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. :)


Blogger BritDee said...

Be safe, Zac. I am inspired by the way you can work so hard with so little sleep.
You've come so far, I hope you're proud!

June 3, 2009 at 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Thanks for the up date weird about the lights on the horizon.
savor these last few will miss your quiet days in no time.
Well I have said before that your a rook star but dude, how many rock stars make the cover of ESPN magazine?! Awesome awesome job once again.
Keep on keeping on!!

June 3, 2009 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Rory Gogan Singapore said...

da daa dat

June 4, 2009 at 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... shaggy haired sailor....that's so funny. Bill Mann is going to be smiling from ear to ear. Great write up.It will be quite some task to pick and chose carefully when all the requests come in. I am confident that you will cope with it, just as you have coped with the last year! Anyway, your mum can be your manager....haha!
Oh my hear blow whales and then think of a book you read a while ago about people being rammed and sunk by them..... enough to make you want to be on dry land! Yikessssssss.
Wonder what the explosions were...maybe a party!

Keep safe.
UK friend

June 4, 2009 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger Rory Gogan Singapore said...

About the mysterious fiery plume..When I sailed down there I saw something similar at about 25 degrees up from the horizon. ESE. Later I was told it was a volcanoe Concepcion and/or El Maderas.

June 4, 2009 at 1:32 AM  
Anonymous Will/East London S.A. said...

they sure had a hell of a party on that ship !

What about the mermaids? Did you see any lately?


June 4, 2009 at 2:22 AM  
Blogger STEVE B said...

Way to go Zac! It is great to see you to begin getting the kind of attention and recognition you deserve.

Your observations at sea deserve a little more investigation. Maybe a ship in distress without the ais turned on?



June 4, 2009 at 5:29 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

So now you made the cover of ESPN Magazine. Now that one is really cool. I'll run out this weekend and pick up my copy.

Hopefully the media coverage will pick up the closer you get to MDR. Enjoy the sailing and I hope you get some stronger winds. Let's clarify that. How about 20 knots worth, no more!!!

Sail On Zac,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 4, 2009 at 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Great update, Zac - very curious as to what those explosions/red flashes might have been? Also, wonder what kind of marine mammals you were surrounded by... How many amazing, unexpected encounters have you had in this past year? Incredible - thanks again for sharing it with us along the way...

Looking forward to picking up ESPN mag this weekend, and also looking forward to your getting more national attention for your amazing achievements! I so wish my family and I could be there in CA when you arrive, but we're just not going to be able to make it from OK :( The good news is we'll be taking a family trip to my husband's home country, something we haven't done with the kids yet (like your family going to Lawrence's England), so I suppose I have a good excuse for missing seeing your grand return in person. I hope that I'll be able to watch so much of it on national TV! Know that if you or your family is ever in Tulsa, OK, you have a host family here for you. Not that it's Costa Rica, but hey, ya never know!

Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

June 4, 2009 at 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

DVD part 1 whee hee..June 5th. it is!!

June 4, 2009 at 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice magazine cover (ESPN)
Good to hear you had steady hopefully you'll hook up with the trades. Crazy stuff about the mushroom cloud shaped explosions.
Kodiak Mike

June 4, 2009 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger bakergirls said...

Wonder if you'll ever find out what the red flashes were about. Your Mom posted the ESPN cover. Looks so awesome. Did you plan on being a celebrity? We are proud of you!

The Baker's

June 4, 2009 at 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are so proud of you and have had a great year following your adventures. My 16 year old daughter is inspired by your courage and maturity. She thinks you write so well! We look forward to seeing you back in the states. Hopefully we can get an autograph on that cool mag cover of yours! ;)

Heather, Sydney and Graysen

June 4, 2009 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Tapping fingers...waiting for Friday to get my copy of ESPN...way to go Zac!!!
Have an awesome safe and HAVE FUN!!!
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV Wombat

June 4, 2009 at 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Kodiak Mike said...

Are you planning to be there to greet Zac when he returns to MDR?
The Sunderland's are asking all those
who are planning to travel to MDR for Zac's historic arrival later this month to RSVP with contact info. Send an email to
Kodiak Mike

June 4, 2009 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

Between whales and semi-submerged containers, I'm guessing that I'd be a lot more nervous about hitting something at sea than you are. Of course, I'd probably stop being nervous just before I hit one. ;-P

One of the Ericsson boats in the Volvo Ocean Race hit a whale in the last leg in the North Atlantic. Nobody hurt nor sunk, but the damage sent them from a leaderboard position to a last-place finish.

Still praying Numbers 6:24-26
Mouse in Whittier

Buy "Death and Coffee" here!

June 4, 2009 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger mjbitler said...

How exciting to be almost home! Wish our family could be there to see you arrive. If you ever get to the East Coast we will there!
Cheers from Williamsburg, VA!

June 4, 2009 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger johnnyBgood said...

hello all! it has been some time since i have posted --- not for lack of interest i promise. actually, after the canal crosing i've also become a canal webcam addict. the excitement of zac's adventure continues to run deep within me and as always, zac and his wonderful family remain in my prayers.
john baker/w hollywood/ca/USofA

June 4, 2009 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it not be awesome if Zac could Land Home on Father's Day. what a great Father's Day gift that would be..
Joe from Ohio

June 4, 2009 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger ed said...

Hey Zac
I just got the ESPN mag in the mail and what a great article and the cover
Too cool I stood at the mailbox and read the thing twice you have done a great thing and I know you have many more great adventures ahead of you
Stay safe
Peace Ed

June 4, 2009 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger ed said...

Hey Zac
I just got the ESPN mag in the mail and what a great article and the cover
Too cool I stood at the mailbox and read the thing twice you have done a great thing and I know you have many more great adventures ahead of you
Stay safe
Peace Ed

June 4, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it weird to think that you've gone for almost one year?????

June 4, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

Zac Pac,
I can't find the ESPN magazine here. Has it hit the newstands yet?
Tucson, AZ

June 4, 2009 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Hey Zac,

I sure wish I could be there for your 'homecoming.' I may see more of you by watching talk shows however. You will be surrounded I'm sure. I hope I can snag a copy of ESPN magazine somehow, here in Colorado. I'll have to research that and see if they are on sale anywhere here.

I'm also reminded of the Titanic sending out flares as they were going down. I hope those red lights were not distress calls. But the mushroom shaped clouds....hmmmm! Let us know if you find out what that was all about.
(Where is daveh? Missing his input...!)

Whales are smart creatures. I think if they wanted to tip over a boat, they could and would. I'm so happy it appears they were only curious. Perhaps 'Dora' was with them and she spelled I-N-T-R-E-P-I-D (Intrepid!!), so they all knew it was Captain Zac on board.

Every nautical mile has special meaning now. Sail on Captain!


June 4, 2009 at 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your story in espn the mag. i was very impressed to know that you are only 17. i hope you make the rest of your trip safely. and i pray for your safe return home. being a mother of two little ones. I bet your mom is the proudest ever. good luck.


June 4, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope someone will video all of this, arrival and landing and hug mom, with High Definition cam corder and upload it here (not you tube) so we can all savior the moment.

Better yet you can stream it live on this site if you have some techie's at your disposal.

I got a feeling Zac's more or the most nervous about this entire voyage is the welcome party at the docks after it is all done. Everything else was as easy as pie, but a couple hundred or more people whooping and cheering at the water's edge .... brrrrr... super frightening.... anyone got a spare 30ft rogue wave instead :-)

June 4, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question for Zac. Perhaps Mom can ask him.

Ever since departure and throughout this historical journey one thing sticks out in my mind, as we've followed Zac from start to now near finish and watched him mature and become a man.

Very very very early, at one of his very early stops in an article in the media (I think), he was asked what he misses. His answer was, primarily "playing football". This was one or two or three stops into the voyage. It struck me back then and now, that that's a 16 year old kid, missing "playing football with his buddies".

Today that seems, to me at least, a lifetime ago.

The question to Zac at this stage is, back then that was a very "sweet" think to be missing :-), but today after all the experiences, and all the travelling and all the maturing, just how far away now is that "missing playing football" today. I would expect after all this sailing and hardship and aging, that the sentiment of playing football with the buddies is a fading memory from yesteryear?

Or not?

Interested more in the measure of maturing, experiencing what Zac has experienced, that that would even be a thought today. Merely some youthful longing 3 months into this trip when memories of home overrode the high seas, bitter and cold.

June 4, 2009 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Zac says he saw these fireworks on the horizon, which horizon :-)

There's a volcano outside Mexico City, POPOCATEPETL @ 19.023°N, 98.622°W that was spewing stuff on June 2nd. Though no lava fireballs.

What's the call sign of the Horizon vessel and what the direction that this viewed at.

We got the internet at our finger tips and can hunt it down.

June 4, 2009 at 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Marie said...

Oh man! The magazine AND preorders for your DVD both available tomorrow --- how cool is that??? I feel excitement brewing...!

Sail safe --- you're almost home!

Blessings -
WA St.

June 4, 2009 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger wes mcmurray said...

Just read the espn article. I love your vision to do hard things. The article reminded me of a book called Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper.
The Doldrums part was awesome..."Swimming in the Doldrums was Zac's way of continuing his voyage even while he was going nowhere."

June 4, 2009 at 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there an ETA yet?

June 4, 2009 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger rbwilson said...

I just got my ESPN magazine with you on the cover, Zac. I was following you for a couple of months before you left, when there were 100's of people who knew who you were. Now there are millions following! You (and your family) deserve all the attention you'll be getting when you arrive! Be safe, work hard, and you'll make it! I'll be there to greet you!

Bob Wilson
Laguna Niguel,CA

June 4, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flashes of light over the horizon could be many things but one of the more common ones at this latitude could be heat lightning ( )which can be seen as much as a hundred miles away even if the sky is clear at the observers location.


June 4, 2009 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Tomi said...

I want to personally thank Christian for ALL his Fantastic efforts in marketing Capt Zac!. Dude - you have done a phenominal job! Thx man!

Based upon your post Capt Zac!, at least I now know why I was prompted to put out that prayer request! Glad to know you weren't anywhere close to that explosion. :)

In case you didn't catch a read of this article:

Going to be a long day hunting newstands tomorrow for me Hero's pic on ESPN's mag.

By the bye, have y'all checked out Capt Zac!'s store lately? Shirts are getting WAY limited in sizes & there's still plent of calendars (good for getting Capt Zac!'s signature on his Book tour), & plenty of Posters too! Don't forget to pre-order your DVD part1

Bear Hugs! Y'all!

June 4, 2009 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac,

Don't worry, that "lousy magazine cover" is really not so bad. ; )


June 4, 2009 at 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got done reading the article in ESPN mag. Incredible story! You are an incredible young man! And your mom is a very special person. I have 2 boys of my own, about your age, and I wonder if I would have been so willing to let them go. But it sounds like you have it in your blood! We'll be following you home on your site.

June 4, 2009 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Jared said...

Hey Zac I just read the ESPN Mag article. I'm glad to know about the adventure you're taking. Good luck and enjoy.

June 4, 2009 at 7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am praying for your safe arrival at home and for peace for your parents till you do arrive. I am a Mom of two teenagers and I know how we pretend that we do not worry when we really are. Learned about your adventure when I read my son's ESPN mag. Very exciting article.
Good Luck from the land of great sailors too - Minnesota

June 4, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...


Someone suggested that the red lights and clouds you saw might have been lightening. Let's hope that is correct rather than a ship in distress.

I was unable to suppress a giggle when someone asked if you'd seen any Mermaids! It is alleged that the myth of Mermaids was created when seamen witnessed manatees and the suckling of their young. I'm in Florida and have only seen a couple of them, but I can tell you now that anyone who mistook them for beautiful maidens had been at sea for much much too long! Fascinating creatures, the managees, but they are butt-ugly!

Keep clicking off those miles. Each one becomes more prophetic! Ma, Pa. Heah comes yo boy!

The Croaker

June 4, 2009 at 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Erica Hansen said...

I just finished reading the ESPN article! Keep it up Zac!!! Youre in our prayers! COME HOME SAFE!

June 5, 2009 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaggy haired sailor! MMMMMMMMMMMmm.
I've been sharing your story with my grandsons since last June.They think your the greatest!
Your inspiring to them,we speak about difficult times and how you overcome them,how loneliness at sea must be hard and I tell them you have to like the company your with when your alone so be the man you would like to be stuck out there with.
We speak of preparing for life's journey the way you prepare for every leg of yours.
I salute you,Capt.Zac!

Hopefully one day you'll read about my grandsons and the article might mention the inspiration they received,as kids from the Shaggy Haired Sailor and his fantastic voyage!
Straight Wakes,
Mike S.

June 5, 2009 at 6:19 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Cover of ESPN looks great. Love the T-Shirt !

@ Rory - Your comments on the LA Times blog were so thoughtful and serious. I could not have said it better!

I am a bit concerned about that strange storm activity that we've had here off the coast the last few days. The lightning has been awful and last night provided another downpour with lots of thunder and lightning. I'm a mile from the beach here, just south of MDR, and I do hope that this stuff clears up.

June 5, 2009 at 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

I will order the CD's as soon as my billfold returns with my wife tonight LOL. Will Zac sign the CD's. That would be great

June 5, 2009 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Chesapeake Sailor said...

Here's a plausible theory on the explosions you saw. I'm in the military and was assigned to a drug interdiction command watching over Central and South America and the adjacent seas to the U.S. There is no small amount of drug trafficking over water from South to North in your locale. One of the common methods of destroying the drug boats after use (by the villans) is to ditch them on the high seas - sometimes by blowing them up and sinking them. If this was happening at night, it could be a likely explanation of what you saw. Stay safe Zac. God is with you. Greg

June 5, 2009 at 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never even considered buying an ESPN magazine before and now I can't wait to go find it.
Way to go Zac!

Crystal in Lacey, WA

June 5, 2009 at 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Marie said...

@Mona in Tuscon... did you ever find your issue of ESPN? When I read that you were having difficulty finding one in your area, I KNEW I was in trouble since I live in a little town in WA!

I have driven around like a crazy woman and made dozens of phone calls. No luck. Does anyone out there have a secret that you're willing to share as to where we might find it? I'm not really interested in a full subscription, only the current issue featuring our Zac!!! I know it will be worth the wait!

Many thanks -
WA St.

June 5, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

I was disappointed today, after rushing out to get my copy of the ESPN magazine. The owner of the newsstand in Woodland Hills said the new ESPN magazine won't be in until Monday. He owns three newsstands, and he said no one will get the new issue today, Friday. So, it sounds like just the subscribers get to touch the real thing today, but non-subscribers have to wait until next week. Perhaps other parts of the country are different, but that's the story for Southern California.

Marilyn in Woodland Hills

June 5, 2009 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger ponyscott said...

I read the article last night on ESPN and was inspired to add my name to your blogger list...what a great feat and epic journey for you Zac and I wish you a safe last leg of your trip back into California!

Scott from Dallas, Texas

June 5, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger JBSeyler said...

Just read the ESPN article.

Kudos to your bud!!!

It goes to show that it's not about the destination but all about the journey.

Tight sails and best of luck.

June 5, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger JBSeyler said...

Just read the article in ESPN.

Kudos to you!!!

It proves that it's not about the destination but all about the journey.

Tight sails and best of luck.

June 5, 2009 at 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Sanjay said...

Zac, You have done more in 1 year than most of us will do in our lifetime. I am going to read my children the ESPN story and may bring them out to see you come in to the Marina. It wasn't clear whether you are an only child, but above all, I commend your parents for their courage during this year. I can't imagine what they have gone through.

June 5, 2009 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

So everyone is going crazy looking for the ESPN magazine. Everyone in Southern California will have to wait until Monday for the current issue. Only subscribers to the ESPN magazine will be able to see it today.

Let's all remember that Zac is still out there sailing and hopefully getting closer to home. It would be interesting to know how much wind he picked up? If he gets more wind he'll be in sooner.

Sail On Zac,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 5, 2009 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ESPN Magazine has gone digital from this June edition onwards. You can read it online, but of course must pay :-) there is a monthly option, I suppose you can order for one month -- this month, then cancel the subscription:

June 5, 2009 at 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Marilyn, yes Zac is on the issue dated June 8th. The current issue on most newstands is the June 1st issue with a soccer cover.

@Axel, Mike P's route from NZ is about a straight line towards Panama so far. He blogs that he's heading back to the So. Ocean soon? Like, sure.

June 5, 2009 at 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Barry Witte said...

I spent a lot of time in the US Navy. Being underway is a unique experience, regardless of what type of vessel you sail; but no matter how long you sail, you will never "see it all." Enjoy the views and the experiences. If you were to take Intrepid on a second circumnavigation voyage the day after you return, I assure you it would be a totally different experience. Cherish each moment.

June 5, 2009 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Nichole in NH said...

Zac and his mom!
I just received my FREE ESPN magazine in the mail today (get it free from un-claimed US Airway miles)and usually give them to my brother, however just reading the cover (excellant photo) I could not put it down till I read your whole story! You remind me of the love of my life when I meet him on a Florida beach when I was a senior in 1992. His name was Zach too! Full of life and loved the ocean, a captain and unfortunatly we lost him @ sea 5 years ago. I am a mother and would be as proud as I know yours is! Awesome job Zac! From way over here in NH, CONGRATULATIONS on your accomplishment! Keep on livin out your dreams, trust in God and you are good to go!

June 5, 2009 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...


When I discovered that I couldn't get the magazine at the newsstand, I read the article on line and didn't have to pay. That doesn't mean I won't go out on Monday and buy the REAL thing, though. But, with all of the Zac supporters, I'm going to go early!

The article is at

Marilyn in Woodland Hills

June 5, 2009 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Weird about the red flashes. Let us know what up with that if you find out.

What's the ETA for MDR?

Santa Monica

June 5, 2009 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the article in the doctor's office and was amazed by the story. Very inspiring. I have done a ton of off-shore overnight fishing trips and there is nothing like being out there on the open sea. I agree with Laura, enjoy the last few weeks.


June 9, 2009 at 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


August 31, 2009 at 6:42 AM  

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