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!


Blogger Peter said...

Hi Marianne,

Wow! Sometimes you think not hearing from Zac for several days, that he is having a great time just being where is is at the moment. I never would have thought he was wanting to get moving, and forget that he has such a long stretch ahead. Thanks for bringing back the reality of what is going on, and that he is 17 again. Sometimes I forget.

March 16, 2009 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Uncle Hectic said...

Oh jeepers, that has to be very frustrating for Zac. Especially with such a long crossing coming up that I'm sure he';s very anxious to get started.

Hopefully he's been able to at least get a little rest and eat some home cooked meals while he's stuck there. As I'd imagine, over the next few weeks sleeping and eating will be intermittent at best.

Keep your head up Zac, don't let these delays get you down. Just continue doing your best, and it will all pay off in the end.

March 16, 2009 at 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang in there Zac! The island life there is slow i know but they will sort it out.I will be sending a contact in for your next stop, he has a boat shop and sail loft.
Take care mate!
Erik in Cape Town

March 17, 2009 at 1:17 AM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

Slap an Evinrude outboard on there. Your motor is broke more then it's working.

March 17, 2009 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger Bill Mann said...

I am assuming Zac that although you cannot communicate with us, you can read the posts.

I am sure that you know that we all feel your pain and frustration.

That goes also for the frustrations felt by all the Sunderland brood.

The bright side is that once you are down, the only way to go is up.

I am looking forward, as I am sure everyone else in Southern California is, to welcoming you home to MDR in a relativly short time.

To all of the Amazing Sunderlings, take solace in that we all share the pain, frustration and anticipation of getting Zac back on the open sea and speeding him on his way back to a life where all you have to worry about is driving, chasing girls, and getting Zac to clean his room.

With deep respect.
Bill Mann

March 17, 2009 at 5:06 AM  
Blogger Tejano said...

Which is Zac's official Facebook page?

March 17, 2009 at 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

I have to wonder what Zac will do when his journey is over? Do you think his days of wunderlust will be over--will he yearn to sail on more? Will he be content to give speeches over and over to various schools and clubs? After having so many adventures I have to wonder if he will get bored with being on land or be dreaming of going back to some of his favorite places? However will be settle back in school--wouldn;t that be torture after being free for a year?? I hope he continues sailing to far and distant places and tells us all about it.

March 17, 2009 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Marianne,

I know you must be so busy right now. I'll tip my hat again for you Marianne if I was actually wearing one.

Well it sounds like things are heating up a little bit. Laurence, I know how you feel about wanting your son to do things exactly the way you would. Children sometimes act before thinking and sometime will reason like mature adults. This is part of growing up and we all know they all have there own minds,individual personalities, and see things slightly differently. This is what sometimes makes a parent angry and other times places a big smile on your face and so much joy in your heart. Go easy on your 17 year old because you won't have him for much longer. It might be very frustrating at times but you must take the most amount of joy you can right now. They grow up so fast and before you know it they are gone.

Thanks for keeping us updated.

Keep Cool,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

March 17, 2009 at 6:42 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Thanks, Marianne, for taking the time to give us an update, especially with all the craziness you have going on!
I certainly hope Trevor comes through with the repair, and that Zac can take off very, very soon... Will be anxiously awaiting that news!

Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

March 17, 2009 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Marianne, been following Zac's status on FB. Definitely sounds a bit frustrated - but still making the best of his time in St. Helena DJing and taking it all in. I'm sure he'll be out on this next very long leg soon. As always, thanks for all you do.

Zac, hang tight and before you know it you'll be underway again. Once you're on your way, stay safe and, of course, stay hydrated!

Cheers all,

milford, ohio

March 17, 2009 at 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We do feel Zac is doing the best he can under the circumstances and also feel for him and his frustrations for sure!"

You are making it sound as if Zac is somehow failing you, not sailing because that is HIS dream.


March 17, 2009 at 6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As of 30 min. ago Zac posted on facebook that all was good and he was ready to go!
Ok you guys, it just us for the next 4 weeks..good thoughts and positive posting as we keep Capt. Zac & all the Sunderlands in out thoughts & prayers!!
Laura BD

March 17, 2009 at 8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by what exactly did Zac do wrong??? Reading the blog abut his arrival at St Helena it says he was off to find someone to fix the starter motor? Does Laurence mean he didn't do it upon arrival and only did it last minute? Or did he do it day one, and it has taken 10 days to try to fix it? Thus he chose the wrong guy to fix it? Does sound a little strange this guy took 10 days to figger out he can't fix the thing.He should have been able to open it up diagnose the problem and determine if he has parts or can fix it in 60 minutes max.

Maybe Lawrence is peeved at himself for swaping in a new modern engine, when if he left the old engine in, it had manual or hand cranking abilities :-)

Can you bypass the starter motor on this new engine and wire it straight to the battery to fire it directly?

March 17, 2009 at 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Betty E. said...

I feel your frustration as a mother protecting her son and at the same time being a sounding board for her husband. There is nothing you can do physically so, just take a deep breath, know all is in God's hands and what will be will be.
I am sure Zac is doing the very best he can in a strange land depending on strangers for his needs and feeling crushed because those strangers don't come through with their promises. But, that's life. It's have to be ready for everything and will work out in the end. There may be a reason (we don't know about just yet) for this delay so, just thank God that he is safe for the time being.
You, Zac and Laurence are in my prayers...
Betty, Lomita, CA

March 17, 2009 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger johnnyBgood said...

MA---thanks for the update. it is true we have all come to expect much of zac. certainly he knows the importance of getting tasks completed...however...there remains that wonderful spirit of adventure in a 17 year old who wants to see, explore and experience all that he can when he sets foot on land in far away places---we love him for that, too!. please know that the entire sunderland family remains in our prayers.
john baker/w hollywood/ca/USofA

March 17, 2009 at 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

@ Sven: I interpreted that sentence a bit differently. I believe that there is frustration that Zac didn't get his engine issues dealt with when he first arrived. In other words; work comes before play. Teenagers (and some adults, unfortunately) don't always think in those terms. They learn the hard way, and this is a perfect example.

Secondly, Zac is indeed on a deserted little island in the middle of nowhere, literally. Along with that comes limited resources and services and an island attitude that is "laid back" in nature. This is not a bad thing if you're on vacation or you're lucky enough to live in such an environment.

I understand everyone's frustration and share those concerns as well. Zac is going to have to deal with a very lengthy leg and will have to keep moving to stay ahead of that hurricane weather that is imminent.

This is most definitely a teachable moment. I hope that Zac's engine issues are resolved in a timely and proper fashion and he is on the water sooner, than later.

Also, make sure he's got a good charge on that phone and has enough food and water...

March 17, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Joy on Journey said...

from ZAC from face book at 9:42 am CST US 3/17/09:
"got the starter in and evry things working well should be off in a cupple hrs 3800 nm to my next port so ill cetch up with u guys in about 4 weeks peace"

Well! I hope it is true and he is really going to be off his lonely island and on about his business again.

Marianne - God bless you again and again and again and SOME MORE! Keeping all your chicks gathered and safe as you can. Good thing - what you can't do - God CAN - and even better news - GOD WILL! Remember He loves you, your husband, and your kiddos even more than you do!

"ONWARD, CAP'N ZAC!" TO the Doldrums and beyond!" (hope they don't really live up to their name!)

LA in MN

March 17, 2009 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what is wrong with Zac goofing off some on the island? Isn;t this HIS trip, HIS dream, HE is doing all the work, why are his parents pushing him ? I'd say that Zac has done a pretty fine job so far and he doesn't need to be scolded for his moving at a slower pace than what his mom wants. For all the many many miles he has traveled, he still has mom berating him from home??? Lighten up mom.

March 17, 2009 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hi There Zac,

Having grown up in a remote area of Oklahoma, I'm familiar with the frustration of having very limited resources when it comes to repairs. It helps teach you how to jerry rig and make decisions on the fly. It also teaches patience, hard to learn in our world of instant gratification. We will pray that you now have the right person looking at it and will get it fixed quickly. I hope you see God's blessings through all of this. Best of everything in sailing the next leg.
Bob in OKC

March 17, 2009 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...

@Marianne: Thanks for the post, dear Lady. Feels better to know a little of what's going on. I have faith that it will all work out favorably. Would love a comment on the photo of Zac 'sighseeing in St. Helena". At first I though that it was a watercolor painting, but it's a photo of something very unusual. What is it?

@Anyone: Get word to Trevor that Marianne said, "Go Trevor!" and that when Mama says go, he'd better get his butt jacked up and in gear -- fast forward!!

@Zac: Hang in there, dude. It's always darkest just before the dawn. Our confidence in you is not wavering, but do listen to the admonitions of dear old Dad. He still speaks to you from superior experience and from his heart. How much longer the former will hold true is not foreseeable, but the gap is closing fast.

Happy Hopping
The Croaker

March 17, 2009 at 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

@ Croaker: I agree with the pic; it looks like a painting. Jen achieved an excellent effect with her lens.

Speaking of Jen, has anyone head from her?

March 17, 2009 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Hi Marianne – I read a lot into what you posted… I’ve been following Zac on Facebook too, definitely clocked his mood there…

I’ve been pondering the leg miles and timing with the Baja leg and storm season these last few days, going to be tight timing…..

Daveh & Skipper

March 17, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Ftroop said...

Cheers, Laurence and Marianne!

We used to say our daughter was 5 going on 21. When she got older it was 17 going on 10, etc. etc. Believe me, Zach is an amazing young man, and an occasional lapse in judgement is totally normal. Sometimes they just learn by making mistakes and nothing can stop the process. Good luck to you all!

March 17, 2009 at 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Willvp/East London said...

Hi Zac !

Good sailing to your next stop!

greetz from East London - South Africa


March 17, 2009 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

Sorry looks back
Worry looks around
Faith looks up

Hang in there, be still and listen.
Waterloo, NY

March 17, 2009 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Willvp/East London - You are a good man Will, hospitality like yours is rare in today's world....

Be safe, live life large and well...

From Daveh & Skipper

March 17, 2009 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger Tomi said...

As usual by the time me gets home to post me thoughts, the rest of the ZacPac has already said it all. Thx y'all! :)

Keep the Faith Capt! May you have good consistent aft blowing winds, strong currents helping to carry along toward your home port, and as always the hundreds of angels/blessed thoughts protecting you as you journey WNW/homeward.


March 17, 2009 at 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Mom is not berrating Zac and Zac is not goofing off. He's having a great time but was frustrated by something that he couldn't control, ie lack of parts and qualified mechanic to fix his starter. It's understandable that he would feel this way, he is on remote island and regardless of age, most people would feel the same. Mom is instilling perseverance, patience and confidence and this leg of 3800nm, it is no joke! He is alone out there, by himself, no time to be complacent. He is going to thank him mom for being there.

Fair winds Zac. Looking forward to your blogs while underway.



March 17, 2009 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Hello Zac and all the Sunderlands,

Those photos were pretty cool! It sounds like you are ready to sail Zac. This will be a long one!

Marianne, I bet you could write a cookbook someday call 'Fast and Furious-Stove to Table in 20 minutes or less.' :-) Goodness, you all have a lot going on! What a year!

Take care of you and yours!


March 17, 2009 at 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Max said...

Yep - The kid needs to learn to do his responsibilities first and to play later. Part of growing up. Fix the boat first, then tour the island, when you are on a tight schedule like he is. He'll learn. Hope the price for the lesson is not to high. God shows a lot of mercy to the young - God is like that - but don't tempt Him either.

March 17, 2009 at 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Troy said...


The photo, "Zac sightseeing at St Helena" is outstanding.


Rock on dude. You're living my dream homeboy.


March 17, 2009 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger r@oxnard shores, ca said...

Zac and family..
As a parent of six kids ages 13-36yrs. I have learned sometimes the hard way that kids will be kids, prents will be parents and God is God...Thank god! None of us have to do it alone, just listen for His still small voice.
Zac you are an amazingly well grounded young man. Always remember that He is sailing along with you.
God speed and safe sails on this next leg..

March 17, 2009 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Ty Fields said...


When you get to Grenada make sure you climb and jump the 7 Sisters waterfalls!

Have a safe passage!


March 17, 2009 at 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Willvp/East London said...


yes, Mi Casa Es Tu Casa under those rules:

1. Bring your own wife and/or daughter so you don't have to borrow.....

2. Don't take out more material things then you brought in...

(just joking !! héhé)

greetz to all.

March 18, 2009 at 6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man that must be frustrating! Stuck on an island in the middle of the atlantic trying to get your motor repaired. I will tell that i have been praying for Zac as he conitnues on the to the lnogest leg of his journey.
Michael Sheetz

March 18, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Anonymous bellasera said...

(Man that must be frustrating! Stuck on an island in the middle of the atlantic)

I sure wouldn't mind being stuck on such a beautiful island. Does he HAVE to be home in June? I would think his wunderlust days are making him think of staying on one of those gorgeous places he has been to. Imagine - after all his adventures having to return to a boring life in CA and having to live under mom & dad's rules again--wow--thats gotta be tough. Just how will he adapt???

March 18, 2009 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Maybe the more-sailing among us can correct me if needed, but my understanding is that it is for reasons of weather and safety that Zac needs to be on his way sooner than later. Hurricane season isn't a pretty time to be out in the Atlantic.
All that aside, may I give three cheers for the amazing job he has done so far, and another round for everyone else who has made it possible!

Simi Valley, CA

March 18, 2009 at 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Art Guy said...

Hi Marianne,
Just a note to the post regarding leaving Zacs old engine in place. A gas engine could never have made this trip for a number of reasons, including the amount of fuel needed not to mention the volatility of a gas engine in a boat. The diesel engine that Zac has (a Yanmar) is one of the best, most dependable engines on the market. As for the starter, if something mechanical is attached to a boat, sooner or later it will break. Having mechanical repairs on a small island is rarely an easy fix. Best wishes Zac on this next leg. P.S. We bought 10 tickets to the "Morning Light" fund raiser.

March 18, 2009 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger jhl417 said...


I am a retired boat rigger who commissioned new boats in MDR for 30 years.I have been following Zac's trip daily. I have been absolutely impressed with his ability to deal with boat problems while in unfamiliar surroundings. As Laurence can attest to, it's difficult enough to solve boat problems while in familiar surroundings. Frustration is just part of the package when dealing with boats.There can be many reasons why starter motors wont work and the starter itself is only one of them.You must be incredibly proud of your son and you have good reason to be. He is quite an individual.


March 18, 2009 at 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...




March 18, 2009 at 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that a real picture or is he just standing in front of a mural or something?

March 18, 2009 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger John Gezelius said...

Zac, you're doing just fine.

You had to make sure the boat was sound and that the engine worked before you left. No matter what anybody else says, it is your boat and you have to make it work. If the engine needed fixing then it is your call - and nobody else'es

It is along way to the northern hemisphere and the Caribbean. take your time, be safe. This isn't a race - and adventure, yes, but not a race.

Grenada as a destination is great, but if water or other issues come to the forefront then find a port. It may not be where you want to be but it likely is better than where you would be otherwise! I would think that tied up to a dock is lots better than bobbing around in a storm: Better TV reception in port!

Grenada? Trinidad? What's next?

March 18, 2009 at 10:18 PM  

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