Monday, June 29, 2009

No News is Good News

Position: 06/29/09 22 56.477N 110 41.402W

Still making good progress up the coast here with a gentle southerly wind behind me. I don't know how long this will last but I am making as much progress as I can before the north westerlies kick in and I have to start tacking again. We're weighing the options of heading offshore again or staying nearshore with it's diurnal sea breezes.

Have been studying the sea floor around here. It is really crazy with tons of groups of shallows which would make the seas really steep if the usual north westerlies were blowing.

There really is not much to write about now which is a good thing for me. It means everything is working and going well which is a welcome change!

Looks like on this present track that I will be back around July 14th. Details are still being worked out but it will for sure be in Marina del Rey! More news to come. Speaking of news....sign up for my Newsletter for the latest updates on the return and afterwards. There is a red link in the margin of the blog and web site.

Gotta get back to it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Change in the Weather + Work Photos

Position: 06/28/09 22 18.749N 108 53.079W

So far I have been having an amazingly smooth crossing to Baja. There is a low pressure area south west of Baja that is disrupting the usual northwesterly flow and giving me a nice 10 knots out of the southwest. Right now I am passing the tip of Baja California, Cabo san Lucas, and by the morning I should be heading northward up the coast.

Other than the good wind, there have been a few fishing boats that I have passed within a mile or so but have not answered their VHF radios. There has been good visibility which makes it easy to dodge them easily.

Not much else going on out here. Last time I was crossing the Sea of Cortez about 7 years ago my dad turned off the engine for awhile to rest our ears and he and I jumped in the sea to swim with some dolphins that had been following us. It was like diving into the tank at Sea World.

Gotta go check my way points around this point. There are currents and sea mounts in the area. I have a few other memories of this area as well that are not so pleasant.


Bulk head before work was started. Not visable in the photo is the top portion that had collapsed and also the bottom portion that had become totally delaminated. The dark portion of the wood is the area of water damage. This damage could have been avoided if the stanchion above decks was placed either 6 inches forward or aft instead of right over the bulk head allowing water to come into the vessel when the bedding gave way.

This is the remnant of the old bulk head. The lower half, not usually visible without cutting access, had completely delaminated and I pulled it out by hand.

The new bulk head consisted of two 5/8 ABX pieces of plywood. Not the best in the world but all I could purchase. It was approximately 1/4 inch thicker than the old bulk head. They were laminated together with with epoxy and fastened together using the chain plate and s/s screws. Then it was tabbed into the hull with polyester resin and a combination of fiber glass material to give adequate strength.

A view from the head showing the chain plate and some of the tabbing. Please note that I told Zac we would only be dealing with structural defects and that no cosmetic work would be done until he returns to the US .

Thank you for your kind comments and emails. It makes doing this kind of thing all the more tolerable when one has their own cheer leading section!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Damage Report from Laurence

Position: 06/27/09 1551Z 21 34.554N 107 48.302W

To say that Zac saved the best for last with his latest stopover would be an understatement. Though I had a busy week planned here in California, all had to be put on hold while I flew out to take care of Zac's latest business. I was concerned that the latest situation would be catastrophic and that the repair would be lengthy. I was also concerned that the problem could have damaged the mast as the the chain plates that support the rigging on the port side of the vessel were attached to the damaged bulkhead.

Personal life was a bit hectic at the time. We had just moved back into the house after spending the past week and a half at a nearby hotel having been displaced by a water leak in the attic. My car had broken down and my dear step mother and niece had just arrived for a visit from the UK. It really made for quite a colorful time. We took the challenges in our stride with much prayer. However, I was not ready for the news of Intrepid's cracked bulkhead, as this also coincided with a rather nasty tropical depression that would later be upgraded to a Catagory One Hurricane. Both of these things had Zac heading for Paradise village for a safe harbor and repairs.

Laura, my step mother, who has always had a passion for boating, joined me as she would be back in the UK by the time Zac returned to the USA. I had tried to envisage how I would go about the repair rather hoping for a simple solution that wouldn't delay Zac any longer than necessary. Any way that I looked at it, I knew it would be complicated and demand a great deal of time and concentration. This was not going to be an easy task. On top of this, ABC news were going to be filming Zac and conducting interviews along with Pete and Al from the LA times, and of course our faithful Jen. If there was a time that I didn't need any media distractions, this would have been it. However, all were respectful of my space and what I needed to focus on and we all worked well together.

Zac arrived on a turbulent ocean with reefed sails. He navigated the small entrance to the harbor with his usual diligence. A wave picked Intrepid up like a toy as she surfed into the safety of Paradise Village with a rather proud father looking on.

Zac was tired and in need of some serious R & R. Our timing was perfect. We had just arrived from the airport, parked the car, walked out to the breakwater and there was Intrepid on the horizon. We spent the rest of that evening securing accommodations, evaluating the damage, figuring out where to get supplies to undertake the task at hand, and meeting the good folks of the Paradise Yacht Club who kindly treated us to a much appreciated meal.

The following day we launched into repairs. It didn't take long to realize that I would need to remove the complete bulkhead. I set about removing the headliner, cabinets, and cutting into interior molded glass. As soon as the marine stores were open, I left to pick up supplies. This is always a more colorful task than it might seem. It involved going to 4 different stores, having some very confusing conversations in my Spanglish and yes, I will confess, I was pulled over by the @#^&*(^%~ PV police department for some of my not so famous driving maneuvers. This all took 4 hours of valuable time.

Back at the marina, there was quite a hive of activity. With Hurricane Andre pending, extra lines were in order and preparations were made in anticipation of the storm's possible arrival that afternoon. I was in the thick of it with the rain above decks; white overalls on to minimize fiber glass exposure and intense heat. I was wet through with sweat the whole time whilst working on Intrepid which combined with fiberglass dust was not a good combination. The discomfort level was off the scale.

I worked through to about 11:00 pm and was back at it the following morning at 7:00 am. Tools I couldn't bring on the plane I borrowed from neighboring yachts. Zac had his list of work that he conducted and also handled his interviews with ABC and the LA Times with great patience and courtesy. Pete and Al, from the LA Times, have followed Zac since his departure last June and are both great folks. We enjoyed their company.

The hurricane was due to hit us around 11:00 pm on Tuesday. I was working late that night and was glad to learn that instead it skirted Carbo Corrientes, 20 miles away. It headed west out to sea then hit cool water and dissipated to a tropical storm. As work continued on Intrepid, I was growing more confident that we could get Zac back out on the ocean soon and minimize his delay. I made a template for the new bulkhead and after cutting and fitting the wood I fiberglassed it in with the help of Rick, who I knew from the US. His help was much appreciated. The repair was strong and I was relieved to have completed one of the more challenging tasks on Intrepid to date.

Mike from PV Sailing helped us with other tasks at hand which included a tear in the Genoa, the track pulling away from the mast, and tuning the rig. Zac undertook the oil change, replacing the water pump, and belts. Once the hurricane had headed west the weather was very nice though still hoooooot and huuuummmiiid. What an added bonus it was that we had been to this beautiful place in 2000 and remembered the dock master and his wife who were so helpful then. Mike from PV Sailing had also repaired our sail back in 2000. It was good to see some old friends.

The repairs were completed and the weather abated. The conditions were right for Zac to head out to sea. As he headed out of the marina, he was followed by us in the panga and the ABC crew in a rather spectacular tender from Gladiator, a 130 ft Bennetti. Sam, the engineer gave a healthy hoot from Gladiator's horn which was very appropriate.

Zac left Pardise Village and headed to La Cruz to pick up the genoa from Mike and have the rig tuned. We said our good byes. Mike gave Zac some of the latest weather info and then he was off. We stayed with Mike and his family a while and shared in some refreshing ales. Then we headed to Punta de Mita , a beautiful spot, where we had spent six weeks in 2000 waiting for a part for our yacht before heading further south. It was interesting to be back here after such a long time. We had a meal at one of the palapas that overlook the ocean. Laura, Jen, Pete, Al and I watched the tiny sail in the distance as Zac made his way out of the huge bay between the the Tres Mariettas and out into the Sea Of Cortez. The sun was setting and all looked well. We toasted to Zac as he continues his journey home

Friday, June 26, 2009

Homeward Bound

Position: 06/26/09 1800Z 21 03.350N 106 49.920W

There was no way I was going to be able to get anywhere with a broken bulkhead so I changed course for Banderas Bay which was about 115 miles east of my current position. One hundred fifteen miles with a broken bulkhead went pretty fast running down wind with about 25 knots behind me.

As I neared the bay visibility went down to about 2 miles and the wind filled as I reached the entrance to Paradise Village Marina. I was reefed pretty heavily. My engine was not running at the time and the sea was too crazy to raft up to the panga that was waiting to tow me in. I sailed through the breakwater and once inside the harbor I tied up to the panga and they towed me into a slip.

When I arrived my dad, Jen and my grandmother from England were there on the dock. My dad took a look at the bulkhead and made a plan for breaking it up the following day. Then we met up with Dick, the dock master, and I got cleared in. After a good night's sleep at the hotel we went to work. I replaced the raw water pump on the engine and did some laundry while my dad went to the marina store and got all of the supplies we needed to fix up the bulkhead.

Hurricane Andre moved up the coast and the day was squally and rainy with the spin off cells. Everyone in the marina was adding extra dock lines in case Andre made his way into the harbor. We added extra docking lines to prep Intrepid as well. The whole place was buzzing with speculation on what would happen. I didn't get much of a chance to see Paradise Village but what I did see I could easily remember from my days here as a kid. They still have the small zoo of rescue animals. The mother tiger that had the 4 cubs is gone and her cubs are grown. The monkey is gone. The marina is much the same but they have built a yacht club for the sailors.

Also, the ABC crew and Al and Pete from the LA Times showed up in the afternoon to get their stories. Dad worked late into the night and by about 10:00pm had decided to remove the whole bulkhead and replace it. The next day we spent the day being filmed doing the most obnoxious job of removing the bulkhead and troubleshooting the rig. It is a good thing those cameras don't have scent recording!

The next day was more cameras and Andre had tracked out to sea and dissipated. Dad finished glassing in the new bulkhead as I pulled off the sails and fixed the track on the mast with Mike from PV Sailing. He took the genny back to his sail loft to sew a patch and repair a split seam.

The next day I was ready to leave. There were lots of small jobs to finish up. A diver cleaned the bottom of the boat. The engine oil and belts needed to be changed. We cleaned up all of the fiberglass and work materials off of the boat and dock and I was off followed by the news crews. I sailed 7 miles to La Cruz and picked up my newly patched genny from Mike's sail loft. He tuned the rig and we took a look at some weather forecasts on his computer. I said my good byes to everyone and was off. It was an interesting position to be in as the last time I sailed between the Tres Marieta Islands and Punta de Mita on the northern tip of Banderas Bay I was 10 years old and my sole responsibility was setting and keeping an eye on the little storm sail on my parents' boat. Now, it was just me with Intrepid and the sea.

Last night I passed the prison islands called the Tres Marias and now I am tacking my way towards Baja. Intrepid feels strong and ready for the ride. I am so grateful to my dad who was an absolute hero on the stop.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arrival Photos a la Jen

More fabulous photos from Jen Edney!

Laurence with Intrepid making her way in

You don't see this every day!!!

A rather tired looking boy with a rather tired looking boat

A kiss from grandma out from the UK!

Check out Jen's web site for more great photos at
and her blog at

Busy day for the ground crew in PV today. Everybody busy running. Laurence has a handle on the repairs but it is a BIG job. Imagine grinding fiberglass in 90 degrees with 90% humidity. Not a pretty sight!

More soon....

Monday, June 22, 2009

In Paradise - Village

Good News!
Zac arrived safely in Nueva Vallarta this afternoon. He had secured the area around the cracked bulkhead well and with calmer winds and seas, he was actually able to have a decent night's sleep despite the shipping and concern over his rig.

As it turns out, Zac would probably have had to pull in to port anyway due to Tropical Storm Andres that has stubbornly persisted in traveling north up the coast. All being perfect, Zac hopes to catch the tail end of the system with it's favorable wind direction to push him north some before the customary northwesterlies fill in again.

Although Zac was more than a little disappointed at the setback, he was pretty happy when he learned that the only available slip was in Paradise Village Marina. We stayed there on our boat Amazing Grace years ago when we cruised the area as a family. Zac was about ten. We had just crossed the Sea of Cortez towards the coast of mainland Mexico. After a few days sweltering in the humidity and a Red Tide condition that left rotting, smelling fish all around the boat, we pulled into Paradise Village Marina and their 5 swimming pools, laundry mat, Internet cafe and grocery store. Paradise on earth it was! Laurence was doing some rigging and had the bosun's chair rigged to the mast to pull him up the mast. He was offering to pull the kids up but none of them got past the first spreaders out of fear of the height. Laurence, obviously looking for a laugh, offered me $100 to go to the top of the mast. I immediately thought of the local shopping and realized that there was nothing at all that I wanted to buy (this was before seeing the batik sarongs for sale). $200. "No". "I'll go Dad." said Zac. Hmmmmm... "OK"

Zac made it to the top of the mast and back down again with out a word. $200 in hand Zac, always the savvy consumer, approached a nearby cruising boat that was selling an electric scooter that could not fit aboard the boat. He purchased it and set about wowing all of the cruising kids for the next week. And you can be sure that Laurence never let him forget what you can do if you have the right attitude!

Sorry to go on and on. I really love that story. :) I'm going to get lots of emails now telling me how I need attention and that I need to get a life!

They don't know that I have the best life in the world.

I'm sure we will get the inside story from Zac as soon as we can find a reliable Internet or phone connection.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beating, Bashing & Breaking Bulkheads

Position: 06/21/09 1450Z 19 13.304N 107 00.674W

This morning I tacked over to a port tack to make some northing after a dismal night bearing south no matter how hard I pushed northwards. The wind built during the day and by 10am I was slamming in to 25 knots and 8-10 foot sharp seas. This went on for awhile slamming along burying a gunwal with a reefed main and a triple reef in the genoa making about 4 knots into the current.

I was reading a book wedged in my bunk when I hit a huge wave and Intrepid launched out of the water. When we came down I heard a bang like a gun going off. Looking I saw that the deck was flexing about 3 inches up where the shrouds are attached to the deck at the chain plates. I went into the head and saw that the inch thick teak bulkhead that my portside chain plates are tapped into had cracked.

I quickly put away the genny to take the pressure off of the mast and braced it by running a spinnaker halyard and the topping lift down to the rail for support. With this damage the mast wouldn't be able to take the strain of beating in these conditions so I altered course more downwind and now I'm headed for Banderas Bay where I will repair the bulkhead and get back out to sea s soon as possible

I haven't slept much in the last couple days and I need to stay awake tonight to see how the mast is taking the strain. Hopefully, it will all go well.

Thanks for all of the questions you all sent. I'll have to answer them later.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beating and Bashing

Position: 06/20/09 at 1500Z 19 26.550N 105 44.759W

Heading out of Barra de Navidad, I had to dodge my way through some coastal shallows before hitting the open sea. The night was pretty stormy with the last bits of the low pressure system passing over. The wind was pretty confused with the southerly winds from the storm dying out and the normal north westerly filling back in.

By the morning I had the full force of the NWwinds on the nose to where I wanted to go so I have been sailing on a westerly tack with the wind 30 degrees off the starboard bow and slowly beating into 15-20 knots with sharp seas. Right now I've got 3 ships around me, one about 2 miles off that the AIS shows I am on a collision course with. I'll have to keep an eye on them for a while tonight.

Before I do, I wanted to answer a question about what the sky is like out at sea from Thor. Most of the time it is super clear and there are a lot of shooting stars but when there is heavy cloud cover like last night and tonight, it is pitch black. A full moon out at sea on a clear night is an amazing thing. I have not seen much in the way of trash in the oceans. The most trash I have seen was right off the coast of Los Angeles. I was on the lookout for the so called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vortex of garbage the size of Texas, that was reported to be nearly on my course across the Pacific last year, but never saw anything.

This would be a good time for you to ask me more questions. I'll do my best to answer as many of them as I can. Keeps my mind busy with something interesting during the days.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Barra de Navidad

Position: 06/19/09 9:00pm PDT 19 11.890N 104 56.715W

The last few days in Barra de Navidad have been a nice break from beating up the coast but was still really busy. Yesterday I cleaned up the boat, cleared in to the marina, and caught a panga into town in search of some fresh food and an Internet cafe. On the way to the first Internet cafe I came across a magazine shop and went in looking for a copy of ESPN Magazine as I haven't actually seen a copy yet. Unfortunately, I was only able to find the Spanish/Mexican version. Oh well, I'll have to wait to see it when I get back in a few weeks.

After milling through the mostly empty town, I went back to the mostly empty marina. It is pretty weird seeing a tourist town in the off season - something like a ghost town. And being there alone was...surreal.

I spent more time restowing things after bashing around at sea for days and finished up a few more jobs on the boat. Looking at the weather, I didn't expect to be able to pull out until tomorrow so I had planned to get a hair cut and get some laundry done. When I checked in this morning for a weather update I learned that the system that I had 'hidden' from was dissipating and some light southerlies were mine for the taking if I could check out quickly.

I went through the process of checking out of the marina and some provisioning for the next leg. I stumbled upon a street taco stand with the most incredible tacos. I completely gorged myself on the .50 wonders.

Jobs done, I fired up the engine to head out of the harbor only to hear the over heat alarm sounding after a few minutes. It turned out to be a faulty belt on the impeller. So 2 hours and a few bloody knuckles later I was ready to go again. I made my way to the fuel dock to top off my tanks. After a few hassles with the credit card company, who cannot seem to understand that I am traveling the world and stopping in different locations from time to time (even though we have been on the phone with them explaining this ad nauseum) I head out of the mangrove strewn mouth of the harbor and into the black squally night.

Speaking of black squalls, I see one bearing down on me now as well as a ship.

Gotta run!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tropical Depression One E

Tropical Depression One-E predicted to make land fall in Matazlan. Thanks to David Morris for keeping Zac out of the eye of the storm!

More news later!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finding a Hurricane Whole

From Puerto de la Navidad Marina, Barra de Navidad, Mexico

Last night when I called in to get the latest weather report my mom told that the weather system that was 150 miles from me was likely to build into a tropical storm or hurricane and was predicted to track across my path. Most hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific veer WNW but this one was forecasted by three weather models to veer WNW and then NNE towards Cabo san Lucas or more likely Puerta Vallerta. If this came to pass, the system would pass right acriss my route.

There is another system forming down south in the area of the Gulf of Tehuantepec near Huatulco. This one is predicted to barrel up the coast as far as Manzanillo. So, with 2 possible hurricanes bearing down on me, I had to make a move to get out of their path. Since last night the system right behind me was predicted to hit land around Puerta Vallerta, my only option was to back track 120 miles to a port I had passed 100 miles out to seathe day before.

I set my course and began to make the trek back over my hard earned miles. The wind built through the night and by morning I had 30 knots with many big squalls - offshoots of the storm behind me.

About 30 miles out of Manzanillo I called my friend and avid sailor, Brett Thompson (also part of Praxis Universal). I knew he had done tons of sailing up and down this coast. He suggested the bay of Barra de Navidad about 18 miles north of Manzanillo. There were several reasons for this. First, Manzanillo is a busy industrial port. Second, he felt that Barra was a better hurricane whole. Lastly, it was about 5 miles closer so that I would reach the harbor while it was still daylight. It sounded like a good plan so I altered course slightly and slammed along the last 25 mile stretch - making 7 knots under double reefed main and reefed genoa.

As I neared the entrance I had about an hour of sunlight left yet the horizon was black with squalls. I sailed as fast as I could towards the entrance but about a mile off of the point I was slammed by a 40 knot squall. It swallowed up the land and I had zero visibility. The squall passed quickly and I got my visibility back. I made my way toward the little harbor entrance with 8' sharp swells on the beam, knocking Intrepid.

A second squall hit and again I lost sight of anything around me. Coming out of the squall I could see the buoy lights that marked the harbor entrance. I started up the engine and weaved my way thought the shallow entrance to the bay and pulled in to this amazing marina.

Now I've just got to chill here and wait for these storms to pass over.

I'm off to search for a shower and some good food.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Note from Praxis Universal

Hi Zac Pac!

To clarify, we are looking for ORIGINAL music - which means it must be entirely your creation - like if you're a composer or are in a band. Or, if you know a band, say, and ask them if they'd like to participate, that would work as well. Working directly with "big" companies like major record labels is a huge headache - not only expensive, but they seem to work on Geological Time.

To all of the responses so far: You guys ROCK! Thanks, and keep them coming!


If you have any questions or submissions, email

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Calm After the Storm

Position: 06/15/09 at 1525Z 17 01.419N 103 37.779W

Still making slow steady progress up the Mexican coast with light winds forecasted for the next 24 hours. This morning I was woken up early by my radar alarm showing a squall 4 miles away. I haven't had a squall in a couple of days and I thought it would probably be low in intensity.

The squall swooped down on Intrepid fast and the wind went from 10 knots to 40 in a few minutes. I furled up the genoa and put two reefs in the main. The winds built into the mid and upper 40s so I put the main away and unfurled the storm jib, an extremely strong and small sail. Even with the small sail I was going 6 knots running downwind and still on course.

The patch of heavy squalls lasted a little over an hour before dropping down to the 25-30 knot range. I raised the main with 2 reefs in it and called home to make sure what I had gone through wasn't an offshoot of a tropical depression forming out there. My mom had received word from David Morris, the meteorologist who has been routing me and keeping an eye on my weather around the world. He said that there was a system building quickly and quite close to me and I would likely be hitting heavy wind, lightning and possibly even some water spouts.

Not being sure whether I had just been through this system David was talking about I kept my eyes on the horizon for quite a while looking for more black squall clouds or flashes of lightning. Thankfully, nothing else came.

The wind dropped back down to the 10 knot range and the sun broke through the black squall clouds. By midday you would never believe the weather of a couple of hours ago. The weather has been calm and clear ever since then. Just another day spent making progress towards California.


Hi all, my name is Brett and I am one of the producers at Praxis Universal ( We’re the guys putting together “Intrepid: The Zac Sunderland Story” DVD’s. As you can imagine, this is a gigantic project. Along with Zac’s many chores he has recorded hundreds of hours documenting his travels and travails. As film producers, this is like opening up a treasure trove, though a difficult and complex one (Zac, when you read this, set your time codes, buddy!). We sit in our studio searching through Zac’s life at sea. We have watched Zac go from this 16 year old kid who nervously set sail to do something no one else has done, and step by step we are watching him grow into the capable and confident person we admire. We are viewing Zac’s life and his life and death struggles unfold in front of our eyes, and let me tell you, there are life and death struggles. I hope that when you see this you’re going to really understand what an achievement this is. It’s almost impossible to describe Zac’s life this last year, but soon we will be able to share it with you.

As you all know Zacs saga is going to be told in 2 dvd- at this point. There is just so much wonderful story to tell that trying to encapsulate a year and trip around the world in one dvd would be impossible, frankly even getting it into 2 is difficult. Imagine the adventures Zac has had this last year; all the places he’s been, and the dangers he has faced, most of it documented. Unlike most projects of this nature our problem isn’t so much worrying if we have enough footage but more what parts do we leave out, and of course Zacs adventure hasn’t even ended yet.

As we enter the final stages of production, we would like to give the opportunity for any of you wishing to contribute original music for the DVD do so. This has been such a grassroots effort and we love to encourage that. We’ve set up a private email for this info at our website:

Thanks for being here. We'll be checking in from time to time with updates on how things are going.



365 Days!

Position: 06/14/09 as of 1500Z 16 33.844N 101 39.224W

Today marks two milestones. First of all, I am half way up the coast from Panama to Marina del Rey and second it has been one year since I left Marina del Rey for Hawaii on June 14th, 2008. It has been a crazy year: I've crossed 3 oceans and 5 seas, crossed the equator twice, and covered over 23,000 nautical miles. I have stopped in some of the most remote places in the world making great friends and experienced the fury and beauty of the open sea. It has been a year of amazing adventure which I hope to continue for the rest of my life because I love to live life on the edge and to the max every day.

Thank you for all the emails and comments wishing me a happy anniversary. You guys are awesome! Other than my little recap of the past year, the wind has been out of the south though inconsistent. Today, the wind has shifted from 30 degrees off the bow to just off the stern. I have been able to make relatively good progress doing a lot of sail adjustments to make the most of the changing wind angles.

I just looked up at my radar screen that I have split between radar and the data page that shows boat speed and wind speed, depth and miles to the next way point. The depth gauge usually has a line after it when I'm offshore as the depth is in the 1000s of feet and is too deep to get a sounding. It read 80 feet. This can happen when the bow is out of the water like when slamming through a wave or heeled over far enough. But the depth continued to stay at 80 feet and then to 70 feet.

I double checked my electronic charts and they didn't show anything that would explain the reading. I dropped the sails and fired up the engine so the boat wouldn't be heeled over (not that it really was enough to effect the wind gauge. I motored around in a big circle but the depth stayed steady 60-70 feet. I didn't want to leave the cockpit so I called my friend Mike Crawford from Praxis Universal to see if there was anything on his chart. After giving him my position he checked Maxsea, a very detailed chart program, but there was nothing on his chart either. I am back on course now sailing along at about 4.5 knots with 78 feet on the depth gauge. Either this is an uncharted sea mount or there is something wrong with my depth gauge.

If there is one thing I have learned on this trip it is that the ocean is full of unexpected things.

I'll let you know how it pans out.



Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Sweet Southerly

Position: 06/13/09 as of 1647Z 16 01.633N 99 47.120W

This morning the wind died off and shifted to the port bow. I sailed along slowly until midday when it built to about 15 knots and I was able to make 6.5 knots on course to my way point which is amazing for going up this part of the coast. At least it is for me!

The wind has held for most of the day. Other than having to dodge an occasional ship, it has been smooth sailing. Hopefully, the wind will hold steady tonight and I will be able to make some good miles toward my way point which lies below the Sea of Cortez.

We have been getting a lot of questions as to when I will be back in Marina del Rey. It is hard to say for sure because there are so many variables. Right now, all being well, I should be back the last week in June or the first week in July. Details will come as they are known. If you aren't close enough to come out for the big day, we will have video footage of the day on my site either live (still working on it) or in a few days. More info to come here as well.

Time to grab some sleep.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Working It

Position: 06/12/09 at 1500Z 15 28.337N 98 08.733W

If ever on this journey I've been doing the work of two men, it is these last days. All last night the winds were shifty which meant I was altering sails a bunch and didn't get much sleep. The wind just kept on shifting throughout the day. My track looks like a snake's path across the desert. I must have changed my sail arrangement 7 times today. My progress is pretty pathetic. I passed a couple of ships today. I must be in a shipping lane. I'm sailing as close hauled as I can, beating into the current and swells that run up along the decks all day and night.
I'm carefully working my way offshore to try and reach more consistent wind. If the weather turns nasty, I can duck into port in a few days.

On a happier note, there have been a few of you that have been asking about Jen. Jen Edney has been following Intrepid and me for the past year testing her wings at photojournalism. We last hooked up in Panama. She has updated her site recently. Check it out at She will be in town when I return and is expected in Cali next week.

Someone asked about how to order my book and DVD. I am working with several publishers at the moment on the details of my book which won't be out now until the spring. As many of you know, from the beginning one of my goals besides having the adventure of a lifetime has been to document my journey with film and to make a documentary upon my return. We have had some major hurdles to overcome in getting this done and now I am happy to say that part one is due to be released in July 2009. We are accepting preorders in my store. Links to the store are in the margins of my main site

Click here for a taste of what the DVD will be like:

Another question that has come to me is what you all will do when I finish my trip? I have spent a lot of time out here thinking about what is important and what I'd like to do with my life. I don't have all of the answers but I know this...without God in your life, you have nothing and I don't want to spend my life reading about what other people have done. I want to be the kind of person that people want to read about. I believe that my solo circumnavigation is just the beginning of many more adventures to come. Documenting them and telling others and hopefully inspiring others at the same time is what I want to do.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another Sleepless Night

Position: 06/11/09 1719Z 15 20.858N 97 04.512W

I managed to get everything sorted out in Huatulco and was out of the marina by about 1:00 in the afternoon. I weaved my way out of the tricky entrance by following my old track on the chart plotter. When I got out of the harbor I got slammed by 15 knots on the nose once again keeping me from where I wanted to go.

I tacked out to sea and picked out some way points to route me around the maze of sea mounts about 8 miles offshore. After a couple of hours of sailing along, my radar started to pick up a huge patch of squalls about 10 miles off of my bow. I went into the cockpit to take a look and the whole horizon was blackened by the approaching squalls and the lightning was lighting up the sky.

About half an hour later the squall hit with about 25 knots building to 35. I don't really care about the wind - it is just a matter of putting a reef or two in the sails. The part that is really dangerous is the lightning. If Intrepid got struck, all of the electronics would die. That would mean no radar or AIS to tell me when ships are coming too close and no chart plotter to easily route myself. It would have to be done with a hand held GPS with paper charts.

I started seeing the lighting strikes get closer and grabbed my spare, hand held GPSs and Sat Phones and put them in the microwave for protection. Somehow the microwave's insulation will save them if I get struck.

I had to hand steer through the storm that brought some short, sharp swells that if not taken right would have buried the bow nearly stopping Intrepid and give time for the 2-knot current on my nose to spin Intrepid around.

The squalls lasted about 3 hours. Three hours of watching lightning strike way too close to the boat. A friend of mine, Mike, who is a crazy sailor himself, had told me that lightning doesn't see the mast as a conductor unless it is 50 feet above the water. I did the mast is 45 feet from the deck and I don't know how high the deck is but it must be 4-5 feet off the water. I was right on the edge.

Luckily, I managed to get out unzapped, but as I made it to my first way point I found that the wind was now blowing 20 knots dead on my nose to where I wanted to be going. I tacked over and headed out to sea.

The current was ripping down the coast at about 2 knots and this was really killing my boat speed. I kept altering course and trying to get some kind of decent speed going but without much success. By now I was pretty well exhausted so I did some final sail trim just in time to see the sun rising marking another sleepless night.

I grabbed a couple hours of sleep and then called home to ask about the weather and wind. The forecast for shifting winds for the next few days. There are a few systems brewing in the Eastern Pacific this week. One is about 1000 miles south west of Baja California. It has a 50% or greater chance of becoming a tropical depression thought it does not appear to be as organized as was once thought. There is one model suggesting that a system may develop at around 13N 97W in about 3 days. This could be bad but hopefully it will just give me some wind from the right direction for a change!

Running on 2 hours sleep - gonna get a few more hours here before the sun sets.


@Anonymous: My wisdom teeth haven't bothered me again since I was off of Grenada!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beautiful Huatulco

Marina Chahue, Huatulco, Mexico

I got in to Huatulco around 8:00 this morning after a long night with little sleep. It was a bit of a tricky entrance with a bunch of rocks throughout the bay. It didn't help that my electronic charts were about 2 miles off. According to them, I'm sitting up in the mountains.

I got in and cleared in with Customs, Immigration, the Health Inspector and the Port Captain.
The Harbormaster, Enrique, has been great. He organized all of my paperwork and drove me around town. He has been instrumental in designing and planning the new Chahue Marina. Huatulco is a very beautiful spot with a jungle-like feel to it. It has one of the best surf breaks on the Mexican coast - Rip Curl had their big surf contest here last year. There are plans to make this area into a resort in the near future. It is kind of a sleepy town with little or no crime.

I got some great fresh food but have been having trouble with my credit card. After my mom spent a good part of the afternoon trying to explain that I am in Mexico and to authorize the charges - the account is now frozen! With no pesos on the boat I am stuck here until tomorrow when hopefully it will be sorted out.

It seems to be a good place to get a good night's rest before slamming my way up the rest of the coast. Since I was up all last night I'm going to crash early.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Hola Mexico!

Position at 1518Z 14 15.852N 95 57.768W

I am 40 miles off of Huatulco Mexico tonight and I'll be pulling in in the early hours of the morning to check into Mexico. It is better to be checked in to a country if I'm going to be sailing close to shore in case I do get boarded by the Navy. After Daveh's description I don't want any confusion about what I am doing.

I should be getting in around 6am. I'll check in and out and pick up some fresh provisions. I should be back out to sea early afternoon. Enrique at the Chahue Marina has offered to assist me which has been great.

Looks like another sleepless night out here. I've got to study up on the charts and keep a close eye out for all the typical coastal hazards. I still have to get all my paperwork in order as well. I just dumped my gun and all of my bullets over the side as Mexico has a zero tolerance policy on fire arms. If customs finds it they could seize my boat and throw me in jail which is not really worth the risk.

Got to go read up on the entrance and anchorage at Huatulco. I'll be in early and the northern way point that I have for the marina is on land!?!?


From Mom:
We received a prayer request today for two young men who may be lost at sea. They bought a small, older sail boat in Marina del Rey on a whim and planned to sail it up the coast to Santa Cruz. They have no experience with boating. The boat had one sail and a sketchy motor not thought to have been able to do much good. They planned to 'beach' the boat at night, stopping every night. They were last seen at Catalina Island on Thursday and have not been heard from since.

When I told Zac about it he could hardly believe that someone would attempt that coast line like that. He has seen a lot of his bad storms on that stretch of ocean. So if you are reading Zac's blog and feeling inspired, please know that a good day at sea is a breeze. Anyone can steer a boat. It is when there are troubles and contrary conditions that no amount of daring can replace experience and preparedness. And please pray for our Coast Guard - that they would find the guys before it is too late.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shifting Winds

Position: 06/07/09 1915Z 13 07.351N 95 45.723W

The wind is really shifty out here today, shifting 90 degrees either way and paying absolutely no attention to what the online Ugrib weather files are saying. With my wind vane steering Intrepid and changing course with every wind shift I have really had to be on my toes.

It looks like the first storm system of the year may be forming around 8N 121W. The National Hurricane Center gives it a 30-50% chance of it becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours. Ironically, there is a chance of a system forming on the Caribbean/Atlantic side of Central America that is actually closer to me than the Eastern Pacific system.

I have been debating whether or not to head towards the coast or to keep trying for offshore. The winds have been so incredibly frustrating. This afternoon the wind has decided to have me alter course towards mainland Mexico but I am still 150 miles off shore.

It could be awhile before I pick up any coastal winds in the area. So far the Gulf of Tehuantepec, known for its incredible storms, has been quiet.

Another hot day out here. Had a ship pass five miles off this morning.

I am hoping not to run into any Mexican Navy boats because they will most likely stop me to board the boat and check my paper work. It can be a huge time-consuming hassle.

In the time I have been writing this the wind has shifted yet again and I've gotta run check things out.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pacific Ocean: Chapter 2: Light & Fluky

Position: 06/06/09 1500Z 12 12.161N 94 38-715W

Another hot and frustrating day out here in the Pacific. Wind is fluky and light. I change from sailing towards my way point off shore and then the winds shifts and I am heading for Acapulco. I'm not sure what I prefer: light & fluky or squalls and ships. They have been like chapters of a book here in the Pacific. Did I mention how hot it is? It is so hot. If I had an egg, I am sure I could cook it on the deck!

I have had some distraction today with the many sea turtles that are bobby around out here. It is strange to see them just hanging out 200 miles off shore. Sometimes there will be a seagull or Booby Bird perched on top of the turtle as if it were a little island. I would be very interested to know where the turtles are going or do they just hang out out here?

I passed a container ship a few miles off today, the first in a few days. I must be out of the main shipping route to Panama now. It's just me and the big blue sea (and my friends the turtles).

Have been thinking a lot about the trip and the places I have been in the past year. It has been an incredible year for sure. It will be strange to not have an ocean to cross when I get back. What next I wonder?


Friday, June 5, 2009

Wishing for Wind

Position: 06/05/09 1500Z 11 25.627N 93 16.879W

Still making slow progress out here. Last night I was up around 2am tightening a preventer on the boom and I heard the sound of blow holes. Looking around I saw I was in another pod of dolphins. It has been pretty cool having them around the boat a couple of times a day. It must be their fishing grounds out here.

After some middle of the night sail trim I was woken up in the middle of the night by my radar alarm. The sun hadn't quite come up yet but the sky had the grey color that comes right before the sun rises. It still wasn't enough light to see what the yellow blip on the radar screen that triggered the alarm on the radar actually was. From the size of it I could tell it wasn't a container ship. More like a fishing boat. As I got closer I saw I was right. It was a smallish fishing trawler. As I got closer I hailed them on the VHF to ask if they were long lining.

If so, I would have had to steer far clear so I didn't get tangled in their lines. The captain didn't speak English and my foreign speak is not so bueno. All I was able to get out of our talk was that they were fishing for yellow tail and Mako sharks and that they were flagged out of Guatemala.

We passed a little less than a mile apart just as the sun was rising. I got a little more sleep but by 10am the sun was already unbearably hot. I tried to keep myself busy in the 100 degrees plus tropical heat. The water under Intrepid is in the 90s so although jumping in has crossed my mind - it would probably not be worth the risk.

I am just off the Gulf of Tehuantepec and I should start to see some wind increase from that in the next 70 miles. Wind always seems to be coming in a day or two. Who is designing these weather models? I am beginning to think it is a plot to mess with my head!

Gotta go do some sail trim before it gets too late.


Link to ESPN web site:

The article that Chris Jones wrote is excellent. The web site has a cool video taken in Grenada as well. As always, let them know you like them following Zac!

Another cool link:

For those of you who have not heard, Part One of Zac's documentary DVD is now available for pre purchase at his store.

It is well under way and should be available in 4-6 weeks.

Very exciting times for sure!

Marianne & Laurence

PS Any body making a trip out for Zac's return (now estimated at June 25th or 26th) who would like to hook up with other bloggers, contact Kodiak Mike at Let him know if you are interested in getting together. Once we get a head count, we will begin to organize hotels, meetings etc.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Marine Mammals and Mysteries

Position: 06/03/09 at 1526Z 10 38.983N 90 28.292W

The Papagayo winds have held up most of the day. As long as I can keep Intrepid moving at 3-4 knots I will stay on this course towards 13N 102W. The forecast is for the winds to lighten and shift around with ni signs of organized activity of any trouble.

Last night was pretty quiet. At one point I heard blow wholes all around the boat. It was kind of cool except that then I remembered a book I once read about a couple who sailed into a pod of beluga whales and were rammed and sunk. They survived - after a few months in their life raft. So much for the romance of marine mammals.

Earlier tonight, I was looking out and noticed a red flash on the horizon. It looked a little like red lightning. I checked my AIS radar and there was a ship called New Horizon about 8 miles out in the direction of the flash. There were several other explosions one after the other. I can not figure out what they were. They looked like an explosion with fire and a mushroom cloud afterwards. Very mysterious.

And I thought I had just about seen it all out here.


Note from Mom:

Pete Thomas from the LA Times hopped on some cool news early:

Pick up a copy of ESPN Magazine this weekend. The article is the best yet - and I should know, I'm his mom. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Papagayo Winds

Position: 06/02/09 1700Z 10 20.816N 87 43.012W
06/01/09 1500Z 09 31.713N 85 44.764W

First off, I want to thank Neil Kahn in Costa Rica for his awesome help and hospitality during my short stay there. Neil sailed as a kid in Florida and got into whitewater paddling which brought him to Costa Rica. He then got into sea kayaking and has a great business there in Herradura. Check out his web site and if you ever get to Costa Rica be sure to look him up!

I've been making some fast but mostly slow progress toward my next way point. For now, I have opted to head offshore. There have not been any signs of tropical depressions and the Gulf of Tehuantepec is calm for a few days. When I get to 95W we will reevaluate the weather conditions and decide whether to continue offshore in search of the trades or head north to the coast of Mexico.

The gap winds from the Gulf of Papagayo filled in nicely last night. For the first time in a while I was making my 7-8 knots today. The wind died down a few hours ago but is supposed to be filling in again sometime tonight.

Electrical storms have died down. I haven't seen a lightning strike all day. The shipping has also slowed down a bit so I am able to get a better night's sleep. Light and shifting winds are all part of sailing in this part of the Pacific at this time of year.

I've been tired lately with the lightning, shipping and fishing boats over the past few days. I'm glad to be further offshore tonight and able to grab some sleep.