Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

G'day to all,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and and looking forward to a good new year. This has been a very exciting year for us at home base. The Point Yacht Club in Durban has been very hospitable to Zac, with many new friends and some great help. That has always been the case as he has pulled in across the globe; Hawaii Yacht Club in Honolulu, Meico Beach Yacht Club in Majuro, Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby, Darwin Sailing Club in Australia, Grande Baie Yacht Club in Mauritius and even our own Westlake Yacht Club here in Thousand Oaks. Zac will soon be looking for that all important weather window to see him through to Cape Town. For those who know and are familiar with this part of the world there is an appreciation and respect for the importance of weather on Zac's next leg. It is good that Zac is enjoying a break and preparing Intrepid for her trip home.
Reflecting back on the year, it has certainly given me a few gray hairs, some sorrow and also a great deal of joy. When Zac bought his yacht with his savings nearly a year ago now, I knew that the refit and modifications needed to turn this rather tired looking sailboat into the blue-water cruising yacht that you know as Intrepid, would take a massive effort. Not only by myself, but from friends, family and experts in the field. In short, we needed a miracle. We are greatly indebted to those that came alongside and helped. What was never written about were the hours that Zac, Mike and I worked during the last month of prep. There simply weren't enough hours in the day. And then there was the delay to theinitial departure date of two weeks due to an unresolved engine issue. We decided to replace it with a new one that was partially sponsored by Boatswain's Locker.

Zac bringing Nantucket Sleigh Ride aka Intrepid up from Long Beach Harbor

It was at that time that I received the crushing news that my mentor and old running coach died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Had the situation been different, I would have been back on a plane to the UK to pay my respects and celebrate his life with those that were closest to him. Paul Hart took three ordinary young boys and turned them into the finest athletes of their time . I sat a long time on a hill in the wilderness contemplating the effects Paul had on my life - not wanting to come to terms with his death, but also realizing that any more delays to Zac's project could cost him the trip. I knew we had to push on despite the sad loss of a dear friend.

What a great send off for all those present at the Marina Del Rey Boat Show on that sunny June 14, 2008. Such excitement and jubilant farewells! I was very relieved, excited, proud and sad...a huge effort had been made and now it was up to Zac.

The newly refitted Intrepid departs Marina del Rey
I know that during those early days there were many that were unsure of Zac's abilities. But as the Zac Pak and readers looked on, Zac silenced those critics and impressed others with his ability to handle the adversities that faced him. Remember the communication break down before entering the Torres Strait, the imposing vessel off of Indonesia (we will never know what they were doing), the broken tiller, boom, gales and many other challenges along the way.

Through all this there have been those that have prayed for Zac's safety and for that we are surely indebted.

Though the trip is far from over, there will be more challenges that Zac will have to face as his voyage home unfolds. I would like to thank all of you that support, encourage, pray and read this blog.

May you all have a truly fabulous new year!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Drawing Winner

Hi Everyone!

I forgot to mention the winner of last week's drawing for a signed poster and head shot. The winner is Doyle Jacoby. We will continue this drawing each week until the calendars are all sold. Your name will be entered once for every calendar purchased this week from Zac's Store (link on the right) to win a signed poster and head shot. The calendars are slightly over-sized with a lot of space to write on each day and great, large photos taken by several different photographers: Jen Edney, Mike Smith and Lisa Gizara.

This is the link to Marta Szilajtis' web site (thanks to Josh Frey):

Thanks again for all the kind holiday wishes. We have had a very loud, busy and merry Christmas indeed!

Marianne Sunderland

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Intrepid at The Point Yacht Club
Hello All,
Thank you for all the Christmas messages. It has been great to relax and hang out for such a long break. Work continues on Intrepid and I will soon begin to look for a good weather window to take off towards Cape Town. The current weather forecast is pretty wild so it will have to wait for now.

@Axel: Marta, the European solo circumnavigator, does have a web site but I don't know what it is... I think the people from the boat in that photo is away for the holidays because I have never met them. Most of the cruisers that are here now are from Australia.

@Rory: Marta is testing and promoting a new design of racing sail boat. I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the boat. I'll try to find out. It is a pretty interesting story how she got to be doing this. She is stopping in ports along the way with out any record attempt.

@Becky: After much wise counsel, I have decided not to get a cat. :)

@Parker: You're welcome and keep pressing on! Maybe we'll have a sail when I get back this summer.

There were a few questions about my route around the Cape of Good Hope. Depending on the weather conditions I will be stopping in East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and then Cape Town. My mom's aunt and uncle lived in South Africa back in the 70s and still have many friends out here. I'll hopefully hooking up with some of them and then with some people I met in Cocos keeling that are from Cape Town.

As far as the engine troubles go, I am having my starter motor rebuilt before heading off. Otherwise it seems to be functioning well. The engine was replaced before I left in June but we kept the old gas fuel tanks. My engine problems seem to be caused by fuel in the pick up line in the tank and not the engine itself so there is no need to replace it again.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Saturday, December 20, 2008

Durban Pics and News

Photos Courtesy of Terry Flynn of the Point Yacht Club:

Intrepid off of Durban, South Africa

Battling the current off of Durban

Safely in port at the Point Yacht Club

Reading mail - over 100 cards and letters!

A belated birthday cake - thanks Elize!

Ed and Lorrianne who towed me into port with their yacht 'Sundance'

Cya, K.K. and I before a day of sightseeing

After arriving in port around 4:30am I slept like a dead man for a few hours before it was time to get up and meet the customs and immigration guys around 8:30am. Very nice of them to come to the boat here and no need to wait at a customs dock. They didn't show up right away so I went back to sleep for an hour or two. Everyone here at the yacht club has been great. The morning of my arrival some guys from the club came down to the boat with my keys to the gate and some breakfast. I picked up my mail which was awesome - like another birthday. In fact, I am still opening them - so thanks so much everyone for all of the cards and packages. Since I've been in I've been doing a bit of work on the boat - getting some sail work done, pulling off my starter motor and cleaning up and restowing stuff. I've also been having a lot of fun. Yesterday I went to the Valley of 1000 Hills and spent the night at a friend from the yacht club's house. Then on Tuesday we went to the club's Christmas party. I sat with Marta, the 24 year old from Europe that is also attempting a solo circumnavigation. Our routes are very similar so we had a lot to talk about! Wednesday I went racing with a friend Cya, on a Flying Tiger which is the complete opposite of cruising with everything carbon fiber. We were 2nd over the line but 6th overall. It was really great fun. Thursday I cleaned the boat and hung out with Cya looking for Christmas presents and seeing the sights. Friday I cleaned a little more and then went for breakfast at the beach with Cya, K.K. and Jerry some friends from the PYC junior sailing club. Then we hit up the mall looking for more Christmas presents but it was so hot that we decided to go to the beach and swim for awhile. I am feeling rested and reassured to have Intrepid looked over. I am looking forward to my next leg (with some trepidation) and heading over to Cape Town which I have heard so many great things about.

Thanks again for all of your comments.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Durban Update - Zac

Zac in Rodrigues Island
Copyright Zac Sunderland 2008
OK, so as you know I'm safe and sound in Durban now but it was quite a time to get in. On the morning of my scheduled arrival I was bombing along at 6 to 7 knots with full sail. I had about 60 miles to go so I was getting ready for making port by organizing my paperwork and cleaning up the boat. I sailed along nicely for around 3 hrs but after that the wind just died away to almost nothing. About an hour later I had a light SW wind. I put up the sails and continued heading towards my waypoint thirty miles up the coast from Durban and about 10 miles offshore. The wind built slowly and as I closed in on my way point I began to realize that I would have to tack if the wind I had held up. I called home to compare my weather with what was showing on Clearpoint Weather and it showed the wind steady from the opposite direction. The forcast showed that it would shift as I got closer to shore. A little unsure of the plan, I kept going. Right as I reached my waypoint the full force of the buster kicked in and I had 25 and 30 knots on the nose. Now the wind is no problem, I can tack into it. It is slower and a real pain but doable. The problem came from the 5 knot current going the opposite direction than normal against me. I called a friend, advisor and former South African sailor, Rob Jordan, and after talking with him decided to beat into the wind and current and hope for it to die down. I tacked and tacked slamming through squalls and dodging ships but wasn't making any progress because of the current so I set on a tack out to sea about 30 miles. Finally, the current slackened and I was able to make some progress down the coast. I sailed my way past Durban and then tried to tack back in but the wind shifted and the current swept me to 20 miles from Durban. It was now morning and I hadn't slept all night with tons of shipping and electrical storms. So with the out-to-sea strategy not working I tried going inshore but the current was just as strong. I ended up just tacking into it and making very slow progress. At around 3:00 pm some boats from the yacht club came out and took some pictures - I was about 12 miles out of the harbor. At 11:00 pm I was 7 miles out and there was a ship on a collision course about a mile away so I went to start up the engine but nothing happened. It sounded like the starter wasn't working so I grabbed a screw driver and arched the solenoid across but still nothing. I had been on the phone with Mom and Dad back home during all of this. Mom had just received an email from Phillip Strauss of the S/V Abracadabra. We had met Phillip and his family in Mexico years ago while our family was cruising there. He and his family had been in Cape Town but came out to Durban to see me in. His email gave his cell phone number and said that if I needed anything to just give him a call. Mom called him and told him about the wind, current, ships, squalls and failing engine. Phillip was berthed at the Point Yacht Club and was able to organise some guys from the club to give me a tow in. I was able to pick up a little wind and sail right to the mouth of the harbor. The shipping out there was so heavy - there was a constant stream of ships coming in and out and 60 standing off the entrance. So I tacked out to about two miles from the harbor and went hove-to. The guys from the yacht club were having trouble finding me in the maze of lights so I turned on my strobe. When they found me they threw me a line and a cold Coke and towed me in. Now I was so tired coming in that I was falling asleep with the wind in my face. I finally got docked about 4:30 in the morning and went over to Phil's boat for a very light dinner. Then I went back to my boat and passed out until about 9:00 am. I woke up and got busy, getting ready for customs and immigration, meeting people and finding my way around.
The last few days here in Durban have been great. Since I am still on Mauritian time and the sun rises early here, I wake up early and spend a few hours working on the boat. The people here at the Point Yacht Club have been taking caring of me, showing me around taking me on some trips and helping to organise my boat work. Work that needs doing includes: having the new genoa cut down a bit, having the engine troubleshot and serviced, having a complete rigging inspection, major reprovisioning, and various other odd jobs.

As usual, I am having trouble finding good internet connections and while in port the sat phone reception is pretty bad so my communication is not as easy as I would like. Now that I am settled in and have things more under control, I will get a blog out everyday or so.

Thanks to all who sent cards and presents - when I get my photos to upload, I'll send out a few photos and notes on that.



Saturday, December 13, 2008

Update & Drawing Winner

Hello All,

Zac is getting rested and filled in on all the ins and outs of Durban and South Africa. He was taken out for a large and delicious steak last night and has grocery shopped, lined up a rigging inspection and engine service and is preparing this morning for a news interview. He is busy but enjoying taking it all in. I asked him about the weather and he said that it is very hot and humid. He is wearing a shirt for the first time since leaving Mauritius! For the blogger who asked about sunscreen, I did ask...he usually isn't out in the sun for long periods of time and so has never burnt but has a good tan for sure!
As mentioned earlier this week, we have had our drawing from the names of calendar buyers to see who won the signed poster. Ben did the honors...
After this shot he spread them all over the living room but that is another story.
The winner of an autographed poster and head shot is Mr. John Weber!
The poster will be sent out Monday morning - enjoy!
We will have another drawing on Saturday the 20th. For every calendar you purchase this week, your name will be entered into a drawing for a signed poster and head shot.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hello and Good Night

Latest Position: 12/13/08 29 54.430S 31 01.200E - Point Yacht Club, Durban, South Africa

After another harrowing day at sea with ships, currents lightning and no sleep Zac is safely in port. We received one final phone call, "Hi Dad, I'm in and I'm going to bed." He arrived about 4:00am with the help of a group of faithful followers from PYC and especially Phillip Strauss whom our family met while cruising in Mexico 7 years ago. Lots of long stories for sure!

Zac will have a busy day today meeting and greeting and getting settled. For now we will all have a good night's sleep.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So Close and Yet So Far

Latest Position: 12/12/08 0325Z 29 43.107S 31 22.064E (16 miles out of Durban)

Sorry to delay the post so long. We heard from Zac this morning thinking that he would be in port and happy. In fact, he was not in port and very unhappy. It seems that in the night, his beautiful wind died out only to return again from the south south west - on the nose. He was unable to make headway into Durban and was faced with possibly having to head north to Richard's Bay or at least for the 24 hours of southerly wind. After seeking counsel, Zac decided to close haul the boat and fight for landfall in Durban. After another sleepless night with more lightning, squalls and ships tacking towards land, Zac made a total of 12 miles! He was not much comforted by the scientific explanations of lighting proximity. Imagine night time, ships all around and squalls that not only block your vision of the ship but also the radar is cluttered with clouds so the ships don't show up there either. He still sounded positive when he called this morning and can smell land which he has never really experienced before after a long passage. He is in communication with Durban Port Control and the Point Yacht Club and was hoping to be in in the next 24 hours. He still doesn't know fully how the current vs wind situation will play out so that is his best guess for now.
Will post in the morning as soon as we hear from Zac.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Roar in the Night

Latest Position: 12/11/08 0400Z 29 22.386S 32 16.797E (70 miles out of Durban, South Africa)

The wind finally filled in yesterday around 10 pm. I had about 12 knots on the aft starboard quarter and it has been building and shifting towards the bow ever since. Last night I was about 160 miles out of Durban and going along at about 6-7 knots. At that speed I could make the harbor just on dark. Not a big problem because I have a full moon. I went to bed around 11 and was woken around 2 am by the roar of thunder. It just goes to further prove my theory that if it is going to happen, it will happen between 2-3 in the morning. So I got up to the cockpit and took a look at the gauges. I was going 8.3 knots with 25 knots on the beam. I had hit one of the currents that runs along the coast of Africa. Now that I was in the cockpit I could see the lightning striking all around me. I counted the seconds between the flash and the thunder and got to two! Not sure what that means but it was way too close for me. I altered course so I would get as far upwind from the squall as I could. But bashing into 25 knots makes it 30 knots so I had a pretty wild ride for about an hour. At its closest point I had lightning about a mile away while going through a squall. At 3-something this morning I was able to get back on course and go back to sleep. Over the night I passed about 10 ships. They were also dodging the scattered electrical storms. I'm not sure what happens when a massive metal ship gets hit by lightning but they were making some pretty sharp turns to avoid it. Another electrical storm/squall showed up on radar around 6am but it passed about 3 miles away. I am 60 miles from Durban as I type coming in fast with a 7 knot average. If the wind stays steady I should be in while it is still light. Have to get back to it here.



@Steve in Yuma: It is amazing spending all this time at sea and not getting bored. There is always something to do - though it is not always exciting.

@Melanie: Not sure how long I'll be in Durban. My push to get across the Indian Ocean is over and I now have some time to relax.

@Kate: I bought the canned Mac and Cheese in Cocos Keeling and it is pretty awful!

The latest blog from Pete Thomas from the LA Times:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Out of Africa II

Latest Position: 12/10/28 0318Z 28 32.197S 34 48.455E

I have been given the green light to head into Durban and am slowly making my way south and west. The conditions are light and shifting but are predicted to fill in today. I will have to push Intrepid hard to make the most of the window of wind for the next 24 - 36 hours. I forgot to mention what I have been eating out here when I wrote the summary of my day a few days ago. I'm afraid it has been pretty depressing. I have not had much success with provisioning and my Costco canned soups and chilis are long gone. I have some canned mac and cheese and some amazingly spicy canned curry that I am sending home for dad for Christmas. (Hopefully he won't read this.) My favorite thing these days is canned fruit and Lara Bars that my grandmother sent with Dad to Mauritius.
To the commenter that questioned whether or not I read the blog comments: the answer is yes and no. I don't have the capability to access the blog from the boat. I have to either dictate or email my blogs home for my mom to post onto the blog. She copies the comments and posts them in emails for me or reads them to me if the weather is too wild to be checking email. I read the blog and emails etc when in port when I have time. That said, I will attempt to answer your questions more regularly than I have done in the past.

@ Daveh - I am totally loving the night vision scope. It is my favorite piece of equipment outside of the radar/chartplotter. I was too tired to forage for a thinner coin or tool so I chose to just watch the ship pass.

@ Jeff Michals-Brown: I set my alarm at 2.5 miles and also at 4.5 miles. The boat is small enough that when I swing the radar monitor into the salon (inside of the boat) it wakes me up pretty well. If I miss the 4.5 mile alarm, I have the 2.5 mile alarm as a back up.

@ Point Yacht Club: I am looking forward to meeting you all in a few days!


Monday, December 8, 2008

Out of Africa

Latest Position: 12/08/08 1600Z 28 14.584S 37 22.228E (350 miles from Durban)

The last few days the winds has been very confused and I was up almost all night last night trying to keep Intrepid on course. This whole area is mixed with areas of low pressure and areas of high pressure which reduce the wind to nothing. Then there are the bits of storms from the southern ocean bringing high winds and swells from time to time. I am still making progress towards Durban. I should be in in 3-4 days depending on the wind. Also, being close to the Mozambique channel there has been a bunch of shipping. I've passed the best part of 20 ships in the past 24 hours. Other than that there is not much going on out here. I'm just ticking off the miles to Durban which is about 350 miles as the crow flies.


Note from Mom:
Zac sounds good when we speak to him everyday. He has been out of Mauritius for almost 2 weeks now which is about how long he can take the solitude and strain relatively comfortably. He'll be under a lot of pressure to keep focused and positive as he approaches the dangerous and unpredictable South African coast. We are gathering counsel from our experienced South African sailing friend and of course meteorologist David Morris is keeping an eye on things.

While Laurence was in Mauritius he had Zac sign a few of his posters and head shots. For the rest of December, everyone who orders one of Zac's calendars will be entered into a drawing for one of each of these. We will draw one name every week for the rest of December. Names will be drawn every Saturday and winners announced on the blog. Calendars and also T-shirts and posters can be purchased through Zac's Store located on the right hand column of the blog.

Thanks again for your support!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Solo Circumnavigator

Latest Position: 12/06/08 1539Z 27 52.817S 41 11.112E
I've been getting a lot of people asking what a normal day is like out here. Most everyday is different so most everyday I'm on a different schedule dealing with different stuff. I figure a good way to answer that question is to give you a 24 hour look at my life in the Indian Ocean. Last night I called my mom at around 9pm my time and 8am California time to compare weather reports and give a position update. The forecast for the night was 10-12 knots off my starboard aft quarter which is light but enough to sail at around 4-5 knots. As the night wore on the wind dropped off to around 8 knots. It was just enough to keep the boat on course going 3 knots - painfully slow. I went to bed around 10:30pm Mauritius time but I know its gotten earlier since I set out because the sun sets around 7pm in Mauritius which is 9pm out here. I was woken up by my radar alarm at 11 something just after I had fallen asleep. I got up and turned off the alarm and saw the familiar shape of a ship on the radar screen. I grabbed my night vision scope (thanks Dave) and went up into the cockpit to see if we were on a collision course but the batteries in the scope were dead. So I got out some AAAs to replace them and grabbed a coin to open the battery compartment. All my foreign coins were too fat for the screw. Unable to find a US quarter I sat in the cockpit and watched the 2 white lights that resemble hundreds of tons of metal pass me by. As soon as the ship was far enough away from me to set my radar alarm again I went back to sleep. I also had 3 separate squalls that night. I don't know what time they were because I was too tired to care. They aren't powerful enough for me to need to reef. But I still had to stay awake until they cleared the radar screen. I set 2 alarms - one at 2.5 miles and the other at 4.5 miles. On the last squall I set the 2.5 mile alarm again but fell asleep while waiting for the squall to pass to be able to set the 4.5 mile alarm. I was woken up at around 6am by the radar alarm and saw that I had a ship 2.5 miles away on a collision course. I tacked to put some distance between us and watched it pass a half mile away. Then I went back to sleep and woke up around 9am. I called home again to see what the weather showed for the day. The forecast was for 8-10 knots but the wind had built from 8 knots to 20. I had a few squalls and ships but nothing too close. I passed through a squall with a raging rain storm and washed my hair. Around 12 I was up on deck untangling the lazy sheet on the genny and I saw for the first time not flying fish but squid on deck. No, I didn't eat it. The rest of the day passed uneventfully. I have been reading Singlehanded Sailing by Richard Henderson. It has chapters written on different aspects of solo sailing from many diffeent solo sailors. I cleaned up some inside and studied some charts and now I am finishing typing this blog - at 8pm. There is the last 23 hours of my life. It may be kind if boring to read but, hey, you asked!
Note from Mom:
Laurence and I had a great evening last night at the Westlake Yacht Club. The were having their yearly holiday party with food and music and lots of good company. They have been an amazing support during Zac's trip from before he left. Special thanks to Carol Amenta and Michael Broggie for showing off and selling 20 of Zac's calendars. They really are something with a slightly over-sized format and big, professional-quality photos by 3 different photographers.

There are still some available at Zac's Store (link to the right on this blog).

There was a nice article in the Ventura County Star (our local paper) this morning:
For those of you who may not read the blog comments, here is the link to the NPR interview:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mauritius Fun and Photos

Latest Position: 12/03/08 0600Z 27 46.068S 45 47.913E

Weather here is holding pretty steady. Though I haven't been becalmed again, the wind is light and shifting continually. I was up a lot in the evening changing my sails around to accommodate the shifty winds. I am thankful to be moving though, slow as it is. My Clearpoint weather forecast shows there is a storm forming off of Madagascar today. I am the prescribed 150 miles off shore so I hope that I stay clear of any danger. I took some time yesterday between jobs to type a bit about the last few days of time I spent in Mauritius. Photos are courtesy of Richard Munisamy...

After my dad and Jen flew out of Mauritius I still had quite a few repairs to do on the boat. I worked on the boat most mornings and then would chill with Richard and the local guys at The Beach House, a local restaurant and hang out.

Also, during my stay Richard managed to get us a free trip out to one of the outer islands in a big catamaran. It was about a 2 hour ride to get to Flat Island where we dropped anchor, got a ride into the beach and had a BBQ. We hung out on the beach and I met 2 local girls, Ashley and Kate, from another boat (there were about 6 other charters there that day). We hung out for a few hours and were able to switch to the other boat for the ride back.

I was also able to do an under sea walk where you wear a big metal helmet kind of like the old metal scuba masks, and walk on the bottom of the ocean to have a look around.

On the day before I left, a friend of mine, Alex, managed to get me a ticket to a club opening. It was supposed to be a great time with a DJ visiting from Italy. I got introduced to the DJ, Giulia Regain, and we hit it off and spent the evening at her VIP party above the Beach House. I also really enjoyed my visit with the American ambassador's house in Mauritius. I have had a great time getting to know the local people here. As always, most people are friendly and helpful - awesome!
Signing autographs at the Grand Baie Yacht Club

With the Grand Baie Yacht Club Junior Sailing Club

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Windseeker

Latest Position: 12/02/08 1507Z 27 35.303S 47 40.615E

I am about 170 miles off of Madagascar right now passing south and west towards Africa now. I have about 8 knots behind me so I am only able to sail at about 4 knots and progress is slow. It is much better than getting stuck in one of the frequent storms that this area is infamous for however. There is not much else going on out here - just preparing the boat for the weather to come. I have been putting locks on the lazarettes and taking everything out of the combing boxes so that if things get crazy out here everything doesn't get thrown around. I've also been arranging the lines on deck and sorting out the halyards. I replaced the lines on the wind vane. The line was fine but I hadn't changed them in awhile and since there is no wind it is a good time. I have also stowed the anchor and spent some time prepping the lines on the tires that are to be my sea anchors. I have noticed that I have changed time zones again. In Mauritiuts the sun went down about 6:30 - 7:00. Now it goes down about 8:30 - 9:00. Not that it really matters. Out here time doesn't really have much bearing. I had better get back to it. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes and thank you to the Zeigler family for thier birthday present. I was cleaning up and found it stowed in a locker which was a nice surprise!