to Africa. I am still not completely well and my ears are beginning to hurt. I haven't had an ear infection since I was about 2 years old! I'm trying to rest and focus on prepping the boat for heavy weather. Michelle from Grand Baie drove down to Port Louis before I left to deliver 2 car tires for a sea anchor. They were considered to be the best sea anchors ever made by everyone at the yacht club so I am glad to have a few. Seems easier to set up and deploy than my fancy cloth sea anchor with all of its ties and strings. Not much time for typing lately I'm afraid. We'll see what to day will bring...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to Sea

Latest Position: 11/25/08 0351Z 20 35.235S 56 36.257E - 60 miles out of Port Louis, Mauritius

Greetings from the Indian Ocean!
After a hectic afternoon dealing with customs, last minute provisioning and yacht prep I pulled out of Port Louis around 4:00pm yesterday to a calm, flat sea and light wind. It was good to have a slow day to finish putting everything away and organizing things for a few weeks at sea. There were a few ships as I pulled south of Mauritius early in the evening but nothing since then. I have been warned that more and more shipping is being diverted south around the Cape of Good Hope because of the recent increase in piracy along the Red Sea/Suez Canal route. I have also heard that these vessels may be turning off their AIS systems in an effort to hide their identity from would-be pirates. The ships will still show up on my regular radar however. The first days and nights back at sea are always rough because I have to get back into power nap mode. So for now I have an easy passage even though it is slow. I'll take some time today to work on a detailed blog of my time in Mauritius and Part II of my Indian Ocean forstay situation. In case you didn't know, I am 13 hours ahead of you all on the west coast of America so as you are going to bed, I am just getting up (or at least staying up!).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mauritius - Last Days

It has been really busy here in Grand Baie. I have been invited to do so many things but I can only do so much with all of the preparations going on here. I have been seeing some of the sites around town here including a catamaran ride out to the northern islands a few days ago that was fantastic. I had dinner with the American ambassador here in Mauritius who is an avid sailor so this time I had much in common with my host! The guys here at the yacht club have been fantastic and we have hammered out most of the repairs and preparations for my next leg. I have heard many a tale of the wild seas on this next leg and so being properly prepared is paramount. David has submitted his departure forecast and all looks clear for me to take off from Port Louis (where I will check out with customs) Tuesday morning which will be your Monday night. There have been reports that I have cut short my trip or that I have postponed it for awhile but that is definitely not true. I am rested and ready to go - hoping to be in Durban, South Africa within 2 weeks. Thanks for all of the emails and comments on the blog. I wish I had more time to respond.



Note from Mom:

The 2009 calendars are finally in! They are really professionally done with some amazing photographs from Jen Edney, Lisa Gizara and Mike Smith. If you ordered one at the LA Gathering they will be shipped out this week. If you haven't ordered one yet - check them out at Zac's Store. The link is just to the right on the blog here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mauritius - Laurence

G'day to all,
It almost seems like a blur, yet during my time in Mauritius so much was accomplished and many new friends and sincere fellow sailors took a part of Zac's dream and excitment in his quest to be the youngest to solo cicumnavigate the world.

I set off with the boom tied to the top of the station wagon. It looked quite a spectical racing through LA traffic with this just over 13 ft of carefully wrapped boom strapped to the top with a little red onesie (complements of Ben) that acted as my flag for carrying cargo that sticks out over three feet behind. The ordeal of dropping the boom at British Airways cargo terminal took a little longer than anticipated but big thanks to Tim Blofeld from Midex who jumped on board and took care of all the complicated shipping details.
The trip to the UK went well and Jen was priviledged to visit a unique part of England not normally on the tourist route of overseas visitors. Lymington in Hampshire is truly one of those rare gems, on the edge of the New Forest on the coast. This is where I had the privelidge of being raised. It was a two day vist that proved to be more necessary than originally planned. Zac grandmother's bithday was a few days before we arrived. That needed to be celabrated. It was also a year since Zac's grandfather passed away. It was appropriate to celebrate his life with my step mother for it was through dad that I and in turn, Zac, inherited the passion for the ocean .

A quick call to the US to check on the family revealed what Zac had discovered at Rodrigues Island. Zac needed a new forstay and roller furling system. Fortunately, southern England is the sailing mecca that it is. Even so, I had to move quickly in order to execute the request. Nick Cox from Ocean Rigging was able to furnish the forstay, stay lock fittings and turnbukle but the roller furler proved a little more challenging. IMP were listed as the importers for Schaefer furling systems. I called Fred Cook from Shaefer Marine who furnished the 2100 fuller system at no charge. A huge thanks for their support. It did involve a drive halfway across the country which I was accompanied by Mum, Tom (stepfather) and Becky(neice). I think they were a little concerned whether I would stay awake for the drive. Jenn spent time photographing the local area of Lymington with Laura (stepmum) checkout Jens blog to see some of the photos.

The trip to the UK was short and sweet but we were on a mission and it was all too soon time to say our goodbyes and head for Heathrow Airport to catch a flight to Dubai and on to Mauritius. However we were quite loaded up with additional luggage: a furlling system is hardly somthing you tuck under your arm and go skipping through the terminals with. Oh no, spectacle number 2. We tried to off load much of our additional luggage at one of the many cargo shipping companies. When I was quoted an astronomical price, I tried to explain that I didn't want to buy the air plane, I just wanted to transport excess luggage. I knew time was running out for our departure but thought we'd try our luck with the airline we were traveling with. This proved to be the better deal by far. As we struggled with our excess luggage to the check in counter we were greeted with the you've-got-to-be-joking look. When I assured the young lady I was being quite serious she was actually rather helpful. We did not see all thatexcess luggage again until we arrived in Mauritius.

We arrived 2 days before Zac which gave me time to scope out the situation and put us in the best vantage point to achieve the goal of fixing Zac's yacht. Zac arrived at 9:30am Wednesday tired from two nights with no sleep. He pulled in to the usual reception of TV and newspaper reporters which he handles well and of course the usual formalities with customs and immigration, etc., etc. It was good to see him. He had been through a lot since I had last seen him in Darwin. A quick survey of his yacht allowed me to evaluate the extent of what Zac had been through. He had done very well to save the rig and stabilize the forstay in the adverse conditions that he had faced only days before. After dealing with the media and formalities he moved Intrepid to the La Seffren Hotel Marina where we waited for the boom to be delivered. This kept on being delayed but Phil, the manager, very kindly took us to lunch. Later in the afternoon the boom showed up with a shipping agent just to make sure it was going on a boat in transit and thus avoid paying duty.
It was decided that we should have the boat moved to Grand Baie 15 miles up the coast. Port Louis seemed to be very hustle bustle and quite congested which would only hinder progress. Zac was in agrement and after a much needed night's rest it, was agreed to move Intrepid the following day. Zac dropped the hook right in front of the Grand Baie Yacht Club where we had made contact with one of the best connected sailors, Michele DuVille. They were excited to have Zac there and eager to help. We were made to feel like family. Mauritius is a very beautiful place which reminds very much of Hawaii but in the southern hemisphere. It has a mixed cultural background. English, French and Indian make up the majority of the population. It is still connected somehow to the commonwealth.
Unfortunatly Zac and Jen both had some sort of flu that was only contageous for the under 30's - I being somehow immune. It was unfortunate we had much work that needed doing and little time. Zac would work half days before needing to rest in the afternoon which I encouraged. We needed Zac to regain strength to prep for his next leg. Michele took the main sail in to have it repaired along with the pulpit which was badly damaged. Dr. DJ worked on the boom transferring everything from the old boom to the new. We worked long and hard days. I knew my time was limited. Dr. DJ, Michele, Nicholi and Patrick helped in a huge way and they assured me that they would look after Zac after I left. Michele had built several race yachts and was about to start building a new yacht. Zac and I had the priviledge of looking at the new plans that Michelle was so enthusiastic about. I will be quite excited to see the finished yacht. Zac spoke about his many experiences at the yacht club on Friday evening. There was to be a race half way around the island the following day which we were invited to join. It was so tempting. I'm not sure if Zac was as excited about the offer. Jen put together an impressive slide show to accompany Zac's talk. It was great evening enjoyed by all.

Mauritius is truly a beautiful place with the Grand Baie Yacht Club situated in paradise. The weather seemed to be good one day and perfect the next. I struggled with my French which is commonly spoken there but I think they appreciated my effort even if they couldn't understand me some of the time. Zac is going to do another talk at the yacht club for the Junior sailing members which he seemed excited about . Zac is getting a lot better now and is starting to get excited about his next leg to Durban. Yes it comes with it's own set of challenges and Zac is well versed at handeling them. He realizes more and more that his preparation is crutial for his safety.

The reason this trip seemed like blur is because we are so busy. I know Zac would have liked me to stay longer and I would have loved to. Knowing how qualified Michelle and Dr DJ are and how the Grand Bay Yacht Club are helping Zac, I feel confident that Zac will be able to set sail early next week. Additional thanks to Rob, the sailmaker in Mauritius, for mending the main sail for no charge, the metal fabricator who welded Intrepid's pulpit and the ladies in the office at the Grand Baie Yacht Club. I would like to thank all the prayer warriors that draw near when times get tough.

It's late and I'm just a little jetlagged. I think that 'under 30's flu' might be getting to me which makes no sense because I'm 45. Oh well .


An early birthday celebration!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mauritius - Photos II

Laurence wanted to blog tonight and tell of his time with Zac in Mauritius but his jetlag has prevailed and alas there will be no blog or bedtime stories of any kind this evening. Here are a few of his photos:

Zac practicing his 'didge'.
Zac "Island-style"

Intrepid in the bay, Grand Baie, Mauritius

Grand Baie, Mauritius
Grand Baie Yacht Club

View from the yacht club

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mauritius - 4

So much going on here and on top of it all the flu is running through our family on both sides of the world! I gently nag Zac for some blogs but he gently reminds me that he has the flu and is working all day while recuperating from crossing the Indian Ocean all the while prepping for a difficult passage to Durban at the beginning of cyclone season. It is either me or nothing I'm afraid!
Zac is still recovering from the flu and is almost able to smell and taste again. He has been working hard on the boat - cleaning, organizing, troubleshooting a few systems that are not 100%. He has a great group of guys around him to assist and guide him in Laurence's absence. Today is a big work day with various rigging jobs, reattaching the stainless steel pulpit and lifelines. He will be having dinner this evening with the (American?) Ambassador of Mauritius.
Laurence is on his way home via Dubai, London, San Francisco and finally LAX where he will pick up his car and drive home. Unfortunately, his luggage is in Chicago but I'm sure it will arrive eventually.
There has been a lot of talk lately about pirates, the Volvo Ocean Race and Mike Perham. It really is an amazing time on the water these days. Our family has been following the piracy off of Somalia and now the insurgents trying to take the capital of Mogadishu and the poor, Kenyan fisherman a bit further south who are struggling to make a living in an increasingly global economy/marketplace. There are many sides to these stories, many that go far back in history and are not quickly understood.
The Volvo Ocean Race is on again with it's boats rounding the Cape of Good Hope in 30 knot winds and 30 foot swells. They have injuries and boat damage but are pressing on to their next scoring way point at 58 degrees east. There was some talk of one of the boats heading to Mauritius for repairs but that appears not to be the case, at least at this point.
Mike Perham is on his way. He is the 16 year old from the UK who is attempting a solo, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation. We have been keeping track of him for some time now. He is undoubtedly very qualified and has prepared well for his voyage. His trip will take him around the Southern Ocean including not only the Cape of Good Hope (Africa) but also Cape Horn (South America). We did discuss this route when planning for Zac's trip but the idea was quickly discarded as being too dangerous. Many sailors survive such a trip but there are many who don't as well. Zac's idea was to be able to stop and see the world and experience a bit of it on his way. We have the highest regard for Mike and his family and wish him well. (I would love to talk to his mum!) The two trips are completely different with Perham going fully sponsored in a million dollar racing boat. I don't think it makes either trip better than the other. No matter what happens both young men have extraordinary strength and vision to take on this monumental task and are to be commended for it. If Mike and Zac both complete their journeys as planned Zac will still be the youngest American solo circumnavigator and a very accomplished sailor.
Zac is on track to leave Mauritius for Durban, South Africa at the end of the week depending on weather. The leg is just over 1500 miles and should take 10-14 days depending, again, on the weather. There is, reportedly, a storm that lives off of the southern tip of Madagascar. Zac's job will be to stay far enough south of Madagascar to avoid this storm without going too far and getting blown south of Durban and needing to beat to get into port. He will celebrating his 17th birthday (November 29th) and Thanksgiving at sea.
All the best!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mauritius Update - Zac

View from the mast - Grand Baie

The photographer!

A different view
OK so after two sleepless nights I finally got in to Port Louis in Mauritius around 9am. It was great to finally be in port. After clearing customs we went back to my boat to wait for the boom to be delivered. Because of customs and duty rules, the boom had to be delivered by a customs agent to the boat. It was supposed to come by noon but with the 'island time effect' it showed up around 6:30pm. Then it was over to the hotel for some dinner and sleep. Mauritius looks a lot like Hawaii. It has steep mountains and a lot of sugar cane fields. The next morning I brought the boat up the coast 15 miles to Grand Baie where the hotel and yacht club are. The trip went pretty fast motoring at 6kts with 10kts of wind on the bow - enough to use the wind vane. I dropped anchor in 15 feet of water and then got to work taking off the broken boom and pulpit. By the end of the day we got both off and on shore. The next morning I went up the mast, removed the broken forstay and measured for the new one. Then we went ashore and started transferring all the boom hardware from the old boom to the new one. As the day wore on I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold - not a big surprise because Jen was down with one. By that evening I was feeling pretty bad. Someone at the yacht club gave me a couple of bottles of cold pills. Seeing that the directions were in French I just took 2 of each and that helped me pull my runny nose together long enough to give a speech to the yacht club members. I have been taking the ones with the picture of the nose on it since then. Hopefully, I will have a time on this next leg to listen to the French CDs my mom sent over. I took 2 years of Spanish but haven't used it much so far. The yacht club has been great about offering any help thay can, including letting us borrow one of their dinghies to get back and forth to Intrepid, who is at anchor in the bay. The next day I got a some work done in the morning but by mid day was feeling really sick so I went back to the hotel and slept of a few hours. There is really so much to do in port especially with dad leaving on Tuesday that I haven't had time or energy to do much besides work and eat and sleep. Today we got some provisions and my dad installed a new bilge pump. After lunch I crashed at the hotel which has made it possible for me to type this blog.


PS I have not forgotten that I need to finish the story of my days at sea in the Indian Ocean with a broken forstay. I will also take time to comment on Mike Perham and his solos circumnavigation out of the UK.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mauritius - Photos

Some photos from Jen Edney:

Zac up the mast and Laurence keeping a watchful eye.

The infamous boom(s).

The old and the new...

Sunset in Grand Baie, Mauritius

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mauritius - 3

I know you are looking forward to hearing from Zac but as the Croaker so eloquently put it - he only has so much time in a day. Recovering from a tough leg, facing a large list of maintenace and repairs, trying to get them done beofre cylcone season starts etc... Work is coming along on Intrepid. Zac has a miserable cold and spent the morning trying to send Laurence's photos over while Laurence and the guys worked on the boat. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the photos so we'll have to try again tomorrow.
Both of the guys are happy with how the work is going. I'm sorry to have so little to report but wanted to keep you all resting comfortably and not worrying.

In place of a blog from Zac I will post here some of the new FAQs that will be hitting Zac's web site any day.

To read some of the earlier questions and answers, please click on the “Zac FAQs” link on the right side of the blog, or in the header on his home page (FAQs/Intrepid).

Q Please tell us about Zac’s traditional school work and home schooling, and whether parts of his journey count for credit in school.
A First of all, Zac is a year ahead of others his age in school. He has finished all of his math requirements by starting advanced math earlier than most. Parts of his trip definitely do count towards his subjects in school. Those subjects are Composition, Oceanography, Advanced Seamanship and World Cultures (including food, history, customs, religions and government). When he returns, he will complete the traditional required classes for his senior year with his peers, such as History, English, Government and Economics.

Q Zac, do you ever get sick reading on board?
A No, I never get sick when I read on board.

Q Do you read a lot?
A I read when I can. Often, it’s just too hectic to read and navigate at the same time, especially in high winds and rough seas. Sometimes reading makes me sleepy, especially when I am sleep deprived, anyway. I usually have several books that I’m reading at the same time. I may be in the mood to read a sailing-oriented book at one time, but an entirely different fictional book or biography at another time.

Q Have you read Kon-Tiki By Thor Heyerdahl?
A I have it on board, but I have not read it yet.

Q Will Dad be meeting Zac in most all of the ports where he stops?
A Laurence plans to meet Zac in Mauritius, Cape Town and possibly, Panama. A lot depends on finances and if Intrepid needs anything.

Q When his water gets moldy, does that mean he has to stop somewhere for water?
A No, he just adds some bleach to the water to kill the mold, but not enough to make him sick.

Q With wet electronics, does the radar still work?
A Marine electronics, such as the radar screen, are made to be waterproof. A problem can result if the wires become corroded from too much water, but Zac hasn’t had a problem with that on his journey.

Q I know the AIS is transponder based, but will it still alert him to smaller vessels that may not have transponders?
A No, but they will show up on the other radar. The benefit of AIS is that it gives more information about what he sees, such as the direction, speed and identity of the boat.

Q How vital is it to have a functioning engine going to your next ports?
A It is extremely vital, especially in unfamiliar ports and in Panama.

Q Did Laurence take Zac’s CDs to Darwin?
A Zac is a typical teenager, who doesn’t have a lot of CDs. He downloads most of his music. There were two iPods donated to him before Darwin. One was fully loaded with a wide variety of eclectic music, and the other was awaiting a waterproof case, so that it doesn’t get ruined by salt water again. He picked that ipod up in Mauritius. Zac’s favorite music is High Energy Rock.

Q What do your other children think of Zac’s adventure?
A Abby (15) wishes she were on the seas, instead of Zac, but she is very supportive of his adventure. Toby (11) thinks he’s crazy, because he gets seasick, and couldn’t imagine doing what Zac is doing. Jessie, Lydia and Kathryn are too young to really understand what he’s doing and why, but they miss his being around to play with them. Ben is just a baby, so he has not voiced his opinion yet.

Q Could he have dried some of the fish he caught?
A Yes, he probably could have, if the conditions were right. It would have to be warm, calm and not too humid. The family has made fish jerky on board previously when sailing in Mexico, after marinating it in teriyaki sauce. It’s pretty time consuming, though, and probably was too humid where he caught the fish.

Q How far is Laurence’s home town from Darwin?
A Laurence is British, not Australian. He is from Lymington in Hampshire, England. He did, however, live in Australia for a period of time (Canberra and Bowen).

Q What was the longest solo trip that Zac has ever taken prior to this venture?
A Zac had not sailed a solo trip before he set off from Marina del Rey in June. He had sole responsibility for 4-hour shifts sailing to San Francisco, however.

Q When does Marianne get to meet up with Zac again?
A Right now, there are no plans for Marianne to meet Zac at any of the future ports, until he arrives in Marina del Rey. She would love to meet him in South Africa, but that depends on financial resources.

Q Did Lady Marianne locate a decent solar oven for you?
A Yes, but I haven’t used it yet. There are so many things to do and cooking food isn’t one of my highest priorities. I’m mostly eating canned and dried food, but I’m getting very tired of it.

Q When and where will new video clips be available?
A Some new clips were seen at the LA event on Oct. 26. It’s extremely expensive to edit the amount of video we have available, so newer clips will depend on financial resources, like just about everything else.

Q What is your best speed thus far? What is the hull speed of Intrepid?
A My best speed thus far, with currents is a little over 9 knots. The hull speed of Intrepid is 7 knots.

Q Will we get a list of positions, once you get to Cocos-Keeling?
A Yes, they will be posted eventually. ‘So much to do and so little time in a day!

Q Do you, Zac, have some knowledge of the constellations so you can identify them?
A I have basic knowledge, but I’m certainly not an expert in that area. I would not want to be responsible for navigating Intrepid based on constellation knowledge alone! I have developed a new method of celestial navigation, however. I tied the tiller to my foot as I lay in the cockpit trying to get some sleep and stay on course, correcting my steering by the position of the stars.

Q What CD did you listen to 100 times when your iPod wasn’t working?
A It was a Jeremy Camp CD.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mauritius - 2

Nothing too exciting to report today. Who was it that said that sailing/cruising is 99% boredom punctuated by 1% sheer terror? This is probably the boring part though I'll have to ask Zac to confirm the percentages! After a day of rest and cleansing :) Zac brought the boat north to Grand Baie to complete the repairs. From what I can make out from our much interrupted Skype conversations, Port Louis is more of an industrial port where as Grand Baie is the rest stop for cruisers. Laurence hooked up with a bunch of ex-Vendee Globe racers there who will assist with the rigging repairs. The people of Mauritius have been extremely hospitable and friendly towards Laurence and Zac.
As far as Zac's schedule goes, he is planning on leaving Mauritius as soon as is reasonably possible - probably late next week. He has no choice as the Indian Ocean cyclone season is fast approaching. Once he arrives in South Africa he can slow down. How long he will stay in Durban will depend on when he arrives and where he will spend Christmas. He really does not want to be at sea on Christmas if he can avoid it. The passage from Durban to Cape Town is a bit under 800 miles and will be broken into legs in an effort to time his time at sea around the regular storm activity in that area. The possible legs are: Durban to East London, East London to Port Elizabet, Port Elizabeth to Mossel Bay and Mossel Bay to Cape Town. With David watching the weather, he should be able to sneak in and out of port without getting too thrashed.
That is as good as it gets as far as scheduling goes for now.
Marilyn has been an angel and has gently kept after me to have Zac answer the many questions fired at him via the blog. There should be an update to the FAQs coming out shortly and I will hopefully post the new ones here on the blog as well.
PS Yes, Zac is officially half way!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mauritius - 1

Latest Position: Port Louis, Mauritius

Spoke with a very tired Zac and Laurence this morning. It is Wedneday night in Port Louis and they have had a very long day. Zac arrived around 9:30 am. He was met by several newspaper, radio and television reporters. Clearing customs took about 3 hours and then they waited until 5:30 for the shipping agent to bring the boom down. So yes, the boom, forstay, furler, Laurence, Zac and Jen are all together in the same place! We all spoke on Skype with the little girls asking silly questions (though they did know that Zac was in the Indian Ocean!) and Ben trying to climb through the computer screen.
There is a lot to be done in a short period of time. Thankfully, Laurence has found some qualified people who have offered to assist with Intrepid.

All of the following photos are courtesy and copyrighted by Jen Edney:

Intrepid and Zac arriving in Port Louis, Mauritius
Zac and Laurence
Zac and Intrepid in Port Louis, Mauritius
The Zacinator!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Indian Ocean Update - Zac

Latest Position: 11/11/08 0552Z 19 54.692S 58 44.971E

So now I am about 20 hours out of Port Louis with about 2 knots of wind and motoring along at 4.5 knots. I've never been so glad for a break of light wind. I am typing this using my shreaded genoa for a foot rest. I guess I had better tell you how it got to be this way.
It was about 10pm and I was sailing along under genoa alone. (I have been saving the repaired boom only for necessity.) I was going between 6-7 knots in a nice 25 knot Indian Ocean trade on the aft quarter. I had just layed down in my bunk and was awake listening to the sounds of the boat working when I heard a flapping noise on deck. It sounded like a flying fish or maybe a bird so I didn't bother to check it. A minute later, the motion of the boat changed. I went up in the cockpit and saw that the gennie was way too far off the boat. At this point my night vision hadn't quite kicked in yet. I thought that maybe the furling line had snapped and it had come all the way unfurled. I switched on the spreader lights and found my gennie 15 feet from the boat held by the furling line and the sheet. It looked like a spinnaker. As I looked at it I knew that I was in for one of those adrenalin-filled sleepless nights. The first thing I did was to grab the spinnaker halyard and fasten it to the bow for mast support. So I put the furling line around the winch and fell off the wind a little to take the wind off the sail. This worked pretty well except now I had to go and wrestle a flogging genoa over the lifelines and lash it to the deck. Around 1am I finally got it lashed down on a 1/2" thick U-bolt right behind where the forstay is fastened to the deck. It was under control enough to call my dad to see if he had any advice. He called some of the riggers who had worked on Intrepid in Marina del Rey and they thought that I should loosen the aft stay to give the forstay some slack to try and reattach it. I went back up on deck to try to furl the sail and after 3 hours I got it furled to 1/4 of it's size. It was 4 am and I was getting a little too tired to be on deck so I pulled up the main with a reef in it and went to sleep....
I'll have to finish the rest of the story later. My Monitor windvane doesn't steer well in such light wind and my tiller pilot burnt up. I have had to hand steer most of the past 24 hours. It was so calm last night that the stars were reflecting off of the water and I couldn't tell where the water and sky met. I have developed a new method of celestial navigation. I tied the tiller to my foot as I lay in the cockpit trying to get some sleep and stay on course, correcting my steering by the position of the stars.
I should be in Mauritius tomorrow morning.

All is Well on the Good Ship Intrepid

Latest Position: 11/10/08 0758Z 20 08.265S 60 21.337E

And for Sherrie in Laguna Woods who asked for a position that means something for non-charting folks:
At midnight Pacific Daylight Time Zac was approximately 160 miles from Port Louis, Mauritius.

The following photos are from Carine from the Rodrigues Island Tourism Board:

Looking pretty good, eh?
He's had a pretty uneventful day - resting and cleaning up. He has been motoring non-stop and now the 5 knots on the nose is 5 knots on the beam which barely fills the sail but is still a bit of a relief. We have been talking a lot about timing for his arrival in Port Louis, where he'll be for his birthday and Christmas, etc. He spends a lot of time thinking about what he will do when he gets where he is going. He has some pretty good ideas for what he will do when he gets back - documentary, book, public speaking...buying a house in Mexico so he can surf in between working.
Thank you for all of the supportive emails sent today. It appears that the Los Angeles Times article was also published in Alaska, Washington State, Northern California, New York. So welcome aboard to all of you newcomers. Please don't miss the 'comments' section at the end of the blog. There is a lot of good info that passes through there.
Just a quick call from Laurence saying that he and Jen had arrived in Mauritius and had found a hotel. They will be scoping out the place before Zac arrives so Laurence's time there can be well spent.
Thanks for visiting!

PS Several people have asked for an address in Durban to send Zac a birthday card:

Zac Sunderland
c/o Point Yacht Club
PO Box 2224
South Africa 4000

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On to Mauritius II

Latest Position: 11/09/08 0427Z 19 46.687S 62 24.738E

When Zac went into town at Port Mathurin to complete his final business there (customs and buying diesel) he entered the towns Saturday Market. There were all kinds of foods and goods made by the locals etc. He bought a few things and went back to the boat to make sure what the exchange rate was between the Mauritius Rupee and the American dollar. One hundred rupees is the equivalent of $3.10. He picked up some wooden flutes and a bongo-type drum for the kids as well as a new stash of headbands to keep his hair out of his face! With 100 rupees left at the end of his 'shopping spree' he dropped the money into a slot-type machine to be done with it. He ended up winning the jackpot of 500 rupees. Yes, $15.00! He was happy to learn that his rupees will still be good in Port Louis, Mauritius.
Diesel loaded and provisions stowed he motored out through the reef passage back into the Indian Ocean. He was met promptly by the obligatory 20 knots out of the east. He sailed past the huge outlying reef surrounding the island and back on course to Port Louis. He was in great spirits and happy to be back on the water.

For those of you who are hearing of Zac's trip through the La Times article coming out this weekend, this blog is usually written by Zac except for times when he is too busy to write and then I (mom) relay what has been going on. Also, when re-reading the article I realized that in trying to summarize Zac's trip thus far, it sounds like a bit of a nightmare. There have also been many incredibly good times for Zac on this trip. That is the nature of sailing and especially cruising (long term sailing). There are higher highs and lower lows.

For more information on Zac and his trip you can go to Zac's site and read the FAQ section and also on the blog you can read the archives of his blog back to April when he and his dad and half of Marina del Rey put Intrepid together for this trip. I would caution people not to jump to conclusions about who Zac is or what the trip is unless they have done these things.

Also, please feel free to shoot any questions you may have either for his parents or for Zac to

Zac had a long night of massive squalls with lightning and thunder for much of the night. It is like the Indian Ocean is trying to give him as much grief as he can before Zac finally passes through! To add insult to injury, the forecast for the next 2 days is a dead calm!

I spent a few minutes on Skype with Laurence and Jen from the airport in Dubai this morning. They were pretty tired but excited to finally get to Mauritius and Zac.

Marianne Sunderland

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ready to Go

Zac had a busy day yesterday with going up the mast and through the boat, reprovisioning and seeing the little town at Port Mathurin. He would have liked to stay longer but with cyclone season officially right around the corner, unfortunately there is no time. He really enjoyed the friendly people, the interesting and plentiful food and provisions. He had another good night of sleep and is now up and preparing to leave in a few hours. He needs to check out with customs before noon and buy more diesel. He is hoping to get a ride with a few of the customs guys in their truck to load up his jerry cans and haul them, filled with diesel, back to the boat.
We all enjoyed having a few days of relaxing and not thinking about weather (too much) and Zac's health etc. We have been busy organising additional equipment to send out to Mauritius.
Zac's forstay actually snapped about 10' up and so will need to be replaced. He is using his 2 spinnaker halyards as spares. His aft stay is looking good and buffeted by 2 running back stays.

Laurence got his mum on Skype to see all of the kids which was awesome. The three youngest have never been to England. We used to go back every couple of years until Laurence's father became to ill for us to visit. I am hoping to get everyone back there in the next year although they definitely don't have Ford Excursions there! They would take up both sides of the tiny lanes in Laurence's home town of Lymington. So I don't know how we would get around...

Back to Zac - he is rested, has had some good meals and is excited to get to Mauritius and see Laurence. Once in Africa, he will have more time to relax and travel.

Thank you to everyone who donated money, contacted their shipping contacts and ideas for the boom. We were able to not only to pay for the discounted shipping, but also the boom entirely from you all! It is simply amazing how people have come together behind Zac to support him. It does him a lot of good to know that people believe in his ability to do this.

Until tomorrow,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Good Night's Sleep

Hello All,
I spoke with Zac briefly this evening/his morning. He has been busy already with the locals coming to see his boat and then the Coast Guard boat that he moored up against at the sea wall needed to go out and so needed Zac to move Intrepid. That was a blessing in disguise because Zac then had 10 guys on board to help him pull down his twisted and jammed up genoa. It sounds like it just about took all of them to get it down. He has been visited several times by customs already this morning as they finish up the large pile of paperwork required to enter the island. The librarian met Zac on the dock and brought him 2 freshly-baked rolls and a book that all cruisers visiting Rodrigues Island sign. He was to sign it and return it to the library later. He is hoping to check out tomorrow so he has a lot to do today. First on his list? Go buy some food!
Unfortunately, that is all for now. He will call his tonight/my morning to check in and perhaps send a bloggy note for you all!

Many thanks to all of the kind folks over at Rodrigues Island - Kisna and Mariana at the Tourism Board and all of the Coast Guard and Customs guys. Thank you also to Fred Cook of Schaefer Marine who is sending a new furling system out to Zac via Laurence in the UK. Thank you to Oliver McCann and Adam Loory from UK Halsey Sailmakers for assisting in getting Zac a new genoa and generally offering good advice and counsel.


PS: This email just came in:

Your son is just in front of me. He seem to be really in good health. He’s young but I think he prove to all those who consider them as “ADULT” that he’s much more adult than them.


Rodrigues Tourism Office

PPS: For any of you with access to the LA Times - be watching for an aticle on Zac in this Sundays paper.

Rodrigues Island

Latest Position: 11/5/08 1300Z 19 40.657S 63 25.221E -- Rodrigues Island

Just a quick update to let you all know that Zac is in port and all is well. He arrived with no difficulty and was met in the bay by the National Coast Guard who generously offered their assistance. The wind was calm so the genoa did not present any problems. Zac went into to town after clearing customs with one of the customs workers who was taking a break. He rode on the back of his motorcycle to pick up a few provisions and a hot dinner from a local restaurant. We relayed with Laurence in England to see if there is anything that Zac needed. They look forward to catching up in a few days in Port Louis.
A big thank you to the Rodrigues Island Tourism Board, Customs and Coast Guard for their kind offers of help and awesome hospitality!

I'll update again this evening which will be Zac's morning.

What a difference a day can make!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Respite

Latest Position: 11/06/08 0232Z 19 07.755S 64 04.689E (48 miles from Rodrigues Island)

I just spoke with Zac via sat phone and he is doing very well. The wind has died down to a manageable 12-15 knots and the crippled genoa is not flogging at all. The swells have died down to a modest 6 feet. Zac says it feels like a lake after the past days! Interestingly, the weather forecasts all say he should have 19-23 knots and 8-10 foot swells. He had a great night's sleep.

He is on course and on schedule for Rodrigues Island. The Customs/Coast Guard is aware of his situation and will stand by in case he needs anything. He should be fine to enter the bay and drop the anchor but is a bit concerned what will happen when he takes the main sail down. He plans on spending today day cleaning up the boat and preparing the anchor etc. before arriving around 4:00pm. His plan once safe in harbor is to remove the damaged genoa and furling drum, reattach the forstay and thoroughly inspect the entire boat, especially the mast and rig. For those of you who were wondering, he will not use the genoa on the way to Mauritius. He will use his main sail and stay sail (small forward sail).

Thank you again for your kind thoughts and words of encouragement, especially Bonnie Craddick who not only brought a freshly baked chicken pot pie and chocolate chip cookies for the kids and I for dinner, but also a note with the following:

Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will help thee, I will strengthen thee. I will uphold thee with my right hand of righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

With great joy,

A Detour

Latest Position as of 1445Z 18 42.382S 65 01.636E

Zac has had a rough couple of days out there in the Indian Ocean. The wind is mercilessly tearing at all of his attempted repairs to the forstay problem. He cannot roll in his genoa (forward sail) because the furler is not attached and he can not pull down the sail because there is too much wind in it. He has been on deck numerous times lashing things down but the wind will find any piece that is still exposed and pull at it until the sail is flogging and flapping like crazy.
He decided to pull into Rodrigues Island to do a proper repair to his sail/rigging as there is no way for him to deal with it while under way. Rodrigues Island is part of the archipelago of Mauritius and is about 300 miles from his intended port of call, Port Louis, on the island of Mauritius. He is currently about 100 miles from Rodrigues Island and should arrive there in about 20 hours, hopefully before dark on his tomorrow afternoon.
Laurence is is England arranging some supplies to bring out to Mauritius and visiting with his family. David Morris is keeping his eye on the weather which for now is clear. I am doing what I can from here to contact people in Zac's upcoming ports arranging moorings, hotels etc.
Zac is looking forward to calm water for a few days and getting Intrepid back in good working order.
Thank you all for your continued support.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update - Indian Ocean

Latest Position: 11/04/08 1300Z 18 33.174S 67 21.890E

Zac is currently sailing on course about 550 miles from Mauritius. He is sailing under reefed main alone. He has been monitoring the situation with his disabled genoa which is currently stabilized. The wind has been strong (20-25 knots with periods of 30 knots) and the sea has been rough with a large swell and the annoying, occasional southern swell that slaps the boat and sometimes swamps the cockpit. He is in good spirits though frustrated by the problems with the fore stay. There are various theories as to how it happened but please know that Intrepid's rigging was completely upgraded with heavy-duty standing and running rigging including new chain plates before he left. His hull and bulkheads were also reinforced and new keel bolts installed. In no way is Intrepid 'dangerously unprepared' or a 'poor' cruising boat. In fact, she has been around the world once before when named Nantucket Sleigh Ride.

Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and concerns. We'll keep you updated as to Zac's progress. After voting this morning, Laurence set out for LAX and his journey to Mauritius via England. I'll be glad when my guys are together again.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Troubles at Sea

G'day to All ,

We can often think that the dream of a circumnavigation is sailing from one perfect sunset into the next. However, those that have actually embarked and had the privilege to do so often tell a very different story. The challenges faced can be unlike any ever experienced on land. The test of endurance stretches us beyond the realm of normalcy. For those who have endured, these are the experiences that mould us.

Zac has been and is going through a challenging time out there. A time that he will surely remember for a long time.

It was Saturday and Toby and Jessie had back-to-back soccer games early. The weather here was unusually stormy with periodic heavy rain, lightening and thunder. I couldn't help thinking of Zac out there in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the squalls he has been facing recently. Jessie's game was interrupted by the weather and was supposed to resume but half of the opposing team had gone home and so had a victory by default. Then Toby's team was in the middle of a great game that they won 3:1, taking them to the top of their league, when my cell phone rang. I recognized Zac's number and realizing that it was after midnight where he was I knew that this was going to demand my full attention. There was no time for small talk as Zac informed me of his current dilemma. The forestay that goes from the top of the mast to the bow (pointed end of yacht) had come adrift from the chain plate on the bow. His conditions 8-10 ft confused swells and 20 knots of wind and building. I was thankful that we had decided to put the cutter stay in because it's presence obviously saved the rig. I told him to set both spinnaker halyards (lines that go to the top of mast that are used to pull up spinnaker) to take up the load and tie the forestay off to stop it flailing around in the conditions . Unfortunately, the phone connection was not that good and we both found ourselves having to repeat several times before actually understanding each other. Knowing he was fatigued and the task at hand was serious I told him to check his harness and be careful . From the hours of midnight to 3:00 am he wrestled with his situation. What made this all the more awkward was the fact that he was unable to furl his Genoa. It was almost as if the soccer game didn't matter as I wrestled in my mind knowing Zac was out there being challenged by the elements and a serious situation that had not yet been remedied. I hoped that my advice was taken (and heard!) through our bad connection . Going on deck can be challenging at the best of times. Trying to undertake these tasks in the conditions Zac was in are very dangerous. As I hung up with Zac I was sobered by his daunting task at hand. I wanted him to stabilize the situation so he could analyze it and make a more permanent fix during day light hours. Prayer requests went out as we waited to hear and our anxiety went up a notch . The ensuing hours seemed an eternity. Then the phone rang. The situation had been stabilized but not before he had nearly fallen overboard twice (yes, he was harnessed), and the stay with Genoa had caught an unusual gust of wind that sent it flying out from the vessel only to come careening back through the life lines narrowly missing him as he jumped out of it's way.

The following day Zac took hold of his situation and we discussed a remedy. I consulted with some of the rigging experts that I know that were in agreement with our solution to the problem . Ordinarily Zac would have to take off the furling drum to get to the turnbuckle. Knowing that this would be quite a task and would more than likely end up with part of the furling system in the water we decided to loosen the main sheet aft stay and aft lowers whilst keeping tension on the spinnaker halyards to move the top of the mast forward. He did this and managed to get a couple of shackles to hold the stay to the chain plate. He used seizing wire to ensure that the shackles would not work loose and then he re-tuned the rig. He is currently making 6.5-7 knots under reefed main with spinnaker halyards still acting as stays. If conditions subside, Zac will consider taking apart the necessary portion of the furling system to get to the turn buckle to loosen it so he will be able to get the pin in, to hold the stay to the chain plate. Big thanks to all those who were praying. Please continue to do so.

I want to thank every one who turned up, sponsored and supported last Sunday's celebration fund raiser for Zac. Through the silent auction, tickets sold and the Odyssey cruise we raised almost $6,000. As Zac approaches this halfway mark, this was necessary to offset some of the debt we have incurred. It was wonderful to meet some of the Zac Pac in person. Zac is truly amazed knowing how much you care for him.
Thank you!

As I prepare to fly out to hook up with Zac, I would appreciate your prayers. There is much work that needs to be done and little time to do it. His passage from Mauritius to Durban is known for its challenges not to mention the passage from Durban to Cape Town.