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.




Blogger Jerry Critter said...

I am glad to hear that you are rested and having fun. Does Marta have a website where we can follow her journey?

December 21, 2008 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful to have photos....awesome....
and remember the Brits don't say that lightly!
The photos gave me the goose bumps...thinking what you have been through to get to this point.

Sounds like things are going well and you are having fun and making more friends.

Was great to see you opening all your cards deserve it all.

Bye for now and continue making the most of your stay.

UK friend

December 21, 2008 at 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you are finally rested Zac! Happy sailing!
P.S. Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2008 at 3:45 PM  
Anonymous JiffyLube said...

I bet it feels good to be on land, and eating hot food again!

The next legs around the cape will be a milk run for you after what you've already done.

Keep up the good work Zac.

December 21, 2008 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

So who is Marta? Is she having a good circumnavigation? Slower but with lots of sightseeing? What type of boat? She having all the same problems with her engine not working?

December 21, 2008 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac,
Cool runnin' and hot weather. Sounds like you are finally re-laxing, good for you... what
have you been eating? Sounds like you are charging up for Cape Town and the run around the Cape. I know your Father speaks of no complacency on Intrepid but just be sure to give yourself a round of applause for all you have accomplished. Somewhere in that applause is the real knowledge of what you have learned on your travels with Intrepid. The trepidation you fear for the next part of the leg is healthy for fear is a great motivator in many instances but you truly need to look back now and realize you can do this. I know it's scary the first time you feel you can actually accomplish your Dreams.
Give yourself have come through alot. Sure, guys have helped repairing the boat, etc., but YOU faced this alone and you alone will meet head-on this next set of challenges. Trust in your weather gurus, look at it a hundred different ways, go with YOUR gut instinct. And go with the knowledge of all you have accomplished.
BTW, What's up the engine again? Have you solved this or or are you looking at replacing it once you get back? If so, is that wise?

It's tough being 17, on your own but I know of no other 17 year old who's instinct I would trust as much as yours. Give yourself the credit now Zac, it will take the edge off the trepidation you feel.
Own it and go when you feel 100% ready.

In the meantime you have a Great
Christmas. Nothing like experiencing a major holiday away from home, all the various cultures there collide into a different way of experiencing the day of Christmas.

Thank-you for taking the time to send the pictures and the blog entry. Nice to know there are people there that have your back.
Stay safe and continue cool runnin', Irie...

December 21, 2008 at 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Great photos !! looks like you're having a very cool time.

And remember - trepidation cannot exist aboard a vessel named "Intrepid." Have a safe passage around the cape after the holiday.
Capability is your motto. Everything will be great. Enjoy your stay.


December 21, 2008 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Well at least this time with no blog for several days, I didn't have to worry about your safety! I figured, and was glad to read, that you were sleeping, eating, hanging out, having fun! Very good.

What's your estimated departure date from Durban and your eta in Capetown?

Santa Monica

December 21, 2008 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...


Great message from you. Continue to enjoy.
Great pictures. Keep it up.

May we have a pro forma itinerary or schedule of where you anticipate being and doing for the next month? That'd be a neat gift for the Zac Packers!

Seize the moment and make each one count. Life near the edge is living at it's best

The Croaker

December 21, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

Chag Sameach, Zac.

And the same to all the Zac Pac!

Chanukkah just started a few hours ago here in CA. I know you're not Jewish, neither am I, but for all of us believers, our goal is to be like the Messiah whenever we can. A shade off topic, maybe, but did you realize that the only person in the Bible who is recorded as celebrating Chanukkah is Yeshua (Jesus)? It's in John 10:22. If Messiah thought it was a good idea, why would I think otherwise?

Anyway, however you're celebrating this season, may your G-d given abilities continue to carry you safely through His world.

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

December 21, 2008 at 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see your having fun in port... a cake with candles too..very cool. i love the pictures..I can see the boom with our writing on it!!
Did you got the box i sent with your b-day gift?
So what are your plans for the rest of your stay?
Enough questions haha. Have a great time and if i don't blog for a few days have a great Christmas Zac and Happy Holidays to everyone!!
Bermuda Dunes CA

December 21, 2008 at 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal, Seattle said...

Hey, Zac --

How about some more writing?


Hopefully your parents will appreciate this nudge as well, as I believe that this voyage is part of your home schooling.

You've sailed half way around the world and so far I'm surprised by how little you've written.

I know ... you've had to worry about things like pirates, staying awake as you navigated the coral reefs and shallows of the Torres Strait, and you've had to risk your life on deck trying to rassle a broken headstay and flogging sail in haystack seas and crazy winds, and you've had to make port without an engine, and you've had to dodge electrical storms in the middle of the night while avoiding ships as well, and without the sweet luxury of sleep you've had to force yourself to stay awake in the crowded shipping lanes off of Durban so you weren't run over by freighters.

That's one heck of a story!

And I bet there is a lot more you could tell us about every one of those events, and a whole lot more.

My hope is that by capturing all of these stories right now, on this blog, while they are still raw and fresh in your mind, you'll later be able to pull together a great book.

When you are at sea, if you can't use a computer because the going is so rough, maybe you can scrawl notes on paper (water proof ink!) ;-) to transcribe while in port -- between doing all the boat maintenance and such.

I've just given the same advice to Mike Perham. After posting a note to him, thought I'd do the same for you. This is just a friendly nudge to get as much down now as you can, so you don't have to recreate it later.

Here's the note I left for Mike:

You are a great writer.

Despite the frustrations -- and in fact, inspired by the frustrations -- would be great to see you posting more blogs, as your time allows.

This will make it easier for you to later pull together a book.

Would be great to hear about what is going well on Gran Canaria. What has been fun, and why has it been fun? Write descriptions so great that your readers feel like we are there.

From your previous blogs, you've got a great writing voice.

Just because you are on land, doesn't mean you can't be writing.

Tell us about the agony of watching technicians fail to find the smoking gun we are all hoping you find and resolve. Tell us about the ectasy of diving or whatever else is going on.

I've had four nonfiction books published, and the best parts of all of them emerge from the notes I make along the way, as I spend months on the road researching and interviewing.

This blog provides a great excuse for you to get those notes on paper so you can pull them together later to create your book.

Here's to Hoping that NKE comes through with a new Autopilot for Christmas . . . And that you safely complete a wonderful voyage.

-- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

December 21, 2008 at 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Zac,

with this nice summer weather in SA you will FLY past East London on your way to Cape Town.
But come close enough to shore , we will wave our flag!


East London
South Africa

December 21, 2008 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Enjoy Durban... go out dancing!

December 22, 2008 at 4:44 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Looks and sounds like you are having a wonderful time. New friends, new places to explore, and new adventures on land! Enjoy it all, live in the moment and have a wonderful time...

I know you'll get back to work on securing Intrepid for the next legs with much help from the Durban supporters, when the time is right...

I think your Christmas will be very jolly!

Take good care, Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

December 22, 2008 at 6:19 AM  
Anonymous EmilyAnne said...


The photos are great. I especially like the one with all of the cards in front of you. Wow, that's a lot!!

I'm starting to think I should have sent a package... hmm..

Anyways, how is the weather in Durban? I finally saw my first (un-accumulating) snow here in Fayetteville. (But I was on top of my friends mansion so I was pretty high up...)

I still think that they should have let you sleep more. I mean, customs can wait, right? JUST KIDDING. Get rested up Zac. Can't have a tired Captain going around the Cape. (Although I'm sure it'll be a piece of cake for you!)

I wasn't worrying a bit over in Durban, so I was "patiently" waiting for a new post :D Maybe NOT so patiently..

Well, sleep well, eat well, (ha! tan well!), hang out, have fun Zac,
and Merry Christmas to all!

Lots of hugs,

Fayetteville, NC

December 22, 2008 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Zac,

It great to know everyone is taking good care of you in Durban. It sounds like your having a lot of fun also.

I hope you enjoy reading everyone's cards and gifts. I'm sure you'll be reading cards for quite a while.

If it gets very hot and humid just do more swimming.

Enjoy Land,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

December 22, 2008 at 6:48 AM  
Blogger STEVE B said...


Great photos! With the foreboding sky Intrepid looked a little lonely sailing into port but it sure doesn't sound lonely on shore! I sometimes wonder if you are tired of sailing but it seems that every stop you are back on the water having fun in another boat. Hope you have a great stay. Make sure you review the type of nuts that were used in your engine before you attempt the next leg.

For those of the Zacpac gripped by snow or cold or both it sure sounds wonderful that the mall was too hot to shop for Christmas so Zac just went for a swim.

Swim on Zac!

Birmingham, AL

December 22, 2008 at 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

Hi Zac.
Looking at the pictures - there is a German boat next to you about the same size as yours. Do you have conact with them?

December 22, 2008 at 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cap't Zac,
What a wonderful,ongoing voyage!
Been following it from before "day-one".
Straight wakes!
Mike S.

December 22, 2008 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Glen said...

I no longer have doubts, people who are born with their own star and others are born to crash.
You ZAC (my virtual Friend), you have been born with a very great star!
But that is not yours merit, but it is and in very great measurement that you make it shine as no other star… CONGRATULATIONS!
I hope you have a very good Christmas in Durban and YOU like the present that I was send you!!
If not, well, Sorry… BUT YOU CAN TELL ME
I wish you a Very, Very GOOD CHRISTMAS from Buenos Aires

@ Doulas Pistone, I wish you have a very good Christmas and spend your time between all the people that you love…
Thanks for push me to write in English… I appreciate that …
The things is that I don’t have a plenty of time to write even in Spanish like I us to be, that was the principal reason that I don’t post it very soon, and when I was posted I make it in my natural language, because is more faster to me..

@ Anita… HOLAAAAaaaaa como te va, espero que andes muy bien, y preparándote para esta fiesta de Navidad, allí con nieve, aquí con calor… y mucho jejej.
Helloooooo, how are you?? I hope you are fine and in the final of the Christmas preparative, there with snow, here with a hot weather… a lot of hot weather … jejej
Like I said to DOUGLAS; I no have plenty of time to write, I just right now in the middle of my preparative to go to my ranch for a entire month (January) and I have to buy different things to deliver to there and have ready all the things here in Bs.As at the same time, that include, finish on time my works and the other social activities…
Well I think that is all for the moment, I write to you as soon as possible and until departure to my ranch..
@ BILL MAN… WHERE ARE YOU???? Come one; ho is gone cut Zach hair when the times come? Well I miss your persons in the blog
@ ZAC Family (MUM & DAD)

@ To the ZAC PAC, Con motivo de las fiestas venideras les deseo lo mejor del mundo, y solo ese deseo es para personas tan especiales como lo son UDS… GOOD BLESS YOU ALL

Glen Ingouville

December 22, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Sylvia said...

Hello Captain Zac,

What an awesome accomplishment! With each adversity you have persisted and conquered.

Glad you are enjoying Durban time. I have enjoyed vicariously traveling along.

While on vacation, my daughter and I sailed on the Andaman Sea. With the two of us it was a challenge on a sunny day, so I cannot imagine what it would be like for you in the adverse situations you have faced.

It has been mentioned you would be making 3 more stops in South Africa. Since making port seems so difficult with the tides and currents, why is it you will stop this often?

Prayers will be following you as you round Cape of Good Hope. God's blessings be with you and your family.

Have a wonderful Christmas, Sylvia in Cherry Valley

December 22, 2008 at 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Great to hear you're enjoying Durban, Zac! Thanks also for the pics you posted as they're always appreciated!

@ Daveh, Grant, or any of the other sailors out there: please discuss the trepidation that Zac is feeling as he approaches the next leg from Durban to Cape Town. I believe you've discussed it before, but if you'll indulge me once more and be specific about the conditions and challenges that Zac will be facing.

Also, I happened to see that guy from the yacht race with the broken hip on the news last night as he was plucked off his boat and taken ashore for treatment. I forget which network covered the story...

December 22, 2008 at 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awsum! I see you're wearing the "booby" shirt! Merry Christmas
Kodiak Mike

December 22, 2008 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Great post. Sounds like Durban and it's people are being very kind to you. You've had such an extraordinary adventure so far. It's been great fun to be a part of it. Have a wonderful Christmas Zac!

Zac Pac & Team Sunderland,
May everyone's holiday season be very blessed!

Tucson, AZ

December 22, 2008 at 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Halle said...

Hey zac sounds like a pretty fantastic time. I love those pictures of intrepid, I may have to paint one of them. If I do I'll be sure to send you one of them!

Keep going strong!

- Halle S. In Oregon

Skipper of the Dread Pirate Roberts

December 22, 2008 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Zac & The Pac,

@ Glen, thanks for writing in English now everyone can understand. I hope you also have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.

Thanks for taking the time and writing in English.

@ Bill Mann, I hope your on-line again very soon? It's been a very long time since I have heard anything from you. Maybe your sharpening your scissors for Zac's return, LOL.

Take Care,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

December 22, 2008 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

Hello All!
Zac, thanks for the wonderful photos and post, we LOVE hearing from you!
It's great how you spend so much time on Interpid and STILL want to sail on other boats when in port...I think someone else wrote something similar...and I agree...LOL!!

Worry looks around
Fear looks back
Faith looks up.

You have God's angels about you, and all of the Zac Pac praying for you, plus the skills and knowledge to get you home. God has plans for you young man; I have every belief he will use you to do great things. Put your worries in HIs hands; be still and listen, He'll be right there by your side. <><

@ Glen.....Hello!! I have missed you my friend; it was good to hear you are well. Your English has gotten better and better. Keep at it!

We have about 12-13 inches of snow here, it is VERY cold with winds gusting to 30's AWESOME! Went out with the snow-shoes yesterday and had quite the hike..good times for sure! If anyone would like to see photos from my little corner of the world, there is a site: My little Sheltie Parker is pictured on the front page for today and if you click on Seneca County you can view photos others have sent in from the storm.

Merry Christmas, Happy holidays all!!

Captain SV "Wombat"
Waterloo, NY

December 22, 2008 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Bill Mann said...

Doug, Anita, Tomi and all the rest of the pack that sent emails, thanks.

No, I have not run away. I was just zapped by the fires earlier this month and had a spike at the factory which wiped out my server, my powder coat gun and one of my welders. Been playing catch-up ever since. And of course everyone that ordered furniture or exercise equipment wanted it either the day before they ordered it or or the day before that.

Busy now celebrating Hanukkah and getting ready for Christmas for the two kids with me. They are busy putting up the "Hanukkah Bush". My son Robert is getting ready to visit his parents in Idaho for the Holidays.

I will be back up to my old self right after the Rose Parade.

I want to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone a Joyous Christmas and a Healthy, Peaceful, Prosperous 2009 as we all count down the days until Zac returns.
Bill Mann

December 22, 2008 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Hi Zac,

Nice pictures! That cake was 'sweet;' probably in more ways than one!

Was meeting Marta at the clubs Christmas party kind of like serendipity? Very cool!

Are you still thinking of getting a kitty to keep you company? Probably you want to wait until you are done with your journey to the Cape of Good Hope. It must be nice to be able to just do what needs to be done and do some sightseeing without worrying about what to do with kitty, but then I recon the little tyke could just stay on the Intrepid for a tad while you are out and about. They are independent creatures after all.

Do 'fun' things!


December 23, 2008 at 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal, Seattle said...


Melanie asked:

"@ Daveh, Grant, or any of the other sailors out there: please discuss the trepidation that Zac is feeling as he approaches the next leg from Durban to Cape Town. I believe you've discussed it before, but if you'll indulge me once more and be specific about the conditions and challenges that Zac will be facing."

This is a good question, as I think just about every sailor on this site will be happy when Zac waves goodbye to the Cape of Good Hope. Whenever you are on the ocean you are exposed to potential dangers (as well as all sorts of wonderful stuff) but when rounding a major headland -- and the Cape of Good Hope, along with Cape Horn, stands out as being one of the most notorious headlands on the planet, you can encounter intense wind and nasty waves.

The good news is that the Cape isn't always stormy. In fact, as I watched the weather charts during Zac's passage to Durban, I rarely saw winds of more than 30 knots -- which can be plenty miserable, but aren't beyond what Zac has already gone through many times. And often the winds were a mere 15 to 20 knots -- ideal.

As soon as I read Melanie's note I thought, let's look at the weather again. So I went to and clicked on the "Indian Ocean" button along the left of the screen, and then clicked on "South Africa to Seychelles."

This takes you to a rather odd looking map of the south end of Africa, including Cape of Good Hope.

The map looks odd, but is easy to read.

Unfortunately, when I went there at 3 a.m. Pacific Coast Time on Dec. 23, I saw exactly what we don't want Zac to encounter: A lot of red, orange, and yellow colors. There is a color chart along the bottom of the screen that shows that the light blue to dark blue (5 knots to 20 knots) is what we want for Zac (15 would be perfect).

Dark Green and Light Green show wind of 20 to 30 knots, which is getting tougher, and will make the waves bigger, but is still not a major problem, though a sustained 30 knots of wind can give rise to some nasty seas.

The real problem comes with the orange bands (35 to 40 knots of wind), the dark orange (40 to 45 knots) and the red 45 knots to 50 knots, and ... Yikes! The purple!

As I look at the weather chart from the warmth and safety of my home next to Puget Sound in Seattle, I see a major storm heading for Cape of Good Hope. Click on the "Animate" button or on the "Next" button or "Previous" button and you can roll through the forecast in 3-hour increments.

In addition to the colored bands on the screen, you'll see some chicken scratch symbols that look like musical notes. Think of these as flag poles. Each streamer on the top of the flag pole stands for 10 knots of wind. In the red zone off the south end of Africa, just east of Cape of Good Hope, and heading toward Durban, I see flag poles with 4 and half steamers, which means a forecast of 45 knots of wind -- an ugly, brutal, storm.

The foot of the flag staff points in the direction the wind is flowing to. You can see kind of a cyclinc clockwise rotation around the system, with winds coming from the south, off of Cape of Good Hope, then rounding to Westerly, and then rotating south. Advance the storm to Christmas Eve, and the core of the storm heads West, deeper into the Indian Ocean, while a 35-knot band of wind hugs the shore as it heads past Durban. Believe me, 35 knots, "on the nose" meaning that Zac would have to tack back and forth, bashing into major waves, and into the face of the gale, would be miserable and slow going.

Now, scroll down the page. It has 3 maps. The first one we've talked about -- it shows the wind strength and direction.

The second map shows barometic pressure, and for the science minded you can look at the rings of barometic pressure - the isobars. What you don't want to see is a whole bunch of isobars stacked together -- this means a major shift in pressure. And you can see how crowded together the isobars are for this 45-knot storm, quickly dropping from a high pressure of 1002, just south of Cape of Good Horn, to 996, just south.

Now ... scroll down to the third and final map. This shows wave height and wave direction. Same type of color coding. Wave heights are given in meters -- so just multiply the numbers by 3 feet, and it is close enough. The light green zones immediately off the cape at this point show 15-foot waves. Scary. A bit to the south the waves are yellow (18 feet tall) and orange (24 feet tall), and the arrows show that these waves would be running against Zac.

So . . . if someone were trying to round the cape from Durban right now, leaving plenty of searoom off the coast for safety, they could be in 45-knot winds, bashing into 24-foot seas. Walk down the street, look at a 2-story house, and imagine it as a wall of water heading your way. And that there is another wave right behind it, and then another, and anther, for hours -- or days.

And, it can get hugely worse when you consider the confused seas that happen around a headland, as the Pacific Ocean meets tha Indian Ocean, which is what the Cape of Good Hope is all about.

And, making it all worse than that (Potentially) is something called "Rogue Waves" or "Freak Waves."

Rogue waves are mathematical accidents. They occur when one wave gets out of synch with another, catches up with it, merges with it, and then merges with another to create a wave that instead of 24 feet tall is 36 feet tall, or 48 feet tall, or worse.

Earlier Zac wrote about the currents he hit off of Durban. Whenever the winds go in the opposite direction of the current, more chaos can happen as the waves become bigger and steeper.

So this is the kind of stuff that you might be worried about prior to a trip around the Cape of Good Hope.


Zac is being advised by some weather gurus who know how to study these maps and you can believe that Zac isn't going to be heading out into a 45-knot storm.

A common strategy is to "travel between the lows" -- meaning that you wait until one low pressure (nasty weather) system goes through, and find a window in which the next one isn't forecast for days, and then you make your passage.

Zac will be well advised.


Now go back to the buttons on the top left of the page, and click on South Atlantic. For this is where Zac will be after rounding the Cape.

You get a great view of the nasty storm currently off of the Cape of Good Hope, as we are in a larger scale, now. But the good news is what you see north and west: nearly all light blue -- though there is a band of 30-to-40 knot wind a few hundred miles offshore.

But basically once beyond the Cape, things should be getting better and staying better. I'm hoping to read lots of blogs about Zac sailing in perfect 15-knot winds. I'm expecting we'll also hear from him when he is having to put up with just 5 knots of wind which will be frustratingly slow.


In these days of calm sailing, I'm hoping that Zac can fill us in with greater depth about the trip he's taking -- including revisiting points he has already posted about.

If he had a writing instructor looking over his shoulder as he wrote his posts, the teacher would be saying: "Zac! What did it FEEL like? What scared the heck out of you? What was the worst moment of this leg of the journey? What was the best? Why? Why? Why?"

The instructor would say: "Zac, I wasn't aboard. You have to PUT ME THERE! What does it feel like to be on a boat in the ocean? What do you dream of? What is it like when you wake up in the morning and remember you are sailing alone around the world?

What does it feel like to be awakened in the middle of the night by a squall and know that nobody can do a single thing to save the sails, mast, boat, and your life, except for you?

What does exhaustion feel like?

What goes through your mind when you've got lightning in front of you and a freighter behind you and waves all around you?

When the headstay broke. What went through your mind? How long did you fight to get that sail under control? Were you mad at it? Did you take it personally?

When did you decide you needed to sleep and you couldn't continue that fight? What was it like to wake up safe in the morning, and find the winds had eased?

And on, and on, and on.

Tell me a story.

That's what a writing teacher -- or a book editor -- would ask of him.

Well, it's pushing 4 a.m. for me.

I'm safely ensconced at home, but also snowed in, and I've got 3 young children to help make Christmas happen for. I better get some sleep so I can borrow my neighbor's car in the morning. My Jaguar doesn't do well in the snow, and today I helped him put chains on the front tires of his Saab.

Always adventures. Whether crossing an ocean or trying to figure out how to get Santa Claus to make an appearance when the roads are closed, more snow is on the way, and your two 6-year-old twins and 8-year-old still believe (thank God) that snow just makes it easier for Santa to do his work.

-- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

December 23, 2008 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

@ Anita -

Great pics of the snow, but not for me... HOWEVER, Ms. Skipper LOVES to travel up north when it's like that.......... sooooooooooo off I go....... [laughing]

I always say - "Dave don't go where the coconuts won't grow"...

I'm afraid our Wire Fox Terrier would tuck and run if he looked out the door at those conditions!

Daveh & Skipper

December 23, 2008 at 7:10 AM  
Anonymous CindyinCincy said...

Thanks for the photos Zac -- they are great! When you get a chance, please update us on your upcoming itinerary. I'm so happy to see you have friends in Durban -- enjoy!

@ Bill Mann -- Welcome back! What a relief to "hear" your voice again. Best wishes and many prayers for a blessed holiday.

@ Glen -- Buenas dias and thank you for the extra effort to post in English. Your English is sooo much better than my Spanish. jejej
God bless you, too, and Feliz Navidad!

@ Anita -- Thanks for sharing your snow. I am so disappointed that it is supposed to rain here tomorrow. I will just have to look at your pictures and dream!

@ All -- Wherever you are, whatever the conditions, I wish you the warmth and love of family and friends. CindyinCincy

December 23, 2008 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Thanks to Grant Fjermedal, Seattle, for the explanation of wind and waves and for the link to passage weather. That will be an easy site to study.

I was thinking while Zac was heading for Durban that it didn't look too bad at that time around the Cape and I was thinking...'Go now Zac, just head for Good Hope.' But then, all those cards and letters waiting in Durban...and they Point Yacht Club awaiting his arrival...:-)

I think Zac is writing, but we are getting little sneak peaks. We may just have to wait for the book and the documentary.

Zac has 'True Grit.' I remember once when I was just about his age and I was water skiing on a small lake behind a boat pulling two of us. The whitecaps that day were getting pretty big (maybe four or five feet:-) and I got so tired meeting them and jumping over them. One particularly big wave was coming and I was so tired, I just let go of the rope! (No sharks to worry about...) Zac can't let go. With 15 and 20 foot confused waves, he can't let go. Picturing him out there tethered by a mere rope trying to 'right' his sails in those conditions...well,you know...I will be glad when he is on the Atlantic saying "There is like...noooo wind." A little push is nice though. And I think the closer he gets to the United States, the faster he will want to go. That's how it is when I drive 'home' to my birthplace anyway.

We were getting some snow here again this morning, but it has quit now and the birds are back begging for more bread and birdseed!

Parker is the cutest Anita! I am going to the other 'Parkers' website now and see what he's up to. I wish I could watch him open his present from Zac!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!


December 23, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

@ Grant

Great post, thanks for taking the lead on that request... Not sure if you've ever used the Grib product from NOAA, requires registration, but it's free and I like the ability to change forcast intervals from 3 hours to 24hrs,then animate out up to 7 days, you can really see the storms (lows and highs) moving through...

Thanks again!

December 23, 2008 at 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Wheat said...

Im heading cross country...just wanted to say Merry Christmas to the Sunderlands!!

December 23, 2008 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Axel said...

@ Grant.
Thanks for the link and all the detailed info. How long are those waves down there. In the north Atlantic I know they are about 750 feet long (250 meters)
Merry Christmas aal

December 23, 2008 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Fulgum said...

Hi, Zac. Sounds like you're having a great time. I think it's so great how many friends you're making on your adventure. Many of them will probably be lifelong friends and the memories you are all creating will last a lifetime.

Hope you have a Merry Christmas in Durban!



December 23, 2008 at 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WISHING YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS ZACK. I have been watching your progress as you sail around the world,and I am totally impressed.

December 23, 2008 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

O.K. sportfans Merry Christmas, Happy Honnakah. Santa arrived early for me with a Chitown Bears win! Jen Aniston will have to be next year...
All the best..Be safe
Zac, I hope Santa brings u some beam reaching winds to get U around the corner.
"It lound"

December 23, 2008 at 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks GRANT for the weather charts-links.

Here in East London , South Africa, we had a storm on Monday evening, lots of wind...
I see Zac "hopping" from Durban via East London stop, or Port Elisabeth skip bad weather in the next few days (see charts) or picking out the right time between the cities...

Zac, if you intend stopping in East London, here is my gsm: 082-5567-200 ( Will )

December 23, 2008 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Tomi said...

Happy Christmas & Chanukah Capt Zac, Team Sunderland & ZacPac!

Warm Fuzzy HUGS!

December 23, 2008 at 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac....Happy Christmas.

The Sunderlands....Happy Christmas to you all!

Zacpackers....wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.

UK friend

December 24, 2008 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Lawrence said...

Merry Christmas, Zac!

I've been following your trip and blog since you left California and find it incredible. You're an amazing young man and inspiration not only to young adults but to all people in that anyone can accomplish anything and realize their dreams.

At 51, I just obtained my BS degree, took the law school admission test and will hopefully start in a law school in September. It's been a life-long dream for me and I admire you for your perseverance.

My own 3 kids have also followed your blog and admire you as well. Your trip has been an inspiration to them.

You're in our prayers for a safe trip and look forward to the coming months and reading your comments and seeing the pictures of the destinations you arrive at.

Stay safe, be well and Merry Christmas and the best for a Happy New Year.

Lawrence Falco
Stamford, CT

December 24, 2008 at 6:40 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Zac, the Sunderlands, all the support team, and the Zac Pac!

Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

December 24, 2008 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Check out the Santa Tracker on Norad/Google! Now this is some fun navigation tracking! ;-)

December 24, 2008 at 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Zac! You have all my admiration for the great adventure you are living and for beeing such a brave man... I really would like to be as free as you are! So, rest, go ahead and good luck! Remember that the experience you are living will make you much stronger and will improve all the aspects of your personality (and will remain in history, of course!), therefore be happy: I'm sure you are totally able to end successfully your adventure.
Merry Christmas!
P.S. My grand-father met Robin Lee Graham, who circumnavigated the globe very young too. He was offered fabulous jobs and money, but he said he wants to learn with how little not with how much he can live...Bravo!

Marianna LB

December 24, 2008 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger johnnyBgood said...

Wishing You and Those Who are Dear to You a Joyous Holiday and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
May God Bless Us All.
john baker/w hollywood/ca/USofA

December 24, 2008 at 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac, I hope that you and your family, friends and Intrepid have a most joyous Christmas there in Africa. A fellow sailor, Marc

December 24, 2008 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to All......

December 24, 2008 at 10:42 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to my fellow bloggers. We enjoy a wonderful group of people here and I wish you all the happiest of holidays!

@ Grant- "GULP" I greatly appreciate your taking the time to explain my question. I have a much greater understanding now and will look forward to Zac making that part of his leg during the "perfect" weather window in time and realizing that he'll be challenged in any event.

December 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Whitten said...

Hey Zac I'm glad you are doing fine. I have already started that story. I hope you still keep safe.

Have a Merry CHRISTmas.


December 24, 2008 at 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Covingtonkat said...

Yo Ho Ho Ho, Cap'n Zac!

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the Sunderlands, and to all the Zac Pac around the world!

Congratulations, Zac, on reaching Durban and having a safe port with new friends for what surely will be one of your most unforgettable Christmases ever!

Just think of all the "firsts" you've accomplished!

You are indeed blessed on this journey and with all of us there with you in spirit, just keep on keepin' on - spreading your special spirit wherever you go!

Any mistletoe in Durban?!? ~wink wink~ Or cheeseburgers??!?!

Fa la la la la, la la la LA,

December 24, 2008 at 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Glad to hear you're doing well. Praying that your next part goes smoothly. Blessings to you all.

Elissa R. Walther
Houston, TX

December 24, 2008 at 6:29 PM  
Anonymous rory gogan singapore said...

Need help..a few blogs ago when Zac was heading into Rodriguez Island someone posted a link about 3 guys that did a circumnavigation. They were from Seattle. I have gone back and looked for the link in the blog but cant find it. Just wondering if anyone might know it.

December 24, 2008 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Sherna Taylor said...

Thanks for the awesome pics, i was really glad to see them. You sure dont look like the kid who left MDR 6 long months ago. This is one Christmas you will always remember.

Thanks for all the explanations, now i dont have to try to read up all that stuff,
I was thinking that the journey into Durban was not such an easy one, hence the journey out nad around the cape will be a challenge as well.
Loved all your questions for "The book"and look forward to Zac's answer

Look forward to your $0.02 if you have anything else to add to Grants well written info.

To the Sunderland Family; Merry Xmas to you, your table will empty at one seating, but your heart should be truly proud of Zac's accomplishments

To the Zac pack,
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanza and to those who dont celebrate any of the Holidays enjoy your time with your friend family


December 24, 2008 at 8:51 PM  
Anonymous canadian_meisjes said...

Merry Christmas, Zac - also to your family.. more than ever as I'm sure you'll miss each other tomorrow. God's blessing follow you in the new year.
~For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord.~
~Jessica and Rosemary from Alberta, Canada
PS. I think I saw our envelope in the pile of cards on the table in the photo! :)

December 24, 2008 at 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Zac!
Have a great time in Durban.

December 24, 2008 at 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Bill Jamison said...

Merry Christmas Zac!

December 25, 2008 at 12:25 AM  
Anonymous EmilyAnne said...

Merry Christmas Zac! Hope you have lots of fun and great weather today!

Lots of hugs,

Fayetteville, NC

December 25, 2008 at 8:21 AM  
Anonymous JiffyLube said...

It's Christmas here now (although you already had it), and I'm wishing you a Merry Christmas Zac.

December 25, 2008 at 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Hi Zac,
Enjoyed seeing your photos and reading your post. Sounds like you're having a fantastic time in Durban. Hope your Christmas is one with great memories.

Thanks for your very informative post. It helps us to understand the challenges that Zac might be facing on his next leg. We pray that all goes well.

Merry Christmas to All!

Dick & Gin

December 25, 2008 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Zac and family,

Thank you for the nice signed photographs and calendar, I really like them!!! Thank you also for the really COOL t-shirts! What a great surprise. It's really fun having such a cool buddy who lives on a boat and travels the world. It kind of doesn't sound real.

My brother and I had a really great Christmas. I got a new guitar and private lessons! Oh...and did I tell you that I am writing a book about a monkey that travels around the world? You inspired that by the way. I'll send you a first edition signed copy after some smart publishing company publishes it! (smile) My brother is helping me and my mom is illustrating it. Did I tell you my mom is an art teacher?

Anyway.....I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas!!!


Your Buddy Parker

December 25, 2008 at 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas! Sounds like everything is going well and that your having fun! We are praying for you and your family! Safe travels!

Rebecca Z

December 25, 2008 at 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Zac, We've just returned home from 5 months sailing in the Bahamas as a family. Me, husband, two girls 14 and 16. Let's just say your story hits close to home. Your tale about entering Durban made me laugh, cringe, and roll my eyes at the same time. Safe travels and we'll keep up with your story now that we know about you. The girls would have loved meeting you while cruising since almost all the other kids were between 5 and 10! Happy Holidays, The Burgies

December 25, 2008 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Merry Christmas Zac!

December 25, 2008 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Zac!

God Bless you bro!

Peace for the holidays.. Enjoy Cape Town! SK8 time! :)

Chris KB6FYG

December 25, 2008 at 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zac: hope you had a cool yule and will have a frantic first. can you give some idea as to next leg of trip

December 25, 2008 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Birgit Rudolph/Dirk Krehl said...

Zac, here my late Christmas wishes to you from Rodrigues Island. By the way, you have not been he last circumnavigator here, last Saturday an English yacht came in. They had been in Cocos Keeling before and were late due to some repairs...

Today is December 26, 4 years after the Tsunami in Indian Ocean which killed 230 000 people and we don't know how many animals. To commemorate this day, I have posted a sort of a very different Christmas story here...

No, it has nothing to do with sailing (except of the Indian Ocean), and yes, it has something to do with unusual stories, friendship, rescue...So, for those who Owen and Mzee.

Zac, all the best to you for the time being, it was nice to see the new photos.Enjoy your time!

December 26, 2008 at 1:40 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Everyone,

I hope all the Zac Pac had a great Christmas. So many names to mention so I'll keep this general. I hope everyone's New Year will be filled with cheer and promise.

@ Zac, I hope you're having a great time, enjoy yourself!!!

Happy New Years,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

December 26, 2008 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Mann said...

As someone who has never really liked the sea, cannot swim and used to get seasick standing on the trailer of my boat at Marina Del Rey as the Chicken Ship III was being lowered into the water, I was wondering Zac why you love the sea so much and are willing to spend one of your most important teenage years away from your family and friends.

I think I have found the answer in some of the writings of Prince Phillip. Prince Phillip said that the sea is“an extraordinary master or mistress. It has such extraordinary moods that sometimes you feel this is the only sort of life – and 10 minutes later you’re praying for death. If you go to sea in the Merchant Navy, or in the Navy, or as a yachtsman, you are in a completely different environment and so you have to function in a different way and relate to people in a different way.”

Well Zac, you certainly function in a different way and relate to people in a different way than most teenagers.

Although the father of the future King of England was never in the Merchant Navy, he did serve in active combat duty during the war, mostly in the Pacific, but also in the Mediterranean and is an avid yachtsman.

So sail on Zac, thou art in great company. As you sail into 2009 you have my utmost respect and support. Wishing you a shana tova, a Healthy Peaceful Prosperous New Year.

Bill Mann

December 26, 2008 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS ZAC!! A little late considering your location, but I have been out in the back country and just got in. Hope you had a wonderful day filled with adventure and new friends. So here's to you having a wonderful and Happy New Year!
Blessings, Bob in OKC

December 26, 2008 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember the Marshall Islands stopover?
A state of emergency has been declared on the Marshall Islands due to severe flooding. The Pacific atoll, south west of Hawaii, has been hit by massive waves resulting from storm surges in combination with high tides. The streets of the capital Majuro are under water and hundreds of people have been forced to abandon their homes.

President Litokwa Tomeing says the flooding once again shows how vulnerable the Marshall Islands are to the effects of global warming. Much of the atoll is less than two metres above sea level.

December 26, 2008 at 11:46 AM  

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