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!




Blogger Daveh said...

Hi Marianne - Good news, thanks... Please check your eMail...

Daveh & Skipper

March 19, 2009 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...


Zac should NEVER leave for a 40 day leg without an engine. There is nooooo guarantee that the solar or wind charging systems will not fail, or have issues. If they do, the only way to charge his batteries is the engine…

What happens if he becomes dismasted??? Oh, no engine either?!?!?! No way... That engine must be in TOP working order...

The engine is a KEY piece of safety equipment, just like a VHF, SSB, and even an anchor, yes, an anchor… Saved my a$$ once from a complete disaster… Why? Engine failure in the middle of a pass with a ripping full moon tide… On my boats (power or sail) I always have an oversized anchor. When it becomes a safety device, it MUST work, no room for failure or drags…

My $0.02

Daveh & Skipper

March 19, 2009 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger RK said...

Ooh that must be disappointing for Zac not being out on the water again. I though he was already happily sailing along. Marta already left St Helena and Zac has to stay behind :-(
But apparently he found a home away from home. Thanks to all "Saints"

And all the best with the repairs.
And then Godspeed, Zac.

March 19, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

And, there's no way he can get through the Panama Canal without a functioning engine! They don't allow it.

Marilyn in Woodland Hills

March 19, 2009 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We trust that all will work out just right for Zac....timing perfect...we don't see the big picture at the moment but we know someone who does!
Hugs for all the Sunderland family and thanks to all who are helping to get Zac on his way.

UK friend

March 19, 2009 at 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Well, I'm glad Zac didn't get too far before realizing that his engine problems were not resolved. I do hope that he is back on the water soon. It's gonna be a long leg and I wish him safe travels and the right amount of wind in his sails.

March 19, 2009 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal said...

Someday these unexpected stop- overs may turn into some of the best memories of his journey.

Granted, the Hurricane Season grows closer by the day, but it seems as if the early part of the season usually isn't that populated with storms.

So, it's good to see Zac making friends wherever he lands, and going with the flow, while finding a solution, when he encounters the unexpected.

As Daveh has already noted, Zac is absolutely correct in not leaving shore without an engine.

That St. Helena looks like a fun place to hang out, and all too soon it will be just Zac and the waves and the sky and the birds -- which also doesn't sound too bad.

-- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

March 19, 2009 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Crazy stuff with that engine. I hope and pray when you do set sail Zac, that it works like it should! In the end, you can look back, and even though it was discouraging at the time, you may think; 'Well, had I not done that, or had this or that not happened, then I never would have _ _ _ _ _ _ (fill in the blanks later...).
It's all part of some plan I think. Enjoy the ride. Sail safe when you do get on your way.


March 19, 2009 at 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is unbelievable. its a engine. a very simple piece of equitment. now i am not a mechanic. but i do no A diesl engine is very straight forward. that is why most boats have one. becasue they are easy to fix and most mechanics around the world can fix them no problem. go thru the check list of probable problems and find out what it is. that should take one hour. then after knowing the situation. just fix it. that should take 2 maybe 3 hours. done and ready to sail. this is so strange.

March 19, 2009 at 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can remmeber with mike Perham he was having problem after problem with his auto pilot. Time and time again he experianced delays and set backs. all these auto pilot people could not figure it out. i kept on saying get a new one. but no they would give him more and more spare parts. well after countless delays guess what? they gave hime a new one. so the lesson is if all these so called experts can not figure out how a simple diesl engine works then i suggest zac gets a new one. then guess what ? no more problems.

March 19, 2009 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Marianne,

Thanks for the update. Hopefully the engine and starter will be working fine by the time Zac leaves.

Life is sometimes challenging but it's how we handle those challenges that defines who we truly are.

Keep the prayers going.

Get that Engine Running,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

March 19, 2009 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Man, Grant is right... Life is not a single solitary goal… It’s life… a journey… And if Zac has to lay back, for the sake of safety, which I’m 110% in support of, so be it…

Seriously… Mr. Safety (as Ms. Dr. Skipper calls me)… Being the youngest to “attempt” and not live, isn’t worth it… Sure, be aggressive, but enjoy the trip, but don’t ever ever do something foolish…

My only worry about Mike Perham is along these same exact lines, be aggressive, but don’t be foolish… Live is a journey… I’ve been punched and criticized on this blog every time I’ve mentioned Mike, but if you’re a real seaman, you know what I’m saying… It’s never anti-Mike or anti-Zac, it’s always been anti-foolishness… I’ve done 10,000 miles solo (Zac already has me beat there) and I probably have 30k to 50k total sea miles… I just witnessed 3 of 4 sacrifice their selves in the Florida waters 2 weeks ago, all in their 20’s, gone, toast, a real tragedy… I hate to say it, but all 4 would be hear today, with a better respect for the oceans… a very sad situation for the families…

One that becomes cavalier with the sea, becomes a part of the sea, if you know what I mean…

One of my favorite quotes is (and I have soooooooooo many) – We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human spiritual experience”

Zac’s role at this point is exactly that, and fortunately, we are all graciously invited to a front row seat, which is a unique blessing, and we should see it and acknowledge it as such….

My the spirits of our world, bless Zac, his vessel, The Intrepid, and his family and followers…

May the wind be at the backs of all of his followers…

Daveh & Skipper

March 19, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

@ anonymous – You are right, diesel engines as a compression mechanism are very straight fwd, yet, at the same time, they are so complex vs. a combustion mechanism… A single spec of air in the fuel and they choke out…. Additionally, I had a Perkins diesel in my last sailboat, which had Lucas parts (electronics, lift pumps, coils, relays’, etc, etc…) all of which were faulty, difficult to debug, and worse, VERY difficult to get spares for…

So, even if the basic and simple compression of the Diesel engine was functioning as designed, if an exterior part (in Zac’s most recent case, the starter or solenoid) you’re hosed…

I leaned more “weird” things that could go wrong with a “simple” Diesel in my 10 to 30,000 miles than I can share reasonably in a blog…

However, I 100% agree with you, I would rather have a diesel/compression than a gas/combustion on my vessel ANY day……..

Thanks much for your contribution,

Daveh & Skipper

March 19, 2009 at 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Do what ya gotta do to stay safe! If it's another few days on SH then so be it..things happen for a reason. Stay focused and optimistic like the Zac we know. I know it's easy for us to say here on land but you have shown us what a great Capt. you are. You have been threw so much already..doesn't the pirate days seem so long ago..or when we got the great pictures from a helicopter because we thought you about the broken booms and torn sails..your an amazing young man and you handled these things like the pro that you are...there is no doubt that your going to make MDR safe and sound!!
Take care, have fun and sale safe when you and Intrepid are ready.
Laura BD

March 19, 2009 at 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

Hey to wish all U guys a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Ireland forever
Here's a link that will get your toe tappin! Listen to it with a 'wee pent of schtout' REPEAT AS NECESSARY
Go on ye boy!!

March 19, 2009 at 9:46 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...

@The saints of Saint Helena:

I had anticipated that Zac would be visiting his first 'backwater' port of call who would hardly notice his passing through and to care even less. Well, how can I apologize enough! It has been a great stop-over for Zac and a grand vicarious visit for the Zac-Packers. A visit to St. Helena has been added to my bucket-list! It is the home of amazing folks.

@Daveh: Where have you been, Buddy? It's good to have you pitching in again with 'tell it like it is' advice and doing so with informative comments. QUESTION for you: I have recently read here or elsewhere of an "Ultra Anchor". I know about Danforths, plows, various 'lunch-hooks' and a few others, but what exactly what is an "Ultra-Anchor"? Is that a brand name or a generic type? Just the name seems to build confidence.

@Marianne: As usual, thanks for the post. You mentioned being excited to see what was God's plan for this stage. Me too, and I have full confidence that we are going to be happy with the outcome!

Looking forward to hearing that there's been a perfect solution to the motor/starter problem. Dr. Laurence is on the case, so no problema!

The Croaker

March 19, 2009 at 10:18 PM  
Anonymous cindyincincy said...

Thanks for the post Marianne -- so glad to hear that the Sunderland clan is weathering this latest delay with your usual grace and equanimity.

Perhaps Zac will have time to visit a St. Helena bookstore and pick up something new to feed his soul on his next solitary leg. I highly recommend "The Book Thief" by Australian writer Markus Zusak. Just finished this award-winning story of teenage courage set in Nazi Germany. It is a beautifully-told story and would contribute to Zac's study of history, geography,and literature.

Best of luck with the engine repairs and/or replacement. And thanks again for taking us along on your journey! CindyinCincy

March 20, 2009 at 5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Zac should just stay in St Helena indefinately--he looks pretty comfy there and is making friends, eating well, a place to live. Come home next year and just live the life of an islander for a year. Whats the hurry to get home anyways?

March 20, 2009 at 5:41 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Thank you, again, Marianne for the update… I was hoping since there was no Facebook update when I checked last night that he was on his way, but wondered since it hadn’t been posted here yet… Oh well, Zac & Team Sunderland always take on these challenges in the best way possible – get it done, but get it done right. I just hope it’s also soon! Very interesting to read the “day in the life” details of living on St Helena. Looking forward to reading more and getting some good news. Hang in there Zac & family – you’re in our prayers.

Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

PS Thanks DaveH, Grant, and others with sailing knowledge, cluing us non-sailors in on just why the engine is so important. Always appreciate your additional commentary!

March 20, 2009 at 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prayers, prayers, and more prayers for that engine. Were my dad still living on this earth he would have something to advise also. Praises to Mike and Denise and all of the others keeping Zac with them on St H. Where is Jen these days. Update your blog Jen, we worry about you too.

March 20, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Art Guy said...

Hi Marianne,
Just a side note since you don't have much to do these days (ha, just kidding); There are still plenty of seats remaining for the "Morning Light" fund raiser. Perhaps if you mention it again, some more folks will take notice and help this worthy cause. All my best.

March 20, 2009 at 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

I totaly agree with DaveH and Grant.
From the beginning of my sailing (about 45 years ago) my father always had the phrase:

to be very careful/affraid up front is better than beeing in deep s... later on.

Sometimes he took me out, just him and me on our Gulfstar50 and those where the best trips we had and I learned the most.

I am sure Zac and support team Sunderland will make the right decissions when to pull up the hook.
You all have a nice weekend

March 20, 2009 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Hi Croaker – I’m not familiar with the anchor you referred to (Ultra Anchor) but a few quick thoughts for you…

I would never use a Danforth style anchor, sand bottom or not, I think they are one of the most unreliable and least versatile anchors made. Some swear by their “sand bottom” capabilities, okay… great… How often do you find a “sand only” anchorage? Oh hey, mister there in the big trawler, I see your in the only sand area in this hole, could you move, I can’t deal with grass or rocks, I have a Danforth… Any rocks or lord forbid, grass, and they are junk… You get the point… For me anyhow, it’s about versatility and a Danforth isn’t versatile, especially with a grassy bottom, it clogs the chutes and you’re hosed…

I’ve always used a Delta Quick Set as my primary and a Bruce as my secondary, but honestly, the Bruce never leaves the rollers, not once… Further, my last big trip was about 10,000 miles… My Delta Quick Set never dragged or broke free… I spent one evening anchored East of Bimini, I could see a storm coming as I approached the “common” anchorage where everybody huddled… I backed off and anchored about 500’ further East. A 40knot blow set in, and the VHF lit up with dragging, crossing, collisions etc…

Also, the “recommended” anchor size is typically the “minimum” recommended weight. I always go up 30 to even 50%, depending on where I’m going… Some will argue how much heavier that anchor is to hoisted up, but I argue it’s not as heave as hoisting your boat off of someone’s dock, another boat, or worse, the rocks…

My $0.02

Daveh & Skipper

March 20, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger STEVE B said...

I am really glad that the engine failed prior to leaving port. Here is hoping that everything is just right prior to this next leg.

@Daveh, Always enjoy reading your input.

@Alex, Loved your Dad's advice on preparation. The dreaded uh-oh moment of realizing I should have paid more attention to a detail is only made worse by the admission that I knew to pay attention but disregarded focusing on the detail for the sake of convenience.

@CindyinCinci, you'll have to introduce Zac to a Five-Way when he visits you on his book tour!

Zac, Fight Complacency!


March 20, 2009 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

California Dreaming is awesome. Thanks for making it available.
Bend, OR

March 20, 2009 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

@ Croaker - I did some reasearch on the "Ultra Anchor" and it looks quite a bit like the Delta Quick Set that I have experienced to be so reliable with some "gee wiz" looking mods... I can't judge the effectivnes or $ value of their mods, but it looks about 80% the same as a Delta Quick Set...

Hope that helps...

Daveh & Skipper

March 21, 2009 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...


Thanks man. I'll check it out.

The Croaker

March 21, 2009 at 4:29 PM  
Anonymous Tim Harding said...

Hi Zac

Air-lock? Oh come on! For there to be an air lock air must be getting in somewhere. Pipes aren't porous so all the unions on the pipe run need checking and tightening. The finger of suspicion points at the fuel filter installation. This ain't rocket science and you're in harbour for Heavens sake not bobbing about on the briney. Break the last accessable union nearest the engine and thoroughly bleed the fuel line to there. Remake the union, cross your fingers and hit the starter.

OK, of course you've done all that a dozen times already and what do I know? The bottom line is that for there to be an air lock air has to be getting in. Air can sometimes get in at a union where fuel doesn't escape.

I'm now lowering my head below the parapet to avoid the flack from all your worthy seasoned advisors.

All the best,


March 22, 2009 at 5:12 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Always good to hear updates, Marianne. I'm sure Zac will leave when the time is right.

DaveH, as always your input is great - I'm not a sailor, but I do a fair bit of traveling in out of the way places and being prepared for contingencies is the single best way to stay alive. I cannot really conceive of making a trip like Zac's without some sort of motor as a fallback. Yes, there have been many years of sailing without motors but...

Grant - I think you are spot on. I see this as an experience that Zac must savor and revel in. There is the quest, of course, but along with that, there is so much more...

Zac, I appreciate you sharing / posting photos on FB. Keep us all posted and I hope you can get under way again soon - but not too soon; you seem to be having a fine time in St. Helena...

Cheers to you and to all the Pack...

milford, ohio

March 22, 2009 at 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone know if Zac's on his way? I just noticed 2new pictures he posted on his facebook..

March 22, 2009 at 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi im posting a blog for a school assighment from buford high school and id like to say they we think your gunna end up on animal planet or something like man vs wild or something. and id like to ask you what motivated you to keep going and how did u keep ur self entertained?

January 6, 2010 at 2:03 PM  

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