Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Downwind Days

Latest Position: 10/31/09 1500Z 12 58.966S 010 53.286W

Yesterday the wind held well. I was able to sail along in the mid 6s through the night. The swell is smooth which is great for downwind sailing. When I am headed downwind and have a swell over 10 feet Intrepid tends to round up into the wind. While surfing down the wave one side of the sail collapses and my ride is really compromised.

Other than the good conditions which is great, I had a ship last night. I managed to hail them on the VHF radio and passed them about a mile apart. We don't talk much as they don't speak English well. Today I have been doing more organizing, reading and writing.

Gotta go trim the sails.

Zac (9 yo) testing out a dinghy made by Laurence at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island

Monday, March 30, 2009

Getting in the Groove

Latest Position: 03/30/09 1421Z 14 04.961S 008 51.178W

All is well here with a steady 12 knots apparent running dead-down-wind with the sails set wing-on-wing. The swell is pretty small so I'm loving it and making good time as well.

I spent time today stowing and reorganizing my things which is kind of a daily job out here. I've been working on my book and have a few chapters finished already. I am also trying to get my email up and running. I am missing a new cable that dad brought me in Cape Town. I know it is here somewhere... therefore the stowing and reorganizing.

I was disappointed to hear of Natasza's autopilot problem. My mom is trying to reach her via email to see what the problem is and if hooking up somehow could be helpful. She is headed to Brazil though and should be on a different course.

Meteorologist, David Morris, is keeping an eye in the ITCZ, Inter tropical Convergence Zone, to find the narrowest place for me to cross this crazy area. This is the area near the equator, from about 5° north and 5° south, where the northeast trade winds and southeast trade winds converge in a low pressure zone. It is constantly changing position. The sun is so intense here that there is hardly any wind to move the boat - it just goes straight up! It rains a lot and is constantly hot and humid. Not a place you want to spend a lot of time on a sailboat In fact, sailors call the area the doldrums.

When I crossed the equator last time in the Pacific I was sailing along at 7 knots in a full on squall. That was definitely better than being becalmed for days or weeks.

I've seen a few ships today all of them heading south.

Getting back into the groove and feeling pretty good today.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Farewell to All at St Helena - Zac

Friday was the big day. Pete and I had managed to pull the whole windvane off of the back of Intrepid, load it on to the ferry boat and bring it back to the radio station at Saint FM to make it easier to work on. I got the plastic bearings and a hard copy of the Monitor manual complete with diagrams all in one place from Natasza and went to work. I had been piecing together Facebook messages and parts of the manual without diagrams for the past few days. Having the manual was like having all the missing links. It is a bit of a tricky job trying to get 18 tiny bearings to stay in place. In the end I used liquid soap (no grease allowed) to hold them in place. I finally got it back together and carried the thing down the street back to the ferry. Josh and I wrestled it back into place with me in the water and Josh balancing off the back of the boat trying to get everything lined up right. We finally got it all together right as the sun was going down.

We went ashore for what I hoped would be my last night on the island and watched a movie at Ed's house with a bunch of my Saint friends. I said some good byes and went back to Josh and Pete's and crashed for the night. The next morning I got some last provisions, did a radio interview at Saint FM, and went down to the waterfront with Mike, Bernice, Josh and Pete. I will miss all of the English-type food that I have been eating since Papua New Guinea. Especially those pies with all kinds of tasty things in them. I can't remember what those pyramid-shaped things are (mom's note: Samosas) but I'll miss those too.

I said some hard good byes to another bunch of great friends. I had been staying with Mike and Bernice at Saint FM and it had become my second home. I had also become good friends with Josh and Pete and had stayed at their house for the past week so as not to wear out my welcome at the station. We had some great times.

After saying good bye to another group of friends I went out to the boat and did some final prep. To be prepared for a 4 week passage there is a lot to get on board. I spent awhile stowing food and water and lashing down fuel cans.

I dropped the mooring line and headed out into a nice 15 knots. I prayed that my vane would behave. I set the sails and the vane and sailed smoothly for about an hour until the wind dropped off to about 4 knots and ended up motoring to put some distance between me and the island. Having no electric autopilot I hand-steered for a couple of hours til I got just enough wind to move the boat along and got some sleep.

I was really tired and with all of the busyness forgot to call home. Unbeknownst to me I had everyone worried and trying to figure out what might have happened to me. Sorry mom!

I sailed through the night well and this morning the wind built up which has been great. It is good to be out again and making progress on the next leg. Right now the wind is a nice 18 knots off of the aft quarter. I hope it holds through the night. Gotta go do some sail trim before I go to sleep. I'll write again soon.



Note from Mom: I am working on getting an address for Grenada. Will let you know this week.

Good-bye St Helena!

Latest Position: 03/29/09 1500Z 15 20.020S 007 11.849W (95 miles out of St Helena)

Zac finally pulled out of James Town Harbor, St Helena on early Saturday afternoon. All systems are go! He had a nice 20 knots for a few hours which died down to an anti-climactic 4 knots after a few hours. We spoke briefly this morning. He had planned to finish stowing things and put the finishing touches on a blog. I will post his blog when it comes but wanted you all to know that he is up and running and all is well.
Until Later,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Departure - Take Four!

Zac and friend spent much of today reassembling the Monitor windvane, getting it back to the boat and reattaching it to Intrepid. Zac jumped in the water to ensure that everything was lined up and attached well. After this quote from a previous boater's experience with getting ashore at St Helena, I have new understanding as to why he may have been reluctant to haul the thing ashore. As it was, parents grabbed their children and stared as Zac walked down the street with the vane in arms!

This quote is from the folks on board the S/V Valiam out of Australia. It describes their experience getting ashore at Jamestown on St Helena. They were berthed next to Zac when he arrived in Durban and are slightly ahead of him on a very similar route.


"Shortly after anchoring at midday - 10 days 22 hours after leaving Simons Town, South Africa we were given permission over the radio by Port Control to go ashore. A young man with Creole features took us ashore in his wooden boat ('ferry'). The exciting part was disembarking as the boat rose in the swell as we had to grab hold of the hanging ropes to jump ashore on to wet concrete steps. This was not easy when we hadn't got our 'land legs'
yet! "

Winds in the bay were light so after installing the Monitor, Zac checked over everything while still moored and felt that things were functioning as they were before he dismantled the poor thing. The true test, of course, will be tomorrow as he heads out into the Atlantic.

Zac is checked out with customs again. I wonder what the guys down at customs must think as this is about the third time he has checked out!

He has had several farewell parties with his false departures. Tonight he was to have small gathering with friends and surrogate parents Mike and Bernice (thanks Betty!).

Here's to a successful launch and getting our boy home soon!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Final Repairs

Zac with Polish circumnavigator Natsza Caban, St Helena Island

Zac is alive and well on the beautiful island of St Helena as this lovely photo shows. There is much to tell...

Laurence and Hans from Scanmar had been troubleshooting Zac's windvane from afar. If you remember, after steering Zac over half way around the world, it began to slip on his passage from Cape Town to St Helena. Laurence was concerned that the 'slipping' would only worsen on Zac's long leg across the Atlantic. I sent Hans every photo ever taken of the windvane and after careful inspection it became clear to Scanmar that the Monitor must have been hit and damaged, probably by another boat. If Zac was not on board he would not know about it. The most severe problem is that the #26 Pendulum had been bent. It can most certainly be repaired in St.Helena but the Monitor has to be taken off and taken apart at the gears and the pendulum has to be removed and straightened.

Fortunately, the Monitor is made in Stainless, which is very repairable. The pendulum blocks on the Monitor are also mounted incorrectly on the brackets. This can be corrected in 10 minutes but the way they are mounted now there is a lot of line chafe and light air performance is effected.

Hans sent over a detailed email on how to repair the vane. Zac's manual was soaked and unreadable though. No problem, he can get it on line. Well, no he can't, the Internet service is too slow to download large documents. I tried emailing it and ended up cutting and pasting the parts of the manual that were referenced in Hans' email into Facebook since Zac also cannot get on Yahoo to check his email. We still were not able to get Zac access to the imperative printed copy of a diagram however.

Monitor diagram

To make matters worse, Zac began to take the vane apart while still attached to Intrepid instead of detaching the whole thing and moving it inside as Hans instructed. I can hear the comments now....but before you pass judgement on the kid, know that he is alone in a rolly anchorage without a dinghy and felt if he had dismounted the whole thing, he might drop the whole thing in the water. He is moored in 90 feet of water! In his judgement at the time, it was the right thing to do.

The result of this was 15 of 18 bearings and one custom washer fell into the sea. The washer was machined by the now famous, Trevor. Yeah Trevor!! The bearings weren't so easy. Our conversations were tense on top of being crackly and intermittent. Things were not looking good.

Knowing that Zac needed a miracle to pull this off, I sent out a mass email asking for prayer - specifically a miracle. I remember as I typed the words asking myself, "Marianne, do you believe that God can do this?" I did and He did.

By the time Zac woke up in the morning, Natasza Caban had pulled into St Helena. Natasza is a young Polish woman who is attempting to be the first Polish woman to sail around the world alone. Thanks to an anonymous blog commenter (yeah bloggers!) who had been reading her blog, we learned that Natsza also had a Monitor windvane on her boat.

She had the manual (in English- whew!) and some spare bearings. If that is not a miracle, I don't know what is!

I spoke for a while with Zac this (his) evening. He was sitting on the one spot down the beach a ways that has sat phone reception. He had successfully placed the bearings and had a friend to help him finish the repairs and hopefully return the vane to the boat tomorrow.

I told Zac that commenters (not to mention his parents) were getting peeved with him for taking so long and asked what he had to say for himself. He tried to explain what it is like to have your boat in a rolly anchorage with no dinghy - there is no place to land a dinghy at St Helena so he didn't commission his dinghy. Then you have the poor sat phone reception and a big time difference - he is 7 hours later. Then you have slow Internet connection. Then you are asking locals who already have full time jobs to come and help you with your boat. They kindly agree but have to work and find time after work etc.

Could Zac have done things differently? Yes. Could he have done things quicker? Yes. The beautiful thing here though is that Zac is in a place where no one can reasonably fly out to help him. He has to do this himself and it has been a challenge. He has risen to the challenge and not given up because he can't. We sure wish Zac was nearing Grenada right now. We are also proud of the young man he is becoming. We are taking things a day at a time here. Hoping and waiting and encouraging Zac.

We had a fabulous night out at the Westlake Yacht Club before heading over to the screening of Morning Light. the inspiring story of 15 young adults with limited sailing backgrounds who trained for a year to be competitive racers in the Trans Pacific Yacht race. Laurence, Abby, my mom and I all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We met Roy Disney Jr. who is a gifted speaker and passionate sailor who gave great insights and background into this wonderful movie. It will be out on DVD in June so you have to check it out.

Update soon...


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Almost There - One More Repair

Enjoying a rest!

In the last few days I've mostly been sweating over my engine with Trevor, a local mechanic who has been an amazing help. Together we've been ripping apart my injector pump and finally found 3 broken springs that were stopping my engine from getting fuel. In short, Trevor managed to find some new springs and the engine is good as new - well seeing how it is new and it breaks down all the time I don't know if that was a good analogy but any way...
It felt great to finally have that up and together. It really does things to your head being stuck on the second most remote place in the world where the next ship that could have brought spare parts won't be here for 4 weeks! It was a big weight off the shoulders. In light of the newly fixed engine I went out and celebrated with a couple of my friends from the island, Pete and Josh - good times! Today I've been buying some final provisions and trying to find someone to machine a peice of my self steering gear which hopefully will happen on Monday. Thanks to Hans and the guys at Scanmar who analyzed photos of my trusty windvane and wrote up detailed notes of how to repair it.

Looking forward to being off soon and back on my way to Panama.

Today is Mother's Day in this part of the world so Mom thanks so much for being the best mom in the world. I definitely wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all of your tireless help, support and love. Love ya!

I gotta run and get some last minute stuff done over here so I'll keep you guys up to date on the final repairs.

Until then, peace.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St Helena Update

Zac with Mike and friends at the studio of Saint FM
Hello Patient Bloggers!

In the end Trevor came through with flying colors and Zac's starter motor was repaired successfully. Zac had provisioned, fueled up and checked out with customs only to have his engine that ran well for over 30 minutes conk out while dropping his mooring in James Town Bay! He tried all of his 'tricks' to get her started again - to no avail. After many phone calls back and forth between Zac, Laurence and a very experienced mechanic, Karl from C & C Marine in Marina del Rey, there was still no joy. Zac grabbed hold of his mooring again and reluctantly spent another night in St Helena. Two days and four mechanics later they are still in the process of figuring our what may be the problem which appears to be an airlock somewhere.

The question has been raised: why worry about an engine if he is in a sailboat? Zac explained that there have been many times that he has had to start up his engine to get out of the path of a ship on a collision course with Intrepid while at sea. He is in no way comfortable not having this imperative piece of safety equipment.

While we are anxious for Zac to make his way home by early June for WEATHER reasons, (emphasis added :)) we are not so anxious that we would risk his safety at sea. So we wait and pray and are exited to see how God will work his plan for Zac at this time.

Zac relayed a story to me today that is a picture of normal everyday life in St Helena but quite unusual to us. There is virtually no crime in St Helena. There are a few 'prisoners' at the local jail. However, they are allowed 'out' from time to time and can be seen in their prison garb walking around town or grabbing a beer at the local hang out. Also, Zac was in the bank recently where the bankers were transferring some cash. There they were counting out 45,000 pounds (British) right there on the counter in front of everyone with no bullet-proof glass or armed guards anywhere. Imagine such a place!
Many thanks to Mike and Denise who have been putting Zac up in their spare room. Zac was headed back there this evening after a few nights on the boat in a very rolly anchorage. He says that Mike and Denise have become like surrogate parents to him which does my heart good for sure!

Don't forget to think about coming to the benefit screening of Morning Light (see blog entry from March 7). Anyone who preregisters not only gets a discount but also is invited to attend a reception at the Westlake Yacht Club before the screening where, among other things, Laurence will speak briefly on Zac and his trip.

Thanks again for your words of wisdom and encouragement. It is great for all of us to hear!



Monday, March 16, 2009

St Helena - Day 11...

Zac sightseeing at St Helena
Hello All,

Life is busy here with 6 kids and homeschooling, running Laurence's business, taxes due, Zac's media requests and work beginning on his documentary DVDs. With the lack of good communications with Zac, we had to be content with knowing that he was okay but not knowing every detail as usual.

I had a longish talk with a very discouraged Zac who has been posting comments on Facebook like 'I'm stranded on a deserted island.' He had dropped off his starter motor (which was replaced with the engine, had had trouble outside of Durban but appeared to have fixed itself and no service was done there) with a mechanic on the island who thought he had the needed part. He was to meet Zac Monday morning at the boat to install it. Zac had checked out with customs, stocked up on food and water and even posted on Facebook that he was about to leave. That is when the mechanic arrived and announced that he was not able to repair the motor as he had thought. He did have the numbers of several other people who he thought might know how to fix it.
Zac should be glad that he is hard to get a hold of today because I have had at least 5 different conversations with an extremely frustrated Laurence outlining all of the reasons why this long stopover is really, really bad! He is spilling over with advice and admonitions on the importance of tackling jobs when first arriving in port etc... We do feel Zac is doing the best he can under the circumstances and also feel for him and his frustrations for sure! He is still a mere 17 years old. There are times when he seems far older than his years and others that just make you scratch your head and wonder if this is the same kid who just sailed over ahlf way around the world alone!

The starter motor is now with Trevor, who I believe Zac said was a fisherman from the island. He was working on machining the needed part and should have it to Zac by tomorrow.

Zac is planning on heading straight up and across the Atlantic, passing on Brazil though he would love to stop there, and pulling in at the island of Grenada. His stop there will need to be quick as the clock is ticking and hurricane season will start June 1st in the Pacific Ocean whether he is home or not. This passage is over 3800 miles and so will be not only a physical challenge but also a mental one as he has to cope with solitude and relative confinement for such a long time. He has said that he is good for about two weeks before getting restless. That was a while ago now and I don't know if his tolerance has gotten longer or shorter.

I know you all want to hear from Zac and what is going on with him in his own words. Once he is out to sea again and has sat phone reception we should be back in business. For now, know that he is well and most certainly focused on getting back to Marina del Rey in early June.

Zac DJing at Saint FM
Pray for good news tomorrow! Go Trevor!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Slinkies and Starter Motors

Zac with his new spinnaker with Produce for Kids logos
Hello All,
Don't feel too badly about not hearing from Zac much since his arrival in St Helena. We have not heard much ourselves. This blog update is a compilation of Facebook messages and very brief sat phone conversations.

If you have been to Zac's Facebook page, you will have read of Zac's attempt at another world record - 'walking' a Slinky down the most steps - namely down Jacob's Ladder (see photo last post). Unfortunately, his attempts were unsuccessful due to the very tall nature of the steps on Jacob's Ladder. Apparently they are around a foot high each. He considered attaching 2 Slinkies together but alas he only had one. BTW, Zac did walk up all of Jacob's Ladder. It took about 5-6 minutes!

I asked Zac if Dot's Cafe was still in town but he never did see it. There is an Anne's Cafe (run by a woman named Anne) so perhaps the cafe has changed hands? Also, with regards to another bit of St Helena trivia - the 'jetty' where sailors have been signing their names over the years does not exist either. Someone said something about moving 'everything' inside - inside where, I don't know. Very disappointing, for sure.

Zac has been around the island and seen Napoleon's tomb. He was only buried there for 20 years before his body was brought back to France.

He did not catch a fish on the way from Cape Town to St Helena. Anybody surprised?

His starter motor is in for repairs and should be returned and reinstalled this weekend. There were a few questions regarding this. Yes, the engine was replaced with a new Yanmar 30 hp diesel but the starter motor was not replaced. I believe it was serviced (?) in Durban.

Thank you to the blogger who reminded Jen to get some antimalarials. She did go to the same travel doctor that Zac saw before his departure. She will be stopping in Brazil (Fortaleza) before heading north to Trinidad and then Florida. She was going to ask the doctor on the RMS St Helena for a few antimalarials for her weeks before arriving in the malarial 'zone'.

He has been staying in a spare bedroom of the Saint FM radio station owners, Mike and Denise. He has been enjoying spending time helping out in the radio station including a 2 hour DJ stint yesterday afternoon.

We all appreciate your kind comments and encouragements as always.



The following is a link to a great article on what may have been the tortoise that Zac and Jen met:

Also, we have a new item for sale in Zac's Store. Many of you know that one of Zac's formative experiences with boating was our family's 3-year cruise to Mexico. Laurence kept a log that ended up being quite a story. He has been encouraged to polish it up and publish it in a book. He reread it recently and added some great photos. For anyone interested in the sailing/cruising/adventure life or a glimpse into one of Zac's early boating experieces, this is a must read. The ebook is downloadable at Zac's Store for $5.00 which will go directly to funding Zac's trip.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

St Helena - Zac

Mark Plato, the 'Saint' that took Jen and I on a tour of St Helena

One of the older 'Saints' on the island

If this guy could talk!

Me shooting Jen, shooting

Jen with our new friend

The following is an excerpt from my log kept during the trip from Cape Town to St Helena:

Day 1:
So I headed out of the V & A Waterfront Marina around 11:00am and passed through the two swing bridges and out into a very light breeze. Jen, Jeff and a photographer for a news paper followed me out in a Bavaria Yacht to see me off and grab some pix. As I said, the wind was very light but there was just enough breeze to fill the sails and keep me moving. I shut off the engine and took a look around and saw a big metal fishing boat about half a mile away on a collision course which is something you really don't want to see when you're in a light breeze going close to the wind. I kept on my course and hoped he would alter his course. As he got closer I called him on the VHF radio, but received no answer. As he got close enough for me to hear his engines, I started mine and spun Intrepid dead into the wind. He ended up passing just off my bow. Great seamanship, huh? I got the boat back on course and sailed along nicely past Robin Island. Unfortunately, after that, the wind died all together. As it got later, ships and fishing boats began to show up everywhere and a thick fog rolled in. By 11:00pm I had my spreader lights, navigation lights and strobe light all going hoping to make Intrepid more visible but I'm sure it was pretty much useless though because from my cockpit I could barely see the lights on the top of the mast!

As the night went on, I was navigating off the AIS and radar and there were some close passes. I had one ship pass less then half a mile away and I never saw a thing! If it wasn't for my AIS radar, a gift for which I am very grateful, from Dr. David Lowenberg, the night would have been very dangerous. The AIS radar lets me see the track position, name, speed, and course of most all ships. So, anyway...another sleepless night.

The next day, my Iridium sat phone charger slid off the counter into the sink. When I'm in a starboard tack, sea water backs up the drain and I always have about an inch of water sloshing around the sink. That is how I ended up with so little communication for the rest of my trip. I still had two bars of charge left on it which is about 20 minutes of the phone being on and I still had a week and a half to two weeks to go! I had to save that for emergencies. I called my mom to arrange a time to call her every two days for a quick weather report and to give my position.

The past couple of days have passed with not much going on. I've picked up the trades - a nice 15 - 20 knots apparent off the aft port quarter and am sailing with full genny and 1 reef in the main.

OK, so sorry for not putting what day it is on my blog but I've lost track. Not that that really matters out at sea. The sun does the same thing everyday anyway. It has been very overcast the last couple of days and the solar panels haven't been able to keep up with the draw so I'll have to run the engine to get some power from the alternator. Not that I need any speed from the engine, I'm going 6-7 knots running with 25-30 knots apparent behind me.

The other night at around 2:00am, the boat suddenly spun into the wind and when I got up to the cockpit I saw that the windvane wasn't doing it's job and the tiller arm was moving freely. I grabbed my Solar Light Cap (a very useful piece of gear. http://www.solarlightcap.com/) and saw that the two gears that connect the wind paddle to the paddle were in the water. I called my dad using my dying Iridium phone and asked him to call Hans at Scanmar and ask them how to fix it. I told him I would call him back in half an hour and hand-steered for about twenty minutes. Then I put away the genny and flopped around while I tried to get through to my dad who had really bad reception. I got the phone number for Monitor, called them up and got the directions for realigning the gears. In about 15 minutes I was sailing along nicely with the Monitor doing its job.

Not much going on the last few days...steady tradewinds. The only problem has been vane gears keep coming detached and always at some God-forsaken hour of the morning when its black as ink. Other than that, I'm making steady progress toward St Helena.

Smooth sailing the last couple of days with winds a little lighter than I would have liked but moving along in the 5s. Not much of any thing else going on so I'll write more when something happens.

OK, so I'm about 300 miles from the island and my sat phone just went from one bar of power to off so no more sat phone. I should be in in 50 hours or so. Hoping the wind doesn't die down too much more.

OK, well the wind did die all the way down. I had about 4 knots all night so I motored for awhile as the wind was predicted to increase within 12 hours. The next morning the engine died from a clogged fuel filter so I replaced it, siphoned some more diesel into the tank and tried to start the engine again. It cranked over once and just died so I looked in the engine room and discovered that the starter was screwed. I drifted off course all that night and most of the next day. My sat phone was dead so I had the same thing going on as in the Torres Strait - no communication. I knew that my parents were going to start to worry because I should have been doing at least 100 miles a day unless something was wrong on the boat. There was nothing I could do except for wait and bob around not going anywhere. It was driving me crazy so that day to keep my mind alive I pulled down the sails, not that they were doing anything) and tied a rope around my wast and jumped over the side. Don't worry, I got back on board pretty quickly because I've just seen too many sharks in the last 8 months to feel comfortable swimming in the open ocean. In the evening, the wind filled in and I was able to sail along at about 4-5 knots. It was a relief because at that rate I would get in around 10:00am the next day. I sailed nicely through the night and the next morning sailed my way around the island.

As there would be no way for me to anchor without an engine in such tight quarters, I was towed in to the anchorage around 11:00am. I got all moored up, met up with Jen and went ashore to clear customs and immigration. I did a radio interview and then went to do another interview at the Saint FM station close to the waterfront. I interviewed with Mike, the owner and main DJ, who then offered for me to stay with him in his house above the radio station. I've been there for the past couple nights.

In the last couple of days I've seen the whole island, Napoleon's grave (Yes, Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died here) and met a few of the locals who have been great and friendly people. I climbed up Jacob's Ladder - all 699 foot high steps and have started on the engine work. I should be getting some help from a mechanic on Monday.

Sorry it took so long to get this off. There has been very poor phone reception, limited Internet, etc. There is always a lot going on when I first arrive in port. I still need to get down to the jetty where sailors have been adding their names since they first began visiting here on there trips across the Atlantic. I can't remember if Robin Graham was here on Dove. I thought he went to Ascension further north. Anybody know? All is well and I will be in touch again soon.



Sliding down the rail of Jacob's Ladder, St Helena Island
Link to AOL Article:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Benefit Screening of Morning Light

Hello All!
I am expecting to hear from Zac this afternoon sometime. He has been busy exploring St Helena and pulling off his starter motor thus lending piratical application to the true definition of cruising - going to exotic places to fix your boat! Zac will also be making his debut as a nature photographer so check back later today for sure!

With the lull in blogs I thought this would be an excellent time to let any of you locals in on a fantastic happening in our area. This event is being put on by the Westlake Nautical Foundation who have been a fantastic support to Zac.

Thursday, March 26, the Westlake Nautical Foundation is hosting a special fundraising event to benefit its Junior Sailing Program: Walt Disney Picture's feature-length sailing documentary Morning Light will be shown at a private screening, which will likely be the last opportunity to see the film on a large theater screen.

As a special added attraction, Roy P. Disney, who is a past winner of the Trans Pacific Yacht race, will present a live personal introduction. Disney served as the sailing coach on the production. His father, Roy E. Disney, is the film's producer and nephew of Walt Disney. The film follows the true-life exploits of a group of young non sailors who are provided a world class racing yacht and taught to sail before competing in one of the world's toughest open ocean races: a 2,500 mile trans-Pacific course from Newport Beach, California to Honolulu, Hawaii.

A prescreening reception will be held at the Westlake Yacht Club at 6:00pm for those with advance purchased tickets. The club is located at 32123 West Lindero Canyon Road, Westlake Village.

The film will be shown at the Westlake Twin Theater, 4711 Lakeview Drive, Westlake Village, at 7:30pm. Advanced tickets are a $20 donation to Westlake Nautical Foundation. Tickets purchased at the theater are a $25 donation. All ticket holders attending the showing will be eligible for prize drawings.

Seating is limited, purchasing tickets as soon as possible is recommended by the co-hosts, Sharon and Michael Broggie. Suzie Bornhauser is the contact for ticket information and purchase: suziehost@msn.com, 805-778-1093.

The Westlake Nautical Foundation provides sailing scholarships and other benefits for children in the community. It is also sponsoring 17-year-old Zac Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, who is currently attempting to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Event Contact:
Michael & Sharon Broggie, co-hosts

The folks at the Westlake Yacht Club have also been a tremendous support to our entire family. Come enjoy their club and this special showing of Morning Light!


Friday, March 6, 2009

St Helena

Zac's arrival in St Helena
I know you are all wondering what is going on with Zac. Apparently the sat phone reception in St Helena isn't very good so we have not spoken to Zac except for a very brief check in way too early this morning. :) We expect to hear from him later today but for now wanted to post an update from Jen and a few photos...
Yesterday Zac had a few people come out to greet him, took some photos with them and had a couple interviews…one down by the water and another in the local radio station. Then he was offered a room to stay in and a shower by the guy who runs the station. (Which is right above the station and right next door to where I am staying) The Levy family came out as well and have invited us over for a Braai sometime…I might not be able to because I leave Sunday afternoon but Zac will.
We are going to grab some breakfast here pretty soon, have some delicious local coffee then head out for the tour. Hope you are having a good sleep and we will get back to you soon!
Zac is planning on being in St Helena for at least a few days. He was unable to start his engine in St. Helena because it appears that his starter motor has died. He'll be looking in to having it rebuilt. Also, Laurence asked me to mention that in my last post I wrote that Zac's windvane does not steer well in light winds. This situation is unique to his boat. Most boats do steer well with the Monitor Windvane. Zac or Jen will be sending over some photos of the system for Hans to troubleshoot.
Zac entering Jamestown Harbor, St. Helena Island

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Latest Postion: St Helena Island - approximately 16S 5 47W

We still have not spoken to Zac but have spoken briefly to Jen who told us that Zac had arrived, was checking in with customs and was then going to get a hot dinner. He had a difficult last few days because the wind vane does not steer well in such light winds. His small mechanical autopilot (about his 6th one) burnt up again! This meant that he had to hand steer for several days. More news to follow...
I have a busy morning so will not post more for a few hours but there are some very interesting comments and links in the comments attached to the last post. If you click on the yellowish 'comments' link at the end of the post you can read them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No News is ... No News

There is a saying that says something like, "No news is good news." That is definitely not the case when you haven't heard from your son who was due in port hours ago but hasn't arrived. I normally would wait to post until he arrived but just so you don't think that we have forgotten about you all - here we are.

We are not really worried about Zac because we know he is in calm seas and not yet that late. Yet, our ears are hyper-vigilant to the possible sound of the phone ringing and email is being checked more than regularly in the hopes of hearing that our boy is safe in port.

I had a nice Skype chat with Jen this morning. It seems like the whole island is eagerly awaiting Zac's arrival. I have been in email contact with some of the residents and the local media. Jen said that because they have not had contact with Zac that it was like planning a surprise party. I guess at least for today, the guest of honor didn't show up to his own party!!

Thank you for all of your kind emails and comments - it does us all a world of good.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

So Close and Yet So Far II

Latest Position as of 03/07/09 at 1600Z 19 09.147S 001 43.141W (290 miles from St Helena)

We spoke with Zac very briefly this morning. The winds are quite light - in the under 10 knots range. This is very frustrating for Zac, however, the forecast calls for the winds to increase in 12 hours to the 13-17 knot range. Over the past 2 days he averaged 100 miles/day which is certainly better than he has experienced in the past but not close enough to the desired max of 150 miles per day. Unfortunately, his sat phone was having some poor reception and now appears to be out of power. All being well, he should arrive in St Helena on Wednesday afternoon. The St Helena Yacht Club is on the lookout and has offered to escort him into the anchorage which is not the greatest. It is quite deep - between 17-21 meters! Check out this warning from the Noonsite web site:

WARNING: All vessels anchor in James Bay but the holding is very poor. Ensure your anchor is well set before going ashore and check the position of your vessel on a regular basis. Many a vessel has had to be collected on the horizon after it had dragged anchor.
Landing on the slippery quay can be quite hazardous if a swell is running, which often the case. Occasionally it may be impossible to land. From http://www.noonsite.com/.

I had a brief Skype chat with Jen on Friday. She was taking care of Internet business and then hoping to spend Saturday exploring the island. She was blown away by all of the positive and encouraging emails she received. One thing that hasn't been mentioned here is that Jen is very new at this. We actually met Jen while Intrepid was in the Anchor's Way Boat Yard in Ventura. She was doing an internship at the local paper the Ventura County Star while taking photography classes in town. She had been assigned to take photographs for an article by John Scheibe. She began to follow Zac's story for a school project, coming down to the yard to lend a hand and take photographs. She is certainly not the 'leach' that she had been accused of though she is learning the difference between what perhaps should be done in the industry and what is done as far as copyright infringement and the protection of same.

We got the Sharpie out today to update where Zac was on our world map that hangs in the living room. How amazing to trace his journey and think of all the water that has passed under his keel.