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:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Captain Zac,
Congratulations on crossing the Indian Ocean and your soon arrival in Africa. Prayers have been with you as you rode the waves and thanks to God for His protective care. It has been a joy to travel with you vicariously on your quest.
Godspeed, Sylvia in Cherry Valley

December 10, 2008 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Fulgum said...

Hi, Zac. Sounds like you're "riding up a storm!!!" (SIGH!)

Sounds like you're making great progress. You'll be in Durbin Friday (our Thursday)? Well, steady as she goes!

The food you're eating sounds pretty bad! The only thing that sounds worse is the freeze dried stuff the astronauts eat. Although I AM intrigued by that curry. I'm a curry freak. I eat it every place it is offered and the styles range from Indian to Thailand to Japanese to Chinese. Where did you pick that up?

You need some Clif bars until you get decent food again. How can I get it to you? I'll buy you a package.


Looking forward to your report from Durbin.



December 10, 2008 at 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to timing, starting your engine to make sure you arrive in daylight is so very acceptable in anybody's criteria, that I, anybody would encourage you to step on the pedal to ensure a safe and thoughtful arrival...
Always arrive safe and alive...
Keep your eye on the ball, Dusty

December 10, 2008 at 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh....this is all so exciting. Africa here he comes!
Good to read of your thoughts and manoeuvres away from the
Happy for you Zac.

UK friend

December 11, 2008 at 2:16 AM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal, Seattle said...

Big Adventures make for Great Writing. Had me on the edge of my seat. That was smart of you to head away from the lightning. Interesting to hear that the big ships were doing the same.

Have a great visit in South Africa. And then sail around the Cape of Good Hope and . . . head for home.

December 11, 2008 at 2:22 AM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal, Seattle said...

Post Script:

After reading your "A Roar in the Night" post I went to, clicked on Indian Ocean - South Africa to Secychelles, and used your coordinates to place you on the weather map.

Kind of eerie. Your coordinates perfectly align with circle of 30-knot winds that is itself surrounded by a large circle of 20 to 25 knot winds. Looked like the weather system was about 150 miles across and you were right in the center of it.

Good fun for armchair sailors.

Forecast is for the wind to drop back toward 10 to 20 knots which should provide a glorious ride into Durban for you.

December 11, 2008 at 2:35 AM  
Blogger Clay said...

Ahoy Zac,

8 knots is just about as fast as it gets, almost as fast as the near 8 months at sea. Almost halfway I'd say.

Continued success for sure,

December 11, 2008 at 3:33 AM  
Blogger Uncle Hectic said...

It sounds like you're making great progress. I'm glad to read that you may have some time to relax; there's no point in making a trip like this if you can't enjoy it. I was just reading up on Durban, South Africa and it sounds like a great place to spend a little time. Nice weather, lots of tourist attractions, history and probably some very interesting food choices. I also read that the main Port of Natal was named about 500 years ago and means Christmas in Portuguese, which is timely. Have fun there, you deserve it!

December 11, 2008 at 4:19 AM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

Ah yes The 5 Second rule! (not to be confused with the 6 second rule of food hitting the ground/still safe to eat). The 5 sec rule states that when U see a flash and if U can count to 5 before U hear thunder then U are safe enough away. Dubious at best because the 5second rule can be trumped by Murphy's Law which states the horse hockey can hit the fan at any second.

December 11, 2008 at 4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac, you were a lot closer than you think. For each second of time, you can approximate 0.2 miles of distance (two-tenths). Of course, if that's too much math at 3am, just take the time and divide by 5 for miles (divide by 3 for kilometers).

Lightening can travel 6 miles in front of a storm. If there is less than 30 seconds between the flash and the thunder, you are within that 6 mile danger range.

Take care. Looking forward to hearing about Durbin.

Michele in Boston
(Belmont, MA)

December 11, 2008 at 5:17 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

I just checked one of my Global Surfing Forcast sites and the good news is entering durban with a 4' swell is a good thing, as compared to MUCH bigger seas that Durban / S Africa gets...

Daveh & Skipper

December 11, 2008 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Zac & The Pac,

It's great that you finally have some wind. It sounds like your getting real close and hopefully by the time you read this you'll be in Durban enjoying some Steak & Lobster!!!

Two seconds between the lightning and thunder is getting a little too close for comfort. But like always you did the right thing and alter your course out of immediate danger. Great going Zac.

The shipping traffic I'm sure will stay heavy so please stay alert. Have a safe journey into Durban and be careful. Enjoy your time on the ocean, what's left of it for now.

Sail In,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

December 11, 2008 at 6:17 AM  
Blogger davejb851 said...

So good to hear your across the Indian Ocean. The currents, storms and various other concerns are legendary. You continue to amaze the world with your determination, your ability and your maturity.
Two weeks to Christmas, sounds like a good time to put your feet on some "hard" for a little while, a soft and comfortable bed, warm showers, and good R&R.
Hopefully some of the family is capable of being there....yet you've done so well with minimal contact....not that Dad is minimal, but you know what I mean.

I check on you daily, but have tried to let others write in.
But I need to say, I am so incredibly proud of all you've done, and will do.
You've persevered, overcome, and conquered adversity. You've crossed oceans, put so many miles behind you, seen so many things, and met so many people. None that you have touched, or touched you will be the same.
Keep on keeping on.

My calendar arrived yesterday...just a small way I might help, and share in your quest.
Durban here he comes!

December 11, 2008 at 6:33 AM  
Anonymous EmilyAnne said...

Stay safe Zac!! Well, at least your coming into Durban fast,and it isn't as terribly slow as when you set out from Mauritus. I'm sure all of us will be relieved once you get back onto solid earth again.

Lots of hugs,
Fayetteville, NC

December 11, 2008 at 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Have a great time while in port..doesn't sound like you have repairs this time?
What are your plans for Christmas?
Don't forget to get your belated birthday gifts from the Yacht club..i hope it made it OK.
Have fun and be safe
Bermuda Dunes CA

December 11, 2008 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Congratulations on another successful leg (I'm assuming you are there by now). Time now for some good rest, plenty of food and discovering yet another part of the world. And of course making new friends.
Will you stay in Durbin through Christmas?
Stay safe and enjoy!
Tucson, AZ

December 11, 2008 at 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude- think about it....a big juicy cheesburger and fries with a chocolate milkshake......congrats on taming the Indian Ocean.
Kodiak Mike

December 11, 2008 at 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Thanks for answering my question, although I'm sure many others had the same one on their minds.

I'm glad to hear that you don't feel pressured to hit the sea right away and can take some time, perhaps a couple weeks, to enjoy some well deserved R&R and feed your soul on all things Durban (i.e. warm food, showers, bed, and making new friends).

I was just looking at my trust Reploge globe and turned it to the left to see just how far you've traveled; WOW! You're quickly closing in on the home stretch and I'm so grateful for your safe travels in spite of storms, squalls, lightning, etc.. You have been truly blessed and I feel blessed to observe your journey around the world.

Can't wait to see some pics from Durban. I must say, my heart swells with pride and emotion whenever I see that one photo of you and Intrepid arriving safely into a new and different port. She's a great old girl and if I could wrap my arms around her to thank her, I would! Her nickname should be "semper fi" which means; always faithful!

December 11, 2008 at 8:09 AM  
Anonymous CovingtonKat said...

Yo, Cap’n Zac! Another ocean…another continent…Y~A~W~N...

Just kidding, of course! You are aMAZing! And we are all sooooo proud of you and how far you’ve gone on your journey.

I work for a global company based in Bellevue, Washington …in fact “International” is part of its name and in our elevator lobby there is a huge mural map of the world on one wall. Every day, I walk by this mural and look at it, thinking about where you are right then. And especially, now that you are past the halfway point, I am blown away by how far you have sailed in the more than aptly named Intrepid.

Happy belated Birthday, Zac - I hope you enjoy your visit in Durban. I understand (from coworkers who have traveled there) that is is a very beautiful and interesting city. I just know that the local Yachties will embrace you with open arms and show you around and feed you until you can’t eat any more! Have a safe and great time!

@ Rory - your posts ALWAYS put a smile on my face
@ daveh - we are all so lucky that you are a Zac Pac’er!
@ mark n adino - where are you?
@ bill mann - and where are you too?
@ Kodiak Mike - You beat me to the cheeseburger comment!!!
@ fellow Zac Pac members - I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!


December 11, 2008 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger jlh said...

Hey Zac,
Sounds like you had a very exciting night. We're so glad you were able to turn away from the lightening. Interesting the big ships were too. Good move.

@Rory: LOL-loved the 5 sec. rules!

Zac, I hope you get some wonderful meals in Durban. You have not been eating very well! Canned mac and cheese? Yuck! How about a steak? Hamburger?

So exciting that you are almost across the Indian Ocean! Congratulations.

Always in our prayers...

Jennifer and Ben
Sherman Oaks, CA

December 11, 2008 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger johnnyBgood said...

hey zac --- great sailing kiddo! are almost there. enjoy the sights and all that SA has to offer.
you are in our prayers....always.
john baker/w hollywood/ca/USofA

December 11, 2008 at 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Troy said...

A restaurant named "Wimpy" probably makes good burgers! This could be a destination for you Zac after suffering canned Mac & Cheese. Ugh. Durban looks like a great town, rich with culture and natural beauty. Have a great time!

Modesto, CA

Wimpy/Golden Grill Restaurant

December 11, 2008 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Wow almost there!!! what a milestone. I like the steak and lobster comments!!! Yea BOY!!!! Good luck Skipper...and enjoy your arrival. I bet you get mobbed by the press.

December 11, 2008 at 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Liz S said...

Hi Zac!!
We are soooo very excited for you... Yeah for SA!
I'm a crazy weather junkie, I love storms. Not that we get anything exciting here in Simi! Although, It is supposed to get into the 50's here shortly... Anyway, your description of what you passed through sounded so exciting, fun and scary all at once. Great job on your maneuvers
You have done such an amazing job!
Now for your time in Durbin........relax,enjoy and soak it up.
With Love,Hugs & Good Vibes,
Liz and Family

@ Rory........ glad to see you back, your posts ALWAYS make me laugh

December 11, 2008 at 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac,
Hope you are there safely, let us know so we can all sleep tonight.
Thank-you for the answer on the Mac and Cheese, Cocos Keeling? Must be some canned Australian thing. Yuck!

Durban has a large Indian population-there is lots of Curry there. Some of the Red hot Curries from Africa that I have had are amazingly good. You probably will want to avoid them.
Prawns, Lobster and steak every night sound good for you.

Enjoy all Africa has to offer, you earned this. You may never get to this part of the world again.
PS Stay in touch with us, please.

December 11, 2008 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Halle said...

Zac I agree with your theory entirely! (Things ALWAYS happen to me at 2-3 in the morning... wonder why that is???)

It's so exciting about your making it to Durban, I have been updating the people of South Eugene High School here in Oregon regularly (because they're all to lazy to get on the blog and see for themselves :P ) We're cheering you on here in the north!

I realize this was a while ago for you, but do you recall the episode of the squid jumping out and onto your boat? I asked my Biology teacher if that was common for squid and she didn't think it was. (She could be wrong of course) but it sounds like you caught a rare event!

Keep away from the storms (including the storm of reporters that is sure to greet you when you arrive in Durban) and good luck!

-Halle S. in Oregon

December 11, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Hannah said...

I think that when metel ships get struck by lightning (espesily when they are in the water) then every body gets fried. Sorry, but that's what one of my school books say. Your boat is made out of wood, right??

I would toss the canned mac and chesse over board. Try the boxed kind. Even when you just use water in it and no milk it still tastes OK.

December 11, 2008 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

Canned Mac 'n Cheese sounds horrid.

On your return, I'd be glad to set you up with a Double Double, animal style with animal fries.

All you CA folks know what I mean...

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

December 11, 2008 at 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Wow! You're almost there! Hang tight, do what you do best, and get into port safe & sound. Yummy food and shower here you come! Can't wait to hear about Durban and see more pics. Take good care, Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

December 11, 2008 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Dear Zac,
We've been following your journey since the beginning! Well done!
Regarding Africa (South) and the Indian ocean, one of the most striking natural phenomenon we witnessed there is the intensity of the thunder. Like in no other places on earth (and we have travelled extensively over the years) have we seen such a phenomenon. The number of lightings , their proximity and their intensity. I don't know how it is to be at sea and going thru a thunder storm but already on land it amazed us as well as scared us tremendously! And if only one other was not the only amazing thing we saw in fantastically beautiful South Africa. Enjoy every minute on land the same way you're doing at sea!

December 11, 2008 at 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir Captain Zac, You, ARE The Man
"77" days out of Darwin and pulling into Durban, "EXCELLENT"
what an adventure...
100 degrees of longitude traveled,
and one major "Indian Ocean" behind you, WHEW... both you and Intrepid "stretched" on this leg... and the ZacPac too...
YOU HAVE done, nothing short of "Fantastic", Zac... guiding Intrepid home...
This is going to be a Great Port-O-Call, lots of new friends, carry
a "sharpie" marker (indulible ink kind) with you...
the "best gifts" you can leave behind: as a "world" ambassador is your time and stories, especially with "young" kids... sharing your "quest" for your dreams and reaching for "ultimate heights",
the obstacles, hnderances and challenges and even at times fatigue, mental, emotional, and physical and spiritual and their counter balances, incredible kindnesses, miraculous support...
answered prayers, and your faith...
the wisdom of lessons you've learned.. ie, the Zac.. 2 to 3 am theory, ;-), and the others...
you've grown so so much...
most treasured by all, besides a "Zac HUG" (what your mum, dad,
and Team Sunderland would give for one of those,about now,"Priceless" for all the rest, would be,"your autograph"...
get that Zac "logo" down... and don't be afraid to write on anything and everything... that
personal touch, which will be left behind long after your wake has melted into the sea, look how much you and Intrepid love the
"Signature Boom" ;-)
how's the "didge" coming along? and don't forget to pick up the kitten, your partner across the "Atlantic" ....
Happy 17th and almost two weeks,
"Race On" Zac.. "Race On"
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for THE LORD rather than for men" Colossians 3:23
Get ready for an "Incredible CHRISTMAS", none you've ever experienced...You'll love it!!
always in our hearts and prayers
mark n adino vicksburg,mississippi

December 11, 2008 at 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

@ Mark and Adino-

So wonderful to hear from you again! I so enjoy your posts. You have a real gift for writing; so fluid and thoughtful. In spite of the fact that your words are directed towards Zac, I feel that there is something there for me to hear if I listen (read) with an open heart! Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.

December 11, 2008 at 5:17 PM  
Anonymous EmilyAnne said...

Hey Zac... again.

I'm SO proud of you for making it this far. I can't BELIEVE how far you've come on this AMAZAZAZAZAZING journey you've been trekkin' on, and all of the things that you have encountered (and possibly learned from... like how a can o' chili is probably not THAT sustaining and canned mac and chee is DEFINITELY not edible... eww.)

SO anyways, I will be checkin' in the mornin' to see if you've made it on to your destination. One more step towards homeward bound!

In the mean time, safe travels to you and port safely. Lotsa sleep, hot showers, and great food is coming your way!! (Just PLEASE don't get sick again like you did in Mauritus. That was NO fun for any of us!)

Can't wait to hear from you!!


Fayetteville, NC

December 11, 2008 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger info said...

Hey Zac,
Your descriptions are amazing, i love reading your perspective. I have found myself thinking about the Youngman in his boat since i found you on youtube. Ive told my friends and clients about you.
I told a mom today and she couldnt believe your mom let you go. My mom is named Mary also, she lives in Virginia Beach. I have always loved the idea of living on a boat and have looked in to doing so in the past. Keep writing and documenting your travels for us to read. It may sound odd but hearing about every little detail is so exciting. Moreso is your perspective and the way you see things. You make the image so very vivid. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE SOME VIDEO of you sailing through a storm, coming to land, or passing another boat like you describe. i would also like to shake your mother and fathers hand, wow did they do a great job teaching you. reading your post i was on the edge of my seat, do you have any sound recordings? would love to hear. I think you will be amazed how time will blow by;) You will be home and planning another trip before you know it. That is if you can find time, be ready for sponsors, model contracts, commercials, talk shows, ect.
Question: Do you do any fishing, a nice seabass may be a little better than mac and cheese, please dont tell me you dont eat sea food:)....
cya be safe, and please be taking lots of pictures.
Michael Burns

December 11, 2008 at 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What happens to the occupants of a metal-hulled boat when lightning strikes the water?"
The lightning is conducted through the metal to discharge into the water. Metal-hulled boats, airplanes, and buildings are frequently hit by lightning with no harm to the occupants.

December 11, 2008 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger bakergirls said...

It must be thrilling to think how far you have come since leaving Marina Del Rey. Do you think you have traveled through the most challenging part of the different global weather elements? Over the last months those squalls seem to make for some serious
The Baker's
Simi Valley

December 11, 2008 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...


Sounds like you night was very intersting! Not wrought with mortal peril, but just enough danger to make it spicy! A little with nothing to seriously test your skills, just your attention span.

Strange thing -- I seldom think of your age any more. I'm just tracking a friend who is doing a wish fulfillment thing that engages so many. When I recall that you're seeking to be the "youngest" and what that entails, it blow me away.

We've all expressed our happiness, pleasure, excitement, and awe-struckedness (new word there) that you are just a tad over half way through the adventure. What does it feel like from your perspective? You never comment on the emotional impact of your accomplishment. You have a right to and you have an audience for it!!

The Croaker

December 11, 2008 at 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac knows Ashley and Kate??!??!? :-)

December 13, 2008 at 9:25 PM  

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