Friday, February 20, 2009

Repairs at Sea

Latest Position as of 2200Z on 02/19/09 31 10.515S 14 18.079E (260 miles from Cape Town)

We got a call from Zac about 2:00 this afternoon which was strange because it was midnight for him. Following along with Zac's theory that if something is going to go wrong it will happen in the middle of the night, there was a problem with his windvane. He explained what had happened to Laurence who explained everything to Ron from Scanmar Marine. Ron was able to walk Zac through the repair. If you ever have the pleasure of doing business with Scanmar, be sure you talk with Hans. Does he have stories! He is a circumnavigator from before GPS - a completely different story from Zac's high tech venture. Hans and the Scanmar team have been extremely helpful in providing Zac with advice and support. Basically, one of the gears on the end of the connecting rod from the airvane had turned upside down. No one knows why or how. With the transom of Intrepid being buried frequently in swells, Laurence reminded Zac to tie himself on and NOT to let any parts fall in the water. Imagine!

Monitor Windvane on Intrepid

Zac called later to let us know that the vane was repaired and report his position. He seems well - relieved I'm sure that he won't have to hand steer across the Atlantic. We expect to hear from him in a day or two all being well.


Blogger Anita said...

Yeah Scanmar Marine!!
Good to know there are so many people looking out for Zac!!

Fair winds and following seas!
Anita Miracle
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV Wombat

February 20, 2009 at 1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee wizz!
What next eh.
Good that Zac has so many people who are caring about his welfare.
That is soooo reassuring.

But imagine....'Tie yourself on and don't let any parts fall in the water!'
Gives me the heebe geebes.

As for the 'transom'...I say it like I know what it is but I dont....being buried frequently in swells..well that just plain freaks me out!

If pictures, of the open sea, come on the tv, I can barely look at them now, unless they are smooth and still. The rough seas are too much to even glimpse, whilst Zac is out there.

As for hand steering across the Atlantic....well!

Glad all is well right now...hope you slept ok!

Thanks for update.

UK friend

February 20, 2009 at 2:46 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello All,

Thanks Hans for helping Zac out in that real time of need. It's amazing how so many different people get together in one way or another to help Zac out. Hopefully everyone here will realize how helpful and caring the sailing community really is. It's not just in MDR but it seems like it's this way all around the world. Caring and helpful people, what a thought. I'm sure Daveh will interject a few strong points on this subject, Please do so Daveh.

I'm very glad this problem was solved quickly. Laurence, great advice for Zac. Tie yourself on, sounds like a concerned and caring Dad. Like always Laurence, you kept your cool and instructed Zac with the most important advice needed at that instant "tie yourself on".

The parental staff assigned to Zac and his siblings are a God sent. So many children only wished they had parents like Laurence and Marianne. I admire their parental skills and how they are handling this whole situation. Keep Zac motivated and strong. He'll never forget this trip and all the support he received from his friends, family, bloggers, and most of all his loving and caring parents.

@ Zac, get into that rhythm again and ride those swells.

Sail On,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

February 20, 2009 at 6:06 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

As always.... at night... Well, not always, but certainly most of the time...

Edgy over the satphone battery situation, but...

Daveh & Skipper

February 20, 2009 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Orange Kim said...

i will keep praying :)

February 20, 2009 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Always something - glad it was resolved quickly! Another example of the amazing support structure Zac has on his quest; way to go, Scanmar.

Stay safe and stay hydrated, Zac!

Cheers to you and the ZacPac...

milford, ohio

February 20, 2009 at 7:27 AM  
Anonymous cindyincincy said...

Another crisis handled! I'm with UK friend -- experiencing the heebie jeebies over the mere thought of tall swells, falling overboard and malfunctioning sat phone. Thanks for the update and best of luck with this leg.

@ Douglas Pistone -- Tearing up here over the affirming warmth of your post. So good to be reminded that there are many kind, ethical and caring people in a world that sometimes seems full of corruption and greed.

@ Bill -- Welcome back! Missed you and your humor.

@ Parker -- Continuing to pray for you and your doctors and your family. Your courage and strength of spirit are amazing!

February 20, 2009 at 8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fundamental of course to check all electronics before embarking, charge up all phone, computer batteries etc.

Nevertheless with all the electronics and gadgets on board it should be a cinch to power up the iridium. All you need is 6 or 12 volts. Main thing is the plug into the iridium phone. I hope they gave Zac the travel kit which includes the 12 volt auto accessory (that torpedo shape that fits into the cigarette lighter), what you want is the plug on the other side to plug into the phone. Simply wire up the cigarette lighter connection (tip and spring side) from the other side and find a 12 volt source (I assume the boat's batteries are that?). Even simpler a hand full of normal cell batteries. You can make a battery pack. Even more simpler is 6 volts which is what the phone's input is. So long as you have the connection into the phone snip the wires and simply attach to a 6 volt source. Even the solar panel. Again a handful of regular batteries, or even the charger from the laptop (which will have to be cut of course - though I think off hand its 16 volt for the toughbooks). All depends on the phone is it an external docking recharger (with contacts), or built into the phone charger. Whatever the case for sure you can fashion a power source for it, from the ipods to the Panasonic laptop, to the marine batteries to the solar panels, to the computer system on board, all running at the same voltage. So all should be well if absolutely need before St Helena, which has a Cable & Wireless (main Brit telco in the Caribbean), who can provide a new charger or repair the one that is broken.

Just poke around for 12 or 6 volts on board.

February 20, 2009 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger STEVE B said...


Just goes to show that nothing about what Zac is doing is routine.

Don't forget to fight complacency!

Zac, hope you have an uneventful passing.

Birmingham, AL

February 20, 2009 at 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

I agree with Dave H. I'm very concerned about the sat phone and it's remaining charge. I imagine Zac could be down to one bar after the required troubleshooting yesterday.

@ anonymous: thanks for the possible alternate sources he can use for charging up his Sat phone if the need arises.

I also note that Zac isn't too far off the coast of Africa yet, and could always head back to land if the need arises. I hope this isn't required, of course.

February 20, 2009 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger laffing dawg said...

Whew! Here is another nail biter for the book. And a Thank you Jesus.

Well done, Team.

Bend, OR

February 20, 2009 at 9:47 AM  
OpenID rklein said...

Glad that this got resolved quickly. Sure Zac tied himself on even without the reminder, but letting not fall anything into the water. That's the hard part I guess when leaning over the transom (the straight part at the end of the boat) to reach the windvane (see the picture) while the boat is going up and down through the waves possibly getting waves over the parts Zac worked on and that at night. Maybe he waited till morning.

Very good job, Zac!

Sail on. All the best

PS: I have the same question as someone else. Why go from St. Helena all the way to the Caribbean. Zac will be sailing along the coast of Brazil for quite some time. I heard about very bad experiences of cruisers in Venezuela. So maybe don't stop there. I don't know much about the countries in between except that French Guiana hosts the European Space Port at Kourou.
But it is good to know that land is not far after roughly half of the long leg from St. Helena to the Caribbean just in case.

February 20, 2009 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why Greneda either. I'd make a hard push for Aruba instead and rest up there if anywhere. It's only +/- 450 nmi from Greneda. Lot more facilities in Aruba plus R&R and a hop skip and jump to Panama.

February 20, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comment from Mom about "not let any parts fall into the water". This was probably easier said than done with the swells rocking Interepid in the middle of the nite. Reminds me of a recent EVA at the space station where the lead astronaut accidentally let go of tools in space, which I'm sure they also get reminded to secure parts and tools while doing repairs! Imagine though Zac's focus and determination doing repairs while under way! Just wow, he's in good company.



February 20, 2009 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger camkes said...

This is utterly amazing - what a voyage - what an accomplihment - what a way to make many new friends - and to realize how good people can be ........

February 20, 2009 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger Joy on Journey said...

man! "hanging off" the end of the boat in 10-12' swells by a tether strap, trying to do an unfamiliar repair, and "don't let any TOOLS fall in the water" and "don't let any PARTS fall into the water." - whether it was night OR DAY!! as Dave would say - CrAzY!
Thank God for His angels present, too. Zac is super-capable - but no one can control everything but G-d. And He loves Zac as a son! A love well-practiced and demonstrated by L and MA - the ones chosen to raise him. You guys are the best.

I love seeing those pictures of family on Zac's facebook page - TOO CUTE. I love seeing how they all look like mum and dad and each other a little bit. You have a beautiful family - and a big one! Just wait until you are all older and start having kids of your own! Family gatherings...COUSINS and COUSINS...and your folks are going to - Lord willing - have A LOT of grandkids! Amazing how that works. ;) There just arn't as many big families in America that that anymore.

Well, blessings. Keep the 'events' to a minimum!
LA in MN

February 21, 2009 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

He is sure moving along pretty quick.Do you guys have a date for his arrival?

February 21, 2009 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's really interesting. As a result of this, took a quick look at Scanmar Marine's page to see what the thing is all about. Basically a mechanical autopilot, which makes the most sense if you read up on how it works:

Just reading Mike's latest blog entry, can you believe once again his computerized autopilot is on the blink yet again. It's is heart breaking for him. It's now taken him over 3 months to sail from the UK to Cape Town inclusive of time for repairs. It's really sad.

On the one hand you have a solid old boat, Zac's, which you can duct tape together when needed, on the other a high tech 'fly by wire' million dollar racing boat, that is constantly breaking down.

This is like trying to drive down from North Africa to South Africa in a fuel injected turbochaged, electronically controlled luxury SUV versus an old carburetted leaf spring diesel no frills land rover

The one can come to a grinding halt if a grain of sand gets inside the engine, the other can fire on 4 pistons even if a marble gets inside.

It's interesting in that respect to watch both voyages. There should be a write up at the end of the day about that; old tech vs new tech in today's world. A lot to be learnt, that's for sure.

February 21, 2009 at 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Computer Help said...

Nice work...thanks for sharing your work.

May 12, 2009 at 1:58 AM  

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