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.




Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all so amazingly awesome!
That's all I can say.

You are one incredible young man Zac.

UK friend

June 16, 2009 at 1:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac and Brett:
I am looking so forward to reliving this adventure thru your work. You know we sit here reading what Zac and his parents and supports write, and I am beginning to realize in know way does just reading blogs even really get close to describing in depth what Zac is really going through. I base my thoughts on the very brief clips of Zac, the fatigue, anger and sometimes terror on his young fact, while faced with making his next (what could be a life threating decision). I can only imagine how it must feel to be out on a forign body of water in the middle of the night in pitch backness. Needless to say I can't wait to view the film. Thanks guys for all of your many hours of hard work. - J.

June 16, 2009 at 1:52 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Hi Zac,
Quite the exciting storm there. Was happy to hear you got through it OK and maybe even made a little head way!

I'm keeping you in prayer as you near home....not only to arrive safe and sound but for God's guidence for the next steps in your life journey. You'll have many important decisions to make...God will never steer you wrong. <><

Blessings Zac, you're a fine young man.
Hugs to you
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV Wombat

June 16, 2009 at 3:09 AM  
Anonymous Scott Kuhner said...

It is Ironic that your stinky weather happens on your last leg. You have certainly learned the first rule of sailing, "When in doubt, reduce sail". Kitty and I hit the worst weather of our circumnavigation in our 30 ft Seawind Ketch on our last leg, 500 miles from home. Keep up the good work. You will be home before you know it.

June 16, 2009 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

@ Melanie,

I wanted to say thank you for mentioning all the blog individuals that inspired you. Sometimes people see things that they acknowledge in other people and never look at themselves.

You had a very hard year and I don't know everything you're going through right now. One thing that I do know is your an inspiration to me and many others here. When you spend time here writing and actually inspire me with just your words it really amazes me.

I hope and pray that when Zac returns your life will get better and things will fall into place. I sometimes think? How would I react if I lost my job? How would I react if I had cancer? Would I even be here daily writing on this blog? Melanie, thank you so much for your kind words. I don't know you personally but I'll keep you in my prayers.

Thank you for being such an inspiration in my life. You're truly amazing Melanie. I see that smile!!!

Daily Prayers,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 16, 2009 at 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Wow really don't get a break do you!
As I'm reading about the storm, I'm thinking how its going to be watching your DVD with my family and friends..saying "oh yea i remember this blog...and knowing whats going to happen next..then i start reading the part where the producers of your DVD write..i stop about half way and call my husband in the room ..i start reading out loud with tears running down my face... to hear it from someone who has watch those tapes and has seen what your life has been like this past year.
I have watched all of the vido on your site and when i see and hear the fear in you voice it just breaks my heart to think how lonley your were at times.
What you have done is just so so amazing Zac..i know you hear this all the time but you really have touch so many people and change so many of us in ways you'll never know.
I feel so lucky to have spent the last 12 months watching you make history.
I may not be one of the best writers on your blog but i can tell you this for sure, im am one of your biggest fans!
See you in a few weeks!

June 16, 2009 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

I'm glad you got through that squall without any problems. You sound like a profession sailor Zac. Hear the alarm, see what's coming, react, and reduce those sails. The most ironic thing now is you're on a calm ocean. If you told this story with people sitting in your cockpit and told them what happened a few hours ago no one would believe you. Another Day in a Sailors Life.

@ Brett from Praxis Universal. I wanted to thank you for all your efforts putting these DVD's together. I would almost prefer a four DVD set and get the complete story or should I say maybe 50 percent of the story. I know the hard decisions you'll all have to make regarding what video footage stays and what will be cut. I'm sure these decisions will make Zac pull out every hair on his head. No need for Bill Mann here. It will be especially difficult since Zac went through it all and I'm sure he would like to keep most of the footage on DVD.

I know this project will have plenty of laughs in the video bay and also plenty of turmoil. I wish you all plenty of wisdom and understanding. I would not want to be the person sitting in the editors hot seat. Are you guys using AVID?

Sail On Zac,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 16, 2009 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Hey Zac,

Well, I sort of envy those folks from Praxis Universal, as they get to watch all of the footage from your year+ long journey. However, I suppose what we don't can't hurt us. I'm sure if I was your Mom, I'd be keeping Clairol loving care in business all by myself!

I'm just praying now that if hurricane 'A' shows up, it will be behind you, giving you just enough wind to push you toward Marina del Rey.

I hope you get some rest and time to munch.


June 16, 2009 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger MindWalker said...

I'm not waiting any longer. Prepping car for trip to MDR. Have to witness Zac's return for myself, even if I have to sleep in the car.

June 16, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger davejb851 said...

So many times sitting here with the light of the internet from my computer monitor, I had thoughts about days sailing on calm seas, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, with Beach Boys music playing in the background.
Yet deep inside I knew the open ocean isn't really that way. 20+ foot swells, tropical storm force winds, and temps in the bone chilling ranges.
Now couple that with rogue waves, equipment failure, being alone for weeks, cold food, sleeplessness, and all the other constant distractions and dangers.
It's been quite a year.....and that's from where I sit.
Goodness Zac, you continue to impress and baffle me daily. How much you've grown, how much you've gained. Keep the head down these last few weeks, eye focused on the result, and what awaits you.
Go towards home young man!

June 16, 2009 at 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Living here in Oklahoma I actually can relate to your experience of heavy squall (here it would be thunderstorm) and then a few short hours later, sunny beautiful skies... Weather and nature can feel very surreal at times – how exponentially you have felt that in your around-the-world journey! I’ll echo the sentiments of many others on here, I have this mixture of excitement that you are near home and that we have the DVDs & hopefully book to look forward to, but I will dearly miss your Zac Pac community. This is the only blog I follow, only one I’ve ever followed, and I’m so glad I followed through on my curiosity to learn more about your adventure after chancing to hear you & your Mom on NPR over a year ago… It’s been an absolute joy reading your accounts and those of your Mom & Dad and other support team, and then the funny, thoughtful, informative comments of so many that gather here daily from all over. Thanks to everyone! Will miss meeting many of you at the homecoming… Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

June 16, 2009 at 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac is just one awesome young man, that's all I can say right now.

From a production and manufacturing standpoint I am just wondering if it would be more cost efficient to use a "dvd 18" format versus 2 dvd 9's? Not sure where you are duplicating it but just thought I'd throw that out there.
Nancy from West Hills, CA

June 16, 2009 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Marie said...

As I sit here with my morning cup of tea and catching up on Zac, I realize that every comment posted here so far today echo my thoughts... Thank you all. What a special group of people!

Blessings -
WA St.

June 16, 2009 at 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac and the rest of the Zac Pack. I have not posted but I do check in 3 times a day to see what is going on with our main man Zac at sea. What an adventure this has been. And what an inspiration. Zac as a way to give back, I am sending some of my bands tunes to Brett at Praxis. One song in particular I think will work well as it has the words "In love" that being the ocean and "Alone". That says it all for you as I know those are the emotions that you go between. Being so in love with the Ocean, Adventure, Sailing, Travel etc. But yet at the same time being alone. Luckily you have had a lot to occupy your time at sea. And certainly have had some hair raising times out there. I can't wait to see the DVD's it will be amazing. Listen for our song. I think Brett will like one of them for sure. I will see you when you get back my friend. It will be a party for sure.
Chris Carnaghi
Alhambra, CA

June 16, 2009 at 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

I thought to mention the song "Sailing" from Piet Veerman. I think it fit's perfectly. But on the other hand I know the licenese fees too well

June 16, 2009 at 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I just read your story on Keep up the good work man, that is awesome!

Jason from Cincinnati

June 16, 2009 at 6:05 PM  
Blogger K.P. said...

Congratulations Zac on your monumentous achievement! You are on the home stretch!!! I hope that you will keep us (the world) posted on your post-sailing adventures on dry land. You are an inspiration. Best of luck to you.

Sacramento, CA

June 16, 2009 at 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

@ Zac - Well I was wondering when you were gonna hit some of that weather I've been watching on the map. Each day and night as I watch the local weather report, I'm watching the Baja coast.

Please remain vigilant and alert. You're almost home, friend. I cannot wait to see you sail into the bay and into the arms of your family and to hear the welcome cheer from all of your new-found friends!

@ Doug P. and Marie- Thank you so much for your heartfelt words and thoughtfulness! It is greatly appreciated.

@ Mimi and Desi - Loved your poem. I envy your writing abilities! Thanks for the most excellent contribution.

@ Everyone- The excitement is building and it's almost palpable!

Go, Zac, Go!

June 16, 2009 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...


What an incredible journey, although it seems rather self-evident and useless for ME to tell that to YOU. Still, I just learned about you yesterday when a friend send the ESPN Magazine article about you my way because I love traveling and reading about other people's travels and writing about my own, but I'm blown away by your fortitude. I'll be going through and reading the parts of your blog I haven't read yet in the coming days for sure.

By the way, a good book that you might be interested in if you haven't yet read it is "Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea" by Steven Callahan. But it's probably best not to think about the book or its title until after you're back home. :-)

June 16, 2009 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

Hi, There is a storm forming west of Zac. I hope that it goes away from him like most of them do this time of year. Here is a link to the recorded tracks of tropical storms that have happened in his area over the past years.


June 16, 2009 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger Cenk Esener said...

Congratulations Zac !
Just keep us posted about your incredible journey.

All the best from Istanbul /Turkey...


June 17, 2009 at 1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like that annoying storm is back. Was lingering around further out before then vanished. Now back with a vengance :-(

Guessing Zac can pull into Acapulco or Puerto Vallarta if necessary. Storm shows its 300+ and 500+ miles away from those two places (run the mouse over the city names in that map to show the distances from the eye of the storm).

Can now see exactly why Laurence was so upset all the way back on St Helena. If we could have shaved 2 weeks off of staying on St Helena, Zac would already be back safe and sound in Marina Del Ray today.

June 17, 2009 at 6:24 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Hmmm, just checked the weather again - that low pressure is getting more organized. Could be Zac is headed in to port for a day to see which way it goes?

June 17, 2009 at 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

@ anonymous - thanks for the StormPulse link. We definitely don't like the looks of this storm.

It is fortuante that Zac is close (I think?) that Zac is hugging the coast in the event he needs to find safe harbor for a night.

Praying that he stays ahead of the storm. We're definitely not out of the clear yet. This one might be a nail-biter right up to the finish.

June 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Marie said...

We are on our knees, Zac!

Prayers for your safety, and peace for your family!

Blessings -

June 17, 2009 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Sylvia said...

I see you ave sailed into the Manzanillo, Mexico harbor. Hope you are safe from the storm in the Pacific. Homecoming can wait for a safe return.

Sylvia in Cherry Valley, CA

June 17, 2009 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Mindy said...

Hi Zac,

Hope you are doing well and safe at sea enjoying the Mexican Sunsets, now that the weather has cleared and you have your sailboat repaired. I can tell you from the shores of the Riviera Nayarit, just north of Nuervo Vallerta and Paradise Village, it is paradise.

My family and I just returned from our week long vacation there. One night at dinner, looking out at the ocean for the cruise ships, we saw a sailboat. My Dad and I commented on how could anyone be sailing a sailboat in the ocean with the wind and such choppy seas! My son AJ, who just graduated from Westlake High School, said "maybe that's the kid from Thousand Oaks". "Yeah, sure" we all agreed! But just like the NBA, It's Amazing, as it was you, the kid from Thousand Oaks! Of all the coastlines, shores and all of the seas in the world, we saw you off the shore at dinner that night!

We wish you good luck for a safe trip that is filled with many beautiful sunrises and sunsets until you return safely home to our shores of California.

The Dorfman's, The Luchs', N. Snyder and H. Brooks

June 26, 2009 at 11:01 AM  

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