Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blog from Dad

Latest Position: 04/25/09 2104Z 9 18.992N 49 23.122W (744 miles from Grenada)

It's with a growing excitement that have the opportunity to jump in and give you an update and a little insight as to what is going on behind the scenes here. Talking with Zac earlier today he was moving along nicely at a steady 6.9 knots with 10 foot swells and 20-25 knots of wind. Whilst on the phone we heard a huge noise that sounded like thunder. The line went silent for awhile and we called Zac's name wondering what had happened. He had been trounced by a rogue 20ft + wave. As he regained his composure he seemed quite surprised by it but in the end - unmoved. All part of his day's work!

We continued to talk about the condition of Intrepid who since the departure has logged over 20,000 nautical miles. She has been serving Zac well as she continues on her passage. It has been four weeks today since Zac left St Helena Island. He is doing remarkably well and is excited to get into Grenada. He is looking forward to his short stay coinciding with the annual Drum Festival on the island. Maybe Zac will enjoy a chance to have a bang on the drum he picked up on Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean.

There won't be much time for play whilst in Grenada. The repairs that will be undertaken are to troubleshoot and repair Zac's radar. I'll be bringing over a complete new unit as Zac has tried all the obvious possibilities with no success and it is unlikley that there will be many spare parts readily available in Grenada. We will be installing a new auto pilot that was sponsored by the American Sailing Association. It is an upgraded model which should be a more reliable backup to the windvane. We will also be installing a new solar panel regulator. The main sail needs some stitching up. We will be taking spare parts out for the injector pump and also changing the propeller. The external antenna for the Iridium sat phone antenna needs repair.

These are the main repairs that are needed. I'm still trying to figure out how to get all that extra luggage through the airports without incurring exorbitant expenses. I've been stuffing suitcases and weighing them then reorganizing and reweighing. My last flight from San Juan to Grenada is pretty small and I don't know how much luggage I can convince them to carry.

Electrician, Mike Smith, will be joining me on this trip. He has generously offered to give his time and effort and a whole lot more which will half the work load. With Mike on the job we should be done in half an hour (just kidding). Without Mikes help earlier on during the preps Zacs dead line leaving in June would never have been met. Thank you Mike!

Jen will be hooking up with Mike and I in Puerto Rico and flying on the same small plane to Grenada. Wait til they see all of us with our baggage coming! Jen's commitment to the project has brought us all a great glimpse into Zac's reality as he travels around world.

I'm also looking forward to meeting Christian Pinkston, who will also be joining us later in the week. Christian has come on board with his company The Pinkston Group and will be conducting the PR surrounding Zac's return.

As Zac draws near the Caribbean there has been much excitement. With just under 700 nautical miles to go his compromised equipment leaves us a little more anxious then normal. Without radar Zac has to be extra cautious of ships and increased boating traffic. The radar should scan every five minutes and set off an alarm if any vessel comes within the ring set around the boat. However, his backup is the AIS receiver which gives off a signal when ships are within a set distance from Intrepid. Although this is a great system, not all boats who should be transmitting do, which makes it a good back up but not as reliable.

We have been looking at footage that Zac has managed to capture. We have been working with our Southern California PBS affiliate, KCET, on a segment that will air next Thursday April 30th on KCET's program So Cal Connected. If you don't live locally, the story will be online at It has been fun working with producer Karen Foshay and we are excited to see how her piece comes out.

Marianne realized today that she has sent over 5,000 emails since Zacs departure and fielded many more. This on top of being a very committed mother of seven who pours herself into her role as a homeschooler and devoted, beautiful wife. I marvel at how she manages to accomplish so much but we know where she draws her strength from.

We have spent much time recently dealing with some unexpected issues on the business end of Zac's adventure. There are bound to be difficulties and we are hoping to create better understand and get everything sorted out soon.

This has been an incredible experience for me. What started off as a quiet conversation between a father and son just over a year ago, God has blessed and many people both young and old have been encouraged and inspired. Check out this email hat just arrived.

Hey Zac,

I just had to say hello. My name is Brian, I'm 28, and I'm a "door to door" salesman for a cable company in Cottonwood, AZ. A "door to door" salesman is usually considered one step lower then a used car salesman, but hey, it pays the bills.
I just wanted to let you know I've been following your story ever since I heard about your journey on NPR in early 2008. I was inspired, somewhat jealous, but mostly amazed at your willingness to tackle such an enormous goal.
Not long ago, I was working in a small neighborhood that was a 55+ community, when I knocked on a door of an elderly women (early 80's) and I preceded to give her my sales pitch when I noticed a beautiful painting of a large sail boat on her wall. I asked her where she got it and she explained to me she used to work on a sailboat as a cook for a tourist company. She had seen the painting somewhere and decided to purchase it.
I then mentioned a story I was following about a sixteen year old who was sailing around the world solo, and she became very excited and said, "Yes! I've been following him to! I don't have Internet so I go down the road to my friends house and we read this BLOG thing together!"
To make a long story short, she was very happy to get her Internet hooked up, and the first page we opened was your web site. We sat and talked for a couple of hours, and I got to say, it was one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had. It was like her youth was coming back to her just speaking about what your doing.
Not only are you an inspiration, but so are your parents. I am a father of two, and I'm the kind of dad who gets nervous just watching my kids on the swing, much less watching them sale off to conquer the globe. Your parents honestly make me want to be a more trusting and motivational father.
So thanks to you and your family for the Internet sale, and my new 80 something friend.
Your almost there, and our thoughts and prayers are with you.


This adventure has come with a financial burden as well. We have been blown away by how many individuals have taken it upon themselves to generously donate. We have often mused, 'There are so many people following Zac's journey. If everyone could give $1 we could get Zac home no problem.' This thought has given birth to a plan. I'm not asking for a 13 billion dollar bailout. We are planning for Zac's return and part of the plan is a reception/celebration at a local yacht club after his press conference at the park. There will be limited space so it will need to be limited to friends, family, sponsors and media. For everyone who donates $1 or more between April 1st and the day Zac leaves Panama City on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal on his final leg home will be entered into a drawing to win 4 passes for this celebration. You will have to get yourself there (sorry, airfare is not included). We are working with a local hotel to get a discounted block of rooms for any Zac Packers interested in coming in from out of town.

While I like the idea submitted by Ken in Toronto to auction off positions as Zac's linehandlers through the canal, I think it might be a bit tricky to arrange. You all can let me know though!

It is late here. We thank you for coming on board Zac's adventure with us!



Blogger Anita said...

Thank you for the update! This entire evdevor has been amazing, God has been kind to all. I will continue to keep all in prayer, as you Mike and Jen meet with Zac, and also for Marianne as she once again holds down the fort! Such a blessed family <><

Blessings to all! Have a safe trip.
Anita Miracle
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV "Wombat"

April 26, 2009 at 3:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac and Family,

I have been following your trip ever sense you left home. I may not have sent messages to you all the time, but have now and then.

I agree with your dad about how much it is costing. Nothing in this life is free. It takes money or services to do anything. So I have donated $25.00 to your adventure. It not allot of money, I just hope that it help in some small way.

Zac you are doing a great job, keep it up and you will see the rewards for your hard work.

Talk with you soon.

Gary, Houston Tx.

April 26, 2009 at 4:12 AM  
Blogger MindWalker said...

Well, Laurence. You've come up with a great challenge. Although I've submitted a pittance in the past, that was before April 1. So, I'll send another just for the fun of being in the drawing. Who knows, I may be one of those fortunate souls greeting our sailor home from the sea.

Fun, indeed!

April 26, 2009 at 4:59 AM  
Blogger Bill Mann said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 26, 2009 at 5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Laurence for all the updates on Zac and continuing to be such a supportive Dad. I have quietly been following Zac's adventure since BEFORE he left MDR and am in awe of the maturity and wisdom of this young man. He is destined for great things in life!!
I understand the financial commitment you and Marianne have undertaken to support your son in his quest and want to help in some way. I encourage everyone of you new and old Zac pac fans to think about how you can help this family out. It may be $1 or it may be $100 it doesn't matter. So many of you have helped out tremendously already and the Sunderland family is truly appreciative, let's bring Zac back home as a collective effort and help this family out.
God bless you Zac, we look forward to seeing you sail into the marina channel shortly!!
God bless you Sunderland family for the awesome support and encouragement you have always given to Zac.
God bless all the sponsors who have so greatly blessed Zac's adventure with either their products or services.
And of course, God bless all the faithful Zac Pac fans who have followed this inspiring young man around the world!
Gloucester, VA

April 26, 2009 at 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

Here's an idea..I will have wrist braclets made that will commemorate Zac's trip. I will make up adults and kids one and will sell them in "peices of 8". This will help with expenses and the Packers will have a momento from this trip. Price TBA. Reckon worst case in 8 for US$15. I will donate shipping costs.

April 26, 2009 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Laurence, may I suggest you announce how much you need to raise in funding? I know you're trying to be low-pressure on that end, but if we understand the end goal, we'll better understand the magnitude of the challenge and our motivation will match.

For many of us, Zac and your family have been daily entertainment and daily inspiration for many months. We are a part of this and we want to contribute in a way that we know will help. So if its fifty thousand or ten thousand or only five thousand thats needed, please let us know. Many will only give a dollar, but others who can may do much more. The dollar per person is just kind of confusing...

Can I ask that you attempt to include a live web broadcast of his reception and return for those of us who can't be there? Add that cost to what you need, or if anyone can sponsor or perform that with their company, it would be great. I'd love to be part of that but can't, and of course you have limited space. I'd contribute even more to be there in a virtual way.


April 26, 2009 at 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Thank you for the great post..the e-mail from AZ was so sweet.
After reading the LA times blurb last week, i said to my husband that it was time to donate to Zac's trip home..he agreed.. so i signed on this morning to do that and read your post..perfect timing or what!!
We live in So cal. and were most definitely planning on being in MDR for the homecoming but i so understand about the cost for the huge crowd Zac will bring..
Another idea i had is offering our 2008 toy-box trailer we have that sleeps's just me & my husband so i can take 6 ppl to save on hotel rooms.. if needed we can bring it and set it up in the parking lot and i bet im not the only one with a big toy-box so maybe some of us locals can do the same? I will click the donate button and keep my fingers crossed for the drawing.
I agree that you should give us an amount so we can be sure we make it and then some!!
Take care, be safe on your trip to Zac and give that Capt. a hug for me!
Laura MacDougal
Bermuda Dunes CA

April 26, 2009 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

Again a very nice blog. I check a few times a day to read the comments.
In case I win a ticket for the reception please be so kind and give it to somebody who likes to be there. Unfortunately disaster stroke on my side. I have to go to Germany right around the time Zac comes home. I planned to be in MDR but now I have to fly East instead of West. Germany is not necessarily my # 1 travel destination LOL and being there without a computer for tracking Zac is even worth. But what can you do – when mother calls one has to fly. I hope Zac’s blog will stay updated for a while after he returns home so the withdraw symptoms won’t be that bad for us Zac packers.
Have a nice weekend everybody and nice wind to all who drag their boats out of winter storage.

April 26, 2009 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger mark said...

can someone explain how to figure out zacks latest poisition all those numbers, I have a world map.

thanks... mark

April 26, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger mike3k said...

Do you have an address you can ship the parts to in Grenada? It would probably be easier & cheaper than traveling with such a big load.

April 26, 2009 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger LouAnne said...

Brian from Cottonwood, AZ's story is kind of ironic. I heard about Zac's "adventure" last year from my brother who lives in Cottonwood, AZ. He had found the site somehow and passed it on from his computer to me here in Antioch, California. My brother told me he had always wanted to do what Zac is doing. Together we began to follow Zac's blog. Sadly my brother passed away December 21st, just short of his 79th birthday, but I've continued reading each day's post and most of the comments. In a way it has helped through my loss of my only sibling.

In today's world I am proud to "know" Zac who is a fine example of what today's youth should be all about. I can only hope my 7 grandchildren, ages 5 to 20, will do so well.

Off to hit the donate button!

April 26, 2009 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

As usual, we don't have a lot of spare ducats around the Mouse House, but I'll donate a little tonight after the weekly bill-pay meeting. Not that I want to pay Bill. ;-) Shearing is for sheep, and Zac is anything but that. :-)

If you're looking for inexpensive (read free) entertainment at your reception, I'm available as a solo act, or if space isn't an issue, I also do the booking for my 3-piece band. praying daily Numbers 6:24-26
Mouse in Whittier CD is still for sale here!

April 26, 2009 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Deja said...

OK I'll donate a dollar where do i paypal it to ?

April 26, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Laurence: How does one make a donation for this purpose? Marjorie

April 26, 2009 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Sherna Taylor said...

What an exciting post!! Zac has been a blessing and an inspiration to so many and You and Marianne have truly inspired me to be a more trusting supportive parent.

Hopefully you will get to enjoy a few hours of R & R in Grenada.

Btw. If you are travelling on AA, your luggage will be booked all the way to Grenada and you wont have to deal with it in San Juan. Hopefully you'll met a lenient agent in LAX
Have a safe Trip

April 26, 2009 at 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Dell should donate 100K to the cause :-) and they should swap out the Panasonic Tough Book with their copy LatitudeTM XFR D630. They can shoot an ad in Panama with it and when he gets back. Their entire marketing is geared to Zac's age group with their gaming computers. What better advertisement to have than Zac banging away in his ruggedized Dell laptop :-)

Come on ! Michael Dell can pull 100K out of his back pocket without blinking an eye !


April 26, 2009 at 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sunderlands have put out a call for help, and there are likely enough of us following Zac's journey to set things right. But I know the $1 won't cut it, so I've sent my fifth or sixth $100 donation along today (since Hawaii) hoping that between now and homecoming another 1500 fellow armchair travellers can do the same. That should just about put things right.

April 26, 2009 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Laffing Dawg said...

Thank you, thank you Laurence, So nice to hear from you after such a long silent time. I love the post and the email from Brian was amazing.

I am getting so excited for Zac's homecoming but wondering, also, what ever am I going to do without this blog in my life.

May you have an easy journey to Grenada and a successful time there.

You are always in my prayers,
Bend, OR

April 26, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...


An absolutely mind boggling blog entry -- you covered an amazing amount of information in a limited space.

We thank you for the update and thanks to all the sponsors contributing equipment and service to Zac.

I am making a small contribution that will be no panacea for the financial requirements to complete Zac/s program, but all things are relative and it's what I can afford at this time. Unfortunately, no way can I make a contribution that is proportionate to the entertainment and satisfaction I've gotten from being a "Zac-Pac'er". I hope that everyone will feel this way and do whatever they can. It would all add up. Don't assume that everyone else is doing this, so you don't need to ... you're here with us so join in and ante up at least a token amount.

And finally, a bit of wisdom, if not humor:

The pessimist complains about an adverse wind.
The optimist hopes that it will change.
The realist simply adjusts his sails!

Best of luck in accomplishing the required chores and maintenance in Grenada ... then, Bring 'er on home Zac!

The Croaker

April 26, 2009 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Craig Schreiber @ St. Gregory School said...


Here's another fund raising idea. My students and I plan on watching Zac on the webcams at the Miraflores lock of the Canal. Instead of tickets to his homecoming , which we could not possibly attend anyway, how about a live phone conversation with Zac on camera at the lock. My students would go ballistic and we could film it from our end.

Just an idea. We are currently raising funds in our classes in order to make a small contribution.

Thanks for keeping everyone updated on all progress.

Craig SChreiber
St. Gregory Barbarigo School

April 26, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can make a donation by either going to Zac's Store and clicking on "Donate" or by clicking on the yellow "Donate" link on the right hand side of the blog. You can also mail a check to Zac. Click on the 'Contact' link at the bottom of any page on the web site for mailing address.

April 26, 2009 at 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The numbers are LATITUDE & LONGITUDE. This is the distance from 0 degrees on the map. The Equator and the Prime Meridian. It is calculated in Degree, Minutes and Seconds from each 0 degree position. Look on you World Map for the Equator, 0 degree line running horizontally around the Earth and look for the Prime Meridian line running vertically from top to bottom of the Earth :-)

Latitude, the horizontal lines running around the Earth is the first set of numbers:

9 18.992N

If your map has all these lines marked, count up (North) from 0 degrees, the Equator, 9 degrees (above the Equator).


49 23.122W

From the Prime Meridian the other 0 degree (the line running from top to bottom on your map), count 49 degrees West from that line.

The two coordinates will meet up and that is where you will find Zac

Here. I even made you a nice picture to illustrate it all :-)

April 26, 2009 at 5:00 PM  
Anonymous s/v aquarius said...

Laurence, you and Marianne are an inspiration to parents everywhere. To be better, more TRUSTING parents of our wonderful teenagers.

And Zac, you give us hope for the youth of tomorrow. Not that our own kids don't... it is just that they are close to us and we don't always see the specialness of them. Following your story has made me more aware of the dreams of my own 2 teens. It is our job as parents to do whatever it takes to help our kids get on the way to achieving those dreams.

Namaste (the light in me honours the light in you),

Mom, wife, sailor

April 26, 2009 at 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ZACM, MOM & DAD -I have been following since June 08 as well. If I had a million dollars, it would be your! Awesome.

April 26, 2009 at 7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I've told you so many times, I'm NOT an electrician. I'm an Electrical Engineer with more than 30 years of practical experience designing various systems, specializing in embedded microprocessor systems and software. I've designed a number of very exotic systems, but perhaps none so exotic or so much fun as working with you, my friend!

See you in Tuesday in San Juan (on the way to Grenada)!

Mike Smith

April 26, 2009 at 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Dawn Ziegler said...

Don't forget folks.........

If you can't donate cash you can help when you shop online for your normal everyday items when you shop through Zac's Aisle19 store.
Flowers for Mothers day, Golf gifts for Dad on Fathers Day, Travel, Pet supplies ETC....
Just about anything you can think of can be purchased online.

Every little bit helps!

If you have any questions about Aisle19 you can contact me at

This is so Laurence and Marianne can concentrate on Zacs safe return.

Dawn Ziegler

April 28, 2009 at 8:46 AM  

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