Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

Latest Position: 04/22/09 1521Z 6 01.514N 41 58.710W

Progress is still good here. I've been doing 160 mile days and it has been nice to watch the miles to Grenada tick off. Yesterday the radar stopped working. I trouble shot it with my dad and the electrician but I still haven't been able to figure it out. All the connections that I can get to look good. The problem may be up in the dome.

Because of this, I've had to wake up every 20 minutes at night to scan the horizon. When the sun comes out I get a few hours of solid sleep. I still have the AIS ships radar but a good third of the ships I pass don't have it on and so are not picked up. It is going to get more dangerous as I get closer to Panama and the shipping increases so I've got to keep a good watch.

I passed a cargo ship today called Front Commander. It passed about 2 miles off but the AIS picked it up 10 miles away. The radio operator hailed me and we chatted for awhile. They were headed to Singapore and had 38 days before they got in.

I had another bad headache yesterday but am much better today. I could really go for a nice, cold Gatorade right now.

I've got roughly 1100 miles to go to Grenada and am really looking forward to getting in in about a week.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Someone from the last set of comments of the 20th mentioned the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal. They do in fact have some excellent live web cameras set up there and we would love to be able to witness your passage through them. It would have to be a daylight passage. I know these things are hard to schedule, but if it could be done during the hours when school children are in class (8am to 2:30pm central time) my students would consider the experience awesome.
Keep posting daily so we might know about when you reach that point.
Your many friends from St. Gregory School
Houma, LA

April 22, 2009 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

You go, guy! It completely rocks that you are making such incredible time! You will soon be in the home stretch! Way to go! Steve

April 22, 2009 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Becky said...


You are making great progress. That's not good about the radar and I hope you are able to sort out it's problem.

I hope your engine is starting and working in case you need an emergency exit to avoid being swallowed up by some ship. What is with these ships anyway? Don't they have the same ability to see you on radar that you have to see them? And don't they know you are in the area. After all, by now, everybody who is interested in shipping and sailing should know about Zac Sunderland's world adventure!

Be safe~~~I'm praying the good winds keep pushing you forward and the engine is ready if needed!


April 22, 2009 at 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Bill Jamison said...

The problems with your radar really show how different it was before sailors had all of the electronics they do now. Imagine doing your journey without the aid of a satellite phone, gps, radio, and radar! As difficult as this trip for you it would have been so much more difficult even just 25 years ago!

Hopefully the winds will hold and continue speeding you on your way to Grenada. It must be very satisfying to put those miles of ocean behind you.

April 22, 2009 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger Rachel M. said...

You keep on going, Zac! Will continue to pray for you and your wonderful family. God's blessings to each of you. (:

April 22, 2009 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go Zack! Keep it up we are praying for you. Soli Di Goloria.
Shiloh, IL

April 22, 2009 at 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mom can track shipping traffic for Zac. Not every ship is tracked, most are via their AIS. She can ping Zac about whatever vessels are in his area:

(click on the map to zoom in on Zac's area - also scroll down for all the data of the ships) a substitute for keeping watch as well of course :-)

April 22, 2009 at 6:49 PM  
Anonymous laura said...

Damn those sure that's whats causing your it a dull ache? Get them out as soon as you can.
happy to hear your moving along..

April 22, 2009 at 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

It's good that U got to chat with a friendly voice on the Front Commander. Knowing there is someone in your neighborhood is reassuring. They should have dropped U over some treats from their galley.

April 22, 2009 at 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Hi Zac! this is fascinating about the webcam through the Canal... I'll be keeping a watch out for updates on that!

I agree with the idea about the teeth contributing to the headaches... keep hydrated! more than you think, but the teeth could be causing a a dull pain up the side to the temple...

great site on the ship watching! I'm not sure I fully understand how to read it, but those who are knowlegeable about that would find it a great source!

I've been usually reading just your blogs only and not the comments, but today I thought I would... great comments today, so I'm glad I checked.

Take Care Zac - are you taking videos at times still? you posted one back during your Pacific crossing, they are difficult to process and add to the site from out in the middle of the ocean, but are you taking some anyhow just for yourself?? also, what are you making for dinners these days??? I'd love to know!!

thinking of you daily,

April 22, 2009 at 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal said...

Someone asked about radar and the ability of ships to see Zac's Intrepid.

The scary news is that fiberglass boats don't show up much at all on radar. Most sailboats carry a metal radar reflector intended to increase the chances of being spotted, but those don't work much either.

Even scarier are the stories you hear about how many of these ships are basically flying blind, with crews up on the bridge doing just about anything but monitoring their instruments.

As Zac points out, the shipping traffic is just going to get heavier and heavier as all the vessels start funneling toward the Panama Canal.

Hope he can get the radar fixed in Genada.

- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

April 23, 2009 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger Willyboy said...

Zac, good to hear you're moving along well! I understand the Gatorade desire, but that raises a question - don't you stock Gatorade powder or something similar for electrolyte replacement? As much as I like to sing about hydration, the electrolytes are also very important to replace.

Sorry to hear another headache hit, and I hope you don't get them often.

Stay sharp, stay well, and stay hydrated!

Cheers to you and all,

milford, ohio

April 23, 2009 at 5:10 AM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Zac, remember, the night vision scope will see a ships light over the horizon, MUCH further than you naked eye... My experience with it was that sometimes it would see things before my radar, which was 58' off the water line...

Good luck, stay safe....

Daveh & Skipper

April 23, 2009 at 5:42 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Radar not working? Hopefully getting up every 20 minutes will work out. Make sure you stay alert when you get up a take a good hard look. Hopefully you'll be able to fix this problem and get more sleep. It's great you're still making good miles every day.

I hope by the time I finish writing this your headache will be gone. The headache might be happening because of the lack of sleep or not eating properly. Please make sure you're feeding that body food on a regular basis.

Stay Alert,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

April 23, 2009 at 6:18 AM  
Anonymous Panama Girl said...

will you pass by panama? when?. or already passed through here....would be good to bring my nephew who loves the sea to see you in the Flamenco Marine. I hope you get your dream and get out you headache Zac.... Go Go Go... Buena Suerte / Good Luck

April 23, 2009 at 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Great to hear you are still making very good progress on this long leg... Too bad about the interupted sleep! Ugh... Keeping you in my prayers.

Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

April 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Glad to hear you're making such good progress, sorry to hear about the radar and headaches.
Hang in there, you're doing great.
Wish I could send you a gatorade!
Sail Safe,
Tucson, AZ

April 23, 2009 at 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the radar dome half way up the mast?

When all else fails, just give it a good smack. Do you have a pole long enough of any kind so you don't need to climb up there? Give the thing a couple of good taps, should shake the cobwebs out of it :-) How about the wiring is it fed through and down inside the mast? Is it fixed or can you give the wiring a good tug or jiggle from the bottom of the mast?

If you don't have a long pole or similar, lob an apple or something at the dome. I'll bet all it needs is a good nudge to get working again.

And it's not as if you are going to break it (further) :-)

April 23, 2009 at 8:59 AM  
Anonymous said...


I've been following you since you left Marina Del Rey. It's amazing to see all the comments from folks following you like I am. You're quite the inspiration for all of us. Hang in there, be safe and see you in Marina Del Rey upon your return.

Riverside, CA

April 23, 2009 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Laffing Dawg said...

Sail on friend Zac. I'll bet part of the headaches are your body's need for that Gatorade. Stock up on it in Grenada.

I'm celebrating with my mom her 92nd birthday today.

It's all good,
Bend, OR

April 23, 2009 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

No one has yet mentioned the notice in the L.A. Times today referring readers to a Pete Thomas article on the LA Times Website about the Sunderlands financial concerns. Do check it out at

It's obvious that it's time for the Zac Pac to really show their support financially if they want the dream to become a reality.

Marilyn in Woodland Hills

April 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM  
Anonymous JiffyLube said...

I've been following the problems that you've had with the different systems on your boat, and it seems that the self-steering systems has given you the most trouble...or am I wrong in my observation?

April 23, 2009 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger webmaster said...

I'm really enjoying following your adventure!

One point, that's an AIS receiver (or transceiver). Some people incorrectly refer to it as an AIS radar. It's actually just a radio receiver. Some radars have AIS built in and are called AIS Radar, but would more correctly be called Radar with AIS. But, that's a small quibble.

Thanks for letting the world share your trip. I, too, would like to know when you're heading through Panama. It would be cool to see you going through.


April 23, 2009 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Electronics are not like they once were. Time was, you really could simply kick the thing to get it back in working order... just a matter of discharging a static magnetic charge... nowadays, though, a complete power down and reboot works just as frequently... but I expect that has already been tried a few times. Maybe a combination of the two "repairs" might work.
"Seattle" is right about losers on the bridge... we had a passenger ferry sink here because the crew didn't know how to use the navigation equipment and they ran full speed into an island at night and sank... then there was the crew that fell asleep on the bridge and ran full speed into the island they were supposed to stop at... and there was the captain who over-corrected and hit the marina and sank a boat or two before taking off, and then there was the captain whose reverse gear failed due to an old cotter pin and who ran into a marina to avoid a harder crash into the ferry dock. And the ferry cut in half by a Russian freighter. Come to think of it, Zac is probably the best skipper at sea.

April 23, 2009 at 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting about the radar. I wonder if it is condensation. After sitting in that hight humidity in the doldrums all that time, now flying north into cooler temps. moisture messed up the radar dome and it's just a matter of time to dry out? You'd think there would be a database of sailors who have done this before and recording quirks and wonky odditities with equipments going from South to North or vice versa. For example exactly that: if you stuck in the doldrums for 7 days in 100 degree heat and catch fast winds north expect some electronics to fritz out until they dry out.

Which has me wondering about this equipment sponsers. Never having given it too much thought, always just understood it they provided equipment in exchange for mentioing on website or news paper articles, or having their logo on the boat or sail etc. etc. But absolutely these sailors like Zac are should be providing the uniquest of field testing of their products that they could ever hope for. Sure they can attach a water proof sat phone to a robotic arm and dunk it in a tank of water 1 million times in a lab and declare it waterproof and rugged :-) but on a trip like this under real condtions real usage, different weather, water whatever, they couldn't pay someone for such data feedback.

Does Zac provide feeback on the products sponsered? Like this radar, pretty sure the manufacturer would love to trouble shoot it found it what is wrong so that they can rectifiy it in future models maybe even call it 'circumnavigation proof'

If feedback is generally requested in exchange for the normal product placement advertising I can't see why any manufacturer of any product related wouldn't gladly hand over goods for such unique real world field testing.

April 23, 2009 at 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just learned of your adventure. I've been away from sailing for a couple of years, and read an article in the LA Times about your journey.

Your trip is truly amazing. The insertion of technology on a trip like yours has allowed people to follow you around the globe.

As a young twenty something I remember following Tanya Anebei through Cruising World articles when she circumnavigated with a similar goal back in the early 80's. It was agony waiting each month for the magazine to be delivered and searching for articles she might have written. Back then there was not the ability to get blog posts directly from the sea.

I hope you are able to ink a deal with a publisher, record or not, so you can share your adventure in minute by minute detail. I have enjoyed reading through your blog posts, but I would enjoy being able to see your journey through your, unweary, eyes.

Enjoy Granada, avoid the Grenadines (you'll not want to leave), and safe passage through the canal.


April 23, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

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