Thursday, April 30, 2009

Communication Breakdown

Latest Position: 04/30/09 2003Z 12 1.008N 60 29.886W

Mom here...

It has been a difficult few days for all of his here behind the scenes. As many of you know, Zac contacts us here at home twice a day at least. We get his position and exchange weather information and navigation strategy as well as shooting the breeze and keeping each other up on all of the latest news.

Zac didn't call yesterday - all day. He didn't call today either. Laurence is in Grenada and went to give the heads up to the Coast Guard there just in case Zac didn't show up as expected on Friday. They offered to send their regular recognizance helicopter that flies out of Trinidad over his last known position and scout out the area at first light. We were so grateful for their sincerity and desire to help.

This morning when Laurence and crew went down to the Coast Guard office to see how things were going, no one seemed to know what he was talking about. The helicopter out of Trinidad could not be sent with out the Sargent's approval and he didn't get in until 8:00. They would have to send him the message - but they had said they sent it last night... No one seemed to know what was procedure or how to organize the flight. In the end we still don't know if any aircraft went out. We did not feel it necessary to organize a search & rescue but it sure would have been nice to confirm that our worst fears were NOT true!

For any of you reading this blog for the first time, Zac has been at sea, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, for the past nearly 5 weeks - the longest leg of his trip to date. A week ago or so his radar stopped receiving for some reason and he has had to wake himself up every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day all week long to check the horizon for shipping. Fortunately, his AIS receiver is still working well - it just isn't picking up every ship. This fatigue factor is probably incomprehensible to most of us but can be very dangerous. The mind is foggy and reactions are slow. To say that we have been more concerned for Zac's safety than usual is an understatement. To suddenly stop hearing from him under these circumstances was especially nerve wracking.

As usual, the prayer requests flew out across the Internet. We purposed to set our minds on things above - taking our fearful thoughts captive and repeating God's promises loudly as if to drown out any negative thoughts. God's hand has been so heavily evident on this trip, we just knew that Zac had to be OK. I prayed for peace and received it. Fear crept in and I prayed for a sign. I went to the mailbox and found it - a post card, mailed over a month ago, from Zac while he was in St Helena - his last stop. Another amazing 'coincidence'!

Zac's post card from St Helena

Beautiful St Helena Island in the South Atlantic
We heard from Zac late this morning. Before Zac left on his trip he was sponsored a little gadget called a SPOT Satellite Messenger. It is used for reporting your position (lat/long) when you are in distant places, say out of cell phone reach. It is a great device. It offers 3 options: '911' - come and get me (which alerts international search & rescue services), 'Help' - just lets whoever is receiving the signal (friends, family) that you need help, or 'OK' - reports the person's position and a wonderful "Hi. It's Zac. I'm OK. Just checking in." Sent as a text message right to my cell phone! It is a standard message that was preprogrammed before Zac left last June but it was music to my ears. He hasn't used it in many months because the coverage zone is not world wide yet. He must have known we would be worried and dug it out.
He has sent several messages today updating his position. We can see that he is on course and moving right along. He should be in beautiful Grenada tomorrow. I'm sure he is anxious. The yearly Drum Festival begins Friday and he didn't want to miss it!

He must be having some problem with his sat phone or charger. We are not sure if he has any other equipment failures at this time but know that he has studied this passage and approach to Grenada extensively over the past 5 weeks so will find his way to port in time.
Laurence has been busy arranging a slip at the Port Louis Marina, a sail maker to repair the tear in Zac's main sail, a mechanic to troubleshoot the Yanmar, and finding the lay of the land in St George's.
Besides being viciously attacked by a cockroach on his first night's stay he has thoroughly enjoyed Grenada and her kind and generous people.
Good news - Karen Foshay at KCET said that the piece on Zac that airs tonight at 8:00 will be online at 8:30 tonight. The web address is and the piece is called The Year of Living Dangerously. If you like the piece, please leave a comment online. KCET is our local PBS affiliate and program sponsors love a good review.

If you are new to Zac's story and reading the blog for the first time - welcome! All of Zac's blogs written over the past 10.5 months are archived on a list on the right hand column of the blog. You can read Zac's entries over this past year, a year of living dangerously, and also of living life to its fullest.




Blogger "Skipper" said...

(((Mom))) I've been following Zac's journey since the beginning but never commented before ... this post just made me want to send you a huge hug. As a mother of three and grandmother of three, I can't imagine what it would be like to be you during this time, and I was so relieved to read that Zac's okay! Your whole family, not just Zac, is amazing...

April 30, 2009 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Rory Gogan Singapore said...

Gotta love the ZacMan switching to MacGyver mode! ...I was reading MA's blog and thinking like Ulysses Everett McGill, "Damn! We're in a tight spot!"

April 30, 2009 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Marianne... As always it has to be rough when there is a resounding silence when you expect contact. I am of course glad contact was made, even if it's just, in network terms, a "heartbeat".

I know it will be a happy reunion in Grenada at some point tomorrow!

Cap'n Zac, you go man! Stay safe and stay hydrated...


milford, ohio

April 30, 2009 at 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marianne: I just got finished reading your latest entry! As I was reading it I realized it was time for the PBS show about Zac. Then I realized what you were writing about, again not hearing from your son for two days! Oh my gosh! The true life drama going on here is amazing. You are a very brave family with such amazing faith! I have been with you guys since the the beginning. Reading every blog faithfully. Peace and Love to all!

April 30, 2009 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...


The beginning of this post was like a lightening bolt to the solar plexus. The release provided by the conclusion was like the breath of life itself.

What a trip!

God bless Zac, God bless all the Sunderlands, and God bless all who care!

Good Night. I'll be doing some sleeping for Zac by proxy! Unfortunately, I can not stand watch for him that way.

The Croaker

April 30, 2009 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the piece on KCET. It was great. I cant wait for Zac to return and get the full account of the voyage and all the video. Very Exciting

April 30, 2009 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Sherna Taylor said...

I cant tell you what the first part of this blog did to me. It was such a relief when i got to the part that you received the text message. This little no communication episodes scare the jeebies out of me. I cant even begin to imagine what you and Lawrence are feeling.
I was somewhat surprised when i heard that Zac was not yet in Grenada.

Will continue to pray for his safety


April 30, 2009 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger Franklin 5 said...

Zac....make sure to call the friends of ours that we have in Grenada (I gave the phone #'s to your mom)....they are very hospitable and will help any way they can! Also be sure to try some of the local dishes! The BBQ'd chicken on the side of the road is really good too....(a tip...just make sure the BBQ is smoking....that is what we were told!!) You'll have to try callaloo soup too at the Tropicana (across the lagoon where you are docking)....delicious...just doesn't look it!

We love Grenada and hope to maybe live there for a year sometime in the not so distant future....I hope your time there is very fabulous!

Praying for you!
Trish and family
Winnipeg, Manitoba

April 30, 2009 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger bakergirls said...

Wow, Marianne! That was another page turning, heart wrenching blog. Tears welled up in my eyes thinking of Zac not being heard from. Glad the conclusion of the blog was another answer to prayer. Always a cliffhanger. Loved the KCET special. Thanks for giving the heads up on that.
The Baker Family
P.S. Zac enjoy the drum festival.

April 30, 2009 at 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great little device. Never heard of it until now. Totally life saver: to assume the SSB radio was also down otherwise a relay to someone onland to Mom via phone or email would have been the best.

Almost there looks like 77 miles from the lastest coordinates. A hearty meal and a comfortable bed surely awaits :-)

April 30, 2009 at 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Marianne....Thank goodness for the SPOT. What a difficult time you have endured, bless your hearts.I am sure Zac would have been worrying that he couldn't let you know.His lack of sleep was a great concern,in the circumstances, maybe clouding his judgement... so I for one will be relieved and overjoyed when he is safe on land. And the postcard arriving....what a precious.
I'm up early because I just had to check if we had any news!
Good to hear that Laurence is sussing the place out and will hopefully have good connections to get stuff done.
I am so so so happy for you all.

UK friend

April 30, 2009 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger r@oxnard shores, ca said...

God is good all the time and where two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there! Thanks for the opportunity to pray for Zac and his safe journey home.. Just watched the KCET segment. The video was great. It is wonderful to see Zac in his environment, and feel as if we are traveling along with him.
I have been following Zac since last June and am looking forward to watching him sail into MDR next month!
Zac.. Enjoy your R&R in Grenada and the Drum Festival. It should be a good time.
Safe sailing, and God's continued blessings on your adventure!!

May 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Danvers said...

I haven't posted in a while; glad to hear that Zac is in comms again and will be arriving in Grenada shortly.

Just as a matter of interest, why did he not use the SPOT Satellite Messenger when he was missing in action at other times - no Sat coverage?

May 1, 2009 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Great video on KCET! I've been following Zac for months. What an incredible family you have. Your faith is amazing and I truly admire you as parents. I have 4 daughters and cannot even begin to comprehend what you must be going through. What a MAN you have raised. Keep up the good work and I pray for his safe arrival home in June!
Pam (Corona del Mar, CA)

May 1, 2009 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Anita said...


God bless all of you, the times when you've not heard from Zac mush be excruciating! I know I get all worked up when I READ about it!

Prayers being sent out as Zac, Laurence and crew ready Intrepid to carry Zac for the final leg home.

Would love to have an address in Panama!!

Hugs, blessings, and a wish for fair winds and following seas.

Waterloo, NY
Captain SV Wombat

May 1, 2009 at 3:03 AM  
Blogger kwip said...

Hi Marianne;
Like everyone else, I'm reading every blog entry and waiting anxiously for every scrap of an update. Although I don't chime in every post, I'm one of the many people that are keeping Zac (& your family) close in our thoughts. Thank you for the update, and all the best - can't wait to read about the happy reunion!

May 1, 2009 at 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

What a great little video.
The boom was a bad break emazing that the sail survived. Close to the end they show a prop wash but not from Zac's boat. Must have been a power boat with 2 engines.:-) Glad that everything worked out ok without contact for so long.
Have a nice weekend everybody

May 1, 2009 at 5:30 AM  
Blogger John W said...

Well, all I can say is Praise the Lord. I was holding my breath to the last. That's it John MSP

May 1, 2009 at 5:37 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Another nail biting post Marianne. I can only imagine how you must have felt these last few days. Thankfully all is well and Zac is in great hands. Hopefully by this time Zac and Dad are re-united again.

What a great special on KCET last night. Marianne & Laurence you both came across on TV very well. I had many friends watch the special and received many calls right after the show ended. A big Thank You to KCET for airing this special, great job.

If anyone missed the special it will air again tonight Friday night at 8:30 pm on KCET.

Zac, relax a bit and get some much needed sleep. Laurence I'm sure will be busy scaring off the roaches and repairing Intrepid.

Rest & Repair,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

May 1, 2009 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger CaptainRon said...

Psa. 65:5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.

Any parent knows what it's like to have a kid not arrive home when they say their going to. It's terribly unsettling. And you've had to deal with that more times than I wish to think about. The only way I've been able to settle myself is to know that whatever happens, live or die, they truly are safe, hid with Christ in God. Nevertheless, I'm so glad to hear Zac checked in with SPOT. Looks like coverage will be generally available again with that little gem. That's good. Have him carry extra batteries for it to ease your mind - and ours. I've followed Zac from the beginning but haven't commented until now. He's in our prayers and so is your family. I'm just a little bit younger than Robin Graham and sailed around the world vicariously via National Geographic although I have made it to Dana Point and I do have a 30 footer I've sailed all over the west coast for the past 28 years and so I've really enjoyed Zac's reports. Watched the piece on KCET last night. I really enjoy hearing the technical aspects of the trip. Thanks.

May 1, 2009 at 6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so relieved that this May Day will mean hot food, hugs from Dad, Jen and Mike ---and a long, well deserved sleep. There is another meaning for mayday, but we're not going there! Wishing you well.
Kodiak Mike

May 1, 2009 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger valntim said...

amazing piece on kcet. amazing blog yesterday. All will be well.
To "annonymous" yesterday:
If a multi-million dollar quarterback can throw a football to a multi-million dollar reciever, to win a superbowl, and be called a hero........ certainly the Sunderlands have earned the right to call their son a "hero".
He may not be a soldier or a marine in Afghanistan or Iraq. Those would be "war heroes".

he-ro (noun)=
1) in mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2) A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacraficed his life.
3) A person noted for special achievement in a particular field.
4) The principal male character of a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.
Well Zac is qualified by all four examples! I guess he is a hero!

Tim Burns(palm springs, ca)
"following" Zac since he was on Mark and Brian @ klos in L.A. in April or May of 2008

May 1, 2009 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger The Matrix said...

Thank God!

May 1, 2009 at 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Good Morning Marianne,

You have once again lived another great chapter in the book to come.

Truly, you are an inspiration for all of us Mothers to release our deepest fears to God when we are petrified for our children's safety - and yes, to look for a sign of reassurance and peace. I admire you. You're a great teacher in more ways than one. So glad that your baby is safe.


May 1, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like 10-15 kts winds @ Zac's last coordinates all across and through Greneda with 77 miles to go. Say 10 hours sailing since last night say 10 pm EST when last coordinates came in.

Is Zac there yet?

Does Mom promise to update immediately upon hearing, so we can all breath a collective sigh of relief and finally get out and go do some weekend grocery shopping :-)

Mom needs to Twitter on the fly from her cell phone if she can't be at the computer all day.

May 1, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

I'm so grateful that you ultimately established contact with Zac. Your post just about brought me to my knees.

My husband and I watched the KCET spot on Zac. He commented how you'd matured from the beginning of the journey, and how much you had evolved emotionally as well.

The show was a bright spot on a day when I discovered I have breast cancer. I can't tell you how uplifting it was to see some footage that we'd not seen before, and the pride that I felt being intimately involved (via the blog) with each and every moment of your journey. God bless you and your family, Zac!

Hopefully, you've downed a few Gator's and whatever cold libations your Dad buys you!

May 1, 2009 at 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update Marrianne. Wow all these scary moments. Thank the good Lord. Angels are with Zac for sure.

I just finished watching the KCET piece. What is crazy is how that footage really puts it all into perspective. When we were all reading about the boom breaking and the forestay, yeah we all knew these are not good things and certainly could be potentially life threatening. Thank God that Zac has the wherewithal to document his feelings and what is going on. I can't believe how the blog suddenly had come to life. What an amazing movie this has been. A real life movie. Also what an incredible support system his family is Marrianne I don't know how you do it? You are truly a Superwoman and Super Mom. What a great early Mothers Day gift that was! Happy Mothers Day Marrianne. And especially when you needed it the most. And Lawrence love you too man !
You guys need to hire an agent, because Zac will need it when he returns. The Whitehouse will be nothing compared to Letterman. Or Oprah. ! Anyway I am happy to hear you received your much needed message.
Chris Carnaghi
Alhambra, CA

May 1, 2009 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Wow, another nail biter, tear jerker and finally sigh of relief post.
Thanks so much for the link to the PBS story. I just got done watching it and loved every minute of it. Can't wait for the movie!
This has been such a great adventure and I'm so thankful that I came across Zac's story just before he left MDR.
Team Sunderland and Zac have been such an inspiration for so many. I'm so proud to be a member of the "Zac Pac"
Hopefully Zac has arrived in Grenada by now and Laurence has given him a giant HUG from everyone back home.
Sending prayers and good thoughts daily.
Tucson, AZ

May 1, 2009 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger j said...

i couldn't take a breath until the Spot message, then i couldn't finish reading the post for a while because my eyes were all wet, God Bless you Marianne, thanks for the update
Rock On Zac

May 1, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Oh, Marianne, how you make my mother's heart stop with some of you posts! At the post card I could breath again... so glad Zac could send that message and give you some relief. Anxiously awaiting the news of his arrival in Grenada. So very proud of Zac and the entire family/support crew!

Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

May 1, 2009 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger km said...

I felt as if I was holding my breath just reading this. I can't imagine how tough that was for you all. (((Hugs))) and prayers!!! I'm sure the father/son reunion will be fantastic soon.

May 1, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Joy on Journey said...

Praise the Lord you are in safe! Must have been so good to see your dad again! You can SLEEEPPPP! Wish we could have gotten your mum out to one of the ports along the way.
Enjoying the photos. Christian Pinkston put up some wonderful ones on FB - you look great!

I really enjoyed the socal profile. Really got to show real faith applied on this journey - We do what we can and we pray and trust Zac to God. It was very good! Proud of you guys!

Well, Lady MA - holding down the fort - hope the kids are all being angels for you!

Well DONE, Captain! Enjoy the festival and your Rest, Recreation and Repairs. Looks like a beautiful place to hang around for a few days. :) ENJOY!

LA in MN

May 3, 2009 at 3:27 PM  

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