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!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice looking repair.
It would take lots of sailors weeks to complete a job like that.
You guys rock!
I have been following your whole trip and it's great to see you nearing home.
Glad you are getting favorable winds for the recent legs.
Do keep your guard up for the last few hundred miles.


June 28, 2009 at 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal said...

The misery you endured made that gift to your son all the more beautiful.

There are many ways to say: "I Love You."

Words work quite nicely.

But actions trump all.

You've got nice actions.

- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

June 28, 2009 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger John Gezelius said...

I kept trying to visualize what had given weigh and could not come up with that picture - I was thinking of some sort of traverse bulkhead from side to side. A photo is worth . . .

June 28, 2009 at 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Bill Jamison said...

It looks like you have a beautiful weather window for sailing home! No tropical systems show up on the forecast and even the winds look like they could remain favorable. With luck you'll be home in 8 to 10 days.

I hope the repairs hold and they certainly look strong. Soon you'll be back home enjoying some well earned rest and time with your family.

What a great accomplishment Zac, truly amazing and inspiring!

June 28, 2009 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I've been following you the whole time too. Your one amazing guy! Do you even relize how much your parents love you? How incredably strong your ties are? Go to college. There is no telling what a guy like you can do or go with just a couple of book smarts

June 29, 2009 at 3:57 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

I'm trying to wrap my head around this repair and I just don't know enough about the boat to put it all together. I gather this is part of a wall in the cabin thats also exposed to the outside. Is it in the front or back? It pullled out because of the tension from the chain plate, but what exactly is tied to the chain plate? The thing that hold the mast in place? I remember zac saying he had to ease off the mast to protect this bulkhead.

I join all the others in admiration of your ability to do a repair like this in the field without your shop and usual tools. Applying fiberglass, to me, seems like hte most exotic thing imaginable and you just do it like its as easy as anything.

Originally Zac, like all the kids who are currently sailing or getting ready to sail, wanted to do this non-stop and non-assisted. After all that we've watched both Zac and Mike go through, and the demands it placed on their parents, could they have actually completed the trip without assistance at all? I don't see how the vendee globe people do it... surely things like this happen to them too.

June 29, 2009 at 5:09 AM  
Blogger kenintoronto said...

Thank you Laurence for the great, detailed, screen size pictures of your handywork. I hope that you will take some photos of Zac's return with your camera so that we can see the real pictures.

Smooth Sailing!

June 29, 2009 at 5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac and Dad,

Did that bulkhead rot
get past a survey
prior to departure or purchase??



June 29, 2009 at 6:20 AM  
Blogger Donna-Jean said...

Thanks for the pictures to go along with the well-written explanation of the work.
We continue to pray for you, Zac, and the entire family. Praying for you, especially, as you navigate the next phase of your life, including the initial celebrity that will surround you when you return.
We keep checking in!

June 29, 2009 at 6:42 AM  
Anonymous Don Hundt said...

Great repair, considering the location, time constraint, and working conditions. What dedication you have to see your son through the completion of his journey. May Zac have a safe and uneventful remainder to this last leg.
P.S. is that the new Dremel multi tool I see in the picture? As a finish carpenter, that's my new favorite, and certainly one I would have in a boat reapair arsenal!

June 29, 2009 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Thanks for the update Zac. I'm glad the weather is treating you well. Keep those sails full and keep heading North up to California.

Those old memories of cruising with your family sounds great. Stopping the boat and jumping in with dolphins does wonders for the spirit and it definitely puts you in a different mood. I'm sure you completely forgot about that engine noise. I would really enjoy hearing about the moments that you said are not so pleasant!!! Sounds like Mom & Dad know exactly what you're writing about.

Laurence, thanks for sending the pictures and the description of your work. I never expected to hear more details about the work you did to Intrepid. We actually received more details and pictures to go along with it. Thank you so much for doing this for all of us here because we really appreciate it. Sounds like you want to give Jen a run for the photographers job. I totally agree with you regarding dealing the structural defects and that no cosmetic work would be done until Zac returns to the US. I'm sure it hurt you to leave it this way unfinished but you can take care of this after Zac returns to MDR. I'm sure you'll hear about this from everyone entering Intrepid. You did the job in a specific time and that's what counts.

Sail Home Zac,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 29, 2009 at 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great repair..under the circ's. Although Paradise Village isn't a bad place to be if you need repairs!!LOL...Very glad to hear about the favorable for the tricky part... coming home....hopefully it won't be anything like what you had prior to PV.
Best wishes...fair winds....

June 29, 2009 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Joy on Journey said...

Zac - do me a favor, don't swim there, k? I saw this thing on Animal Planet with giant squid from the Sea of Cortez - I will forever be freaked out about that sea because of what I saw pulled out of it! EE-YIKES!

SO COOL that you are heading up your final coast. WEIRD and WOW!! GO, Zac!!

PLEASE let's get some TELECONFERENCING, skype or streaming of some kind going - at least - especially if the ZacPac has a meet and greet with Zac in a hotel conf. room or something. WE ALL WHO CAN BE (virtually or otherwise) SHOULD BE THERE! I hope something works out.

We could try to gather those in the same city to one place for celebrations. Hello - Twin Cities?? Anyone else here wanna toast Zac's return with me?

Blessings on all y'all.
LA in MN

June 29, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

So glad the winds are favorable and moving you along at a good pace. I pray good conditions continue and that we'll see you sailing into MDR very soon.

Thanks for sharing the details of the bulkhead repairs. No wander Zac is such an amazing young man, he has an amazing Dad!

Stay safe Zac.
Tucson, AZ

June 29, 2009 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Rusty said...

Zac I hope that you have thought a little about what will happen to Intrepid when you get home. Your incredible adventure has bound you and your brave vessel together for life. It reminds me alot of Lindbergh and his plane "Spirit of St. Louis". He referred to the bond as "We". Anyone who has been the Smithsonian Air and Space museum and stared up at those frail craft that brave men and women took great risk in, will understand the question---what will happen to Intrepid?
She should be protected. You didn't sail around the world alone. You did it with that old sailboat--your boat. Maybe a small group of the Zac Pack who live close by can keep an eye on her and keep her clean when you get back. She is famous now just like you.


June 29, 2009 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Been apart from the blog for the weekend, so I had 3 posts & associated comments to catch up on!

Zac - So glad you are on your way again, my goodness you are probably headed up the coastline now, truly not very far from home! Absolutely Amazing.

Lawrence - What an incredible job you did, once again, for Zac. Thank you so much for your descriptions and your hard work. Your entire family is an inspiration.

Lee – Your lengthy comment from the Fri 6/16 post encapsulated so much of what many of us Zac-Packers have felt – thank you for taking the time to get our thoughts down! My young son and daughter have already been inspired by Zac’s adventure, and I have continued to be inspired by Marianne & Lawrence in their strength & determination to support their children’s dreams.

My favorite quotes from the last few blogs:

Lawrence on Zac “He navigated the small entrance to the harbor with his usual diligence.”

Zac on Intrepid & Lawrence “Intrepid feels strong and ready for the ride. I am so grateful to my dad who was an absolute hero on the stop.”

Lee “As ‘virtual crew’ we are proud to have sailed along with you.”

Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

June 29, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the link to what appears to be a short series of stories (LA Times) about Zac's approach and arrival at MDR.

Dale in LA

June 29, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Hi There Zac...

Well, you are almost HOME sailor man! You never cease to amaze all of us here in the cyber world that have had the privilege of following along on your most amazing journey. I know you must really appreciate your Dad for the hard work he has put in to keep you moving. Zac you will admire him even more and have more respect for what he has done once you have reached his age. That's the one thing you will have to wait for, getting to his age... where you feel the heat and the cramps of trying to squeeze into places you might could have fitted when you were 17, the pain from the joints, etc. You will have a whole new admiration for him. You are a very blessed young man to have two parents, two parents who both love and adore you and have sacrificed so much in order that you could have had this wonderful opportunity. With having said that, I fully believe that you are very deserving of having such parents. You have been a blessing to them and to all of your followers. It is hard to find good heroes today, but it would be hard to find an American Hero better than you Zac Sunderland! America needs more Zac Sunderlands, and more Mariannes and Laurences. I really look forward to seeing how your lives impact so many other lives. You already have!~
Stay true to your beliefs and acknowledge Him in all you do and have done.

To the Pac, wow it has been some journey for those of us that have had to stay land locked yet have sailed around the world together. May we continue to find adventures to travel together on. Your tireless support for Zac has been uplifting to me, and reassuring that the world still has good folks that want the best for the Zac's in our lives. May each of you and your families be blessed for having spent time together here.

I continue to stand and applaud the great American Adventurer, Zac Sunderland, and watch the shoreline for Intrepid to be bringing him home!!! What's That? Maybe a tear in my eye...

Bob in OKC

June 29, 2009 at 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Mimi & Desi said...

Dear Zac, Thank God for sunny northwesterly's...time to rest, & dolphins!!! Too fun. We were about 100 miles out off the cape a couple of years ago, ran with the group of about 100 spotted dolphins. Too rough to get in though. Robin Williams swam with them the year before...we watched the documentary. I don't know who had more fun, us or them...him for sure. And as for the cheerleading team? I feel sure in saying "for everyone", it's our pleasure. We love it. We've got box seats...after all, you are the one out there taking all the chances, risking it all, & doing all the hard work. The least we can do is cheer!!! Yeah ZAC!!!
We'll check in tonight...Hope from Atlanta, Mimi & Desi

June 29, 2009 at 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are a few thoughts just to put the bulkhead repair (and the critical importance of that kind of thing) into perspective in the least possible nautical jargon as I can.

A sailboat is (in its best configuration) a finely balanced structure that has to be strong without being completely rigid. The boat's hull is designed to not only move easily through the water but also has to be light weight, yet strong enough to not only securely hold the keel weight (the weight below the boat to keep it from tipping over)but both strong and flexible enough to hold the mast upright AND absorb the forces transmitted to it from the rigging (all those wires that hold the mast up)while under sail.

The hull is, basically, a big bathtub made of fiberglass with a lid on it - the deck. BUT the lid has a several holes in it (companion way to enter the boat and forward hatch). The tub has to be strengthened internally to give it a stable form...the bulkheads (among other things) serve that purpose. They run cross wise to the length of the hull, and also divide the internal space into smaller sections at the same time. The bulkheads are not solid in themselves. Like walls in your house, they have doorways in them also but are secured to the sides of the hull, cabin floor and underside of the deck. They keep the hull from being being distorted from sideways pressure and serve as supports for the deck.

I assume you can imagine the forces on the sail area while the boat underway. They are enough to literally force the boat over on its side....and are strong enough to lift the thousands of pounds of keel up as it does. The rigging that holds the mast up while it is just sitting at the dock is then under serious load (that increases as the angle of heel increases). When the wind presses against the sail, it forces the boat over to leeward (away from the direction of the wind) and puts great strain on the rigging on the side from which the wind is blowing. The rigging that runs fore and aft (to the bow and the stern - forestay and backstay) has relatively strong attachments points, but those that are holding up the mast on the sides of the boat (the shrouds) have to handle a great deal the force.

Those shrouds are attached to chainplates that usually run down through the deck on both sides and into the cabin. Those plates are attached to the structure of the boat..usually a portion of the bulkhead. When the windward shroud is under strain (from the wind blowing on the sails from that side)the shroud is pulled very very tight and basically is trying to tear the bulkhead up and out through the deck. This effect is compounded by the bucking motion of the boat was it makes it's way through the swells.

From Laurence's post it seems the bulkhead may have been weakened by water damage coming through the deck where the stanchion (the metal rods that form the "fence posts" for the life lines that run along the outside edge of the boat)was set directly above the bulkhead.

The deck itself has little strength; cleats, winches, line stoppers etc that are attached to it are either reinforced below the deck or the item is placed on the deck where the deck itself is well secured to structural part of the boat.
Hope that helps the less boat wide Zac Packers.

Here's hoping the rest of the trip is uneventful,

Steve in CA

June 29, 2009 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous The Writer said...

Zac and Dad,
I've commented before but now consider yourself one of -- if not -- the best father-son combo in the sailing-boating business!
And yes, we are your cheerleading section (I love college football and it's not far off; by the way, do you two pull for the Chargers and Philip Rivers, who played for my alma mater, NC State?)....
Can you project a timetable when you will arrive home?
George Cox, Wilmington, NC

June 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

The Sunderland's ROCK!!! :)

Anita Miracle
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV Wombat

June 29, 2009 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Diamond-X said...


What a fantastic support group you have around you.

And look.....there, on the horizon...Home!

No amount of schooling could have turned you into the man you are today.


Martin from Diamond Bar

June 29, 2009 at 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Zac and Laurence: I have been reading your blog almost from the outset and following with great interest and anticipation your adventure. I thank Laurence for his description of the last set of repairs he needed to make to Intrepid - amazing work in such a short space of time. Since the first thing I do when I get home from work is to check your blog I don't know what I will do once your journey is completed. I will definitely miss the vicarious adventure. Wishing you safe travels for the remainder of your trip. Cheers! from Marjorie Forster, Baltimore, MD.

June 29, 2009 at 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Marie said...

I feel excitement brewing!!!

@Anita - I agree! The Sunderland's DO rock!!!

@Bob - Well, you did it again. Anyone for a tissue? :)

Blessings to all on this beautiful afternoon -

WA St.

June 29, 2009 at 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Kathleen in Palms said...

Zac, your name was prayed over at Mass yesterday at St. Augustine Catholic church in Culver City.

To Doug Pistone, I most certainly plan to be there at the dock on homecoming day, thanks!!

June 29, 2009 at 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are all the old quotes about "nothing worth having comes without a fight"? You Sunderlands seem to be the picture of teamwork and perseverance. Another quote hits me though through all your adventures and misadventures: "A father is someone who has pictures of his kids in his wallet where his money used to be."

Looking forward to the homecoming, whether I can be there or not.

Jack Mulkey
in the South Bay

June 29, 2009 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

@ Kathleen in Palms,

It's great you will be at the homecoming.

I'm hoping everyone local or semi-local will be at Burton Chance Park in MDR when Zac arrives. Everyone start making your plans for the day when Zac arrives.

I hope the sailing is going well Zac. Keep us posted because it's very close to the end.

Sail Home Zac,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 29, 2009 at 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Now, you must stay the course and keep a close eye out for ships, and for the prize that is so close at hand -- completion of your defining adventure. So, blogging can wait! Besides, your faithful "crew" of followers stepped up quite ably to the blogging task.

Thank you all for the community shared these many months. Many lives buoyed up, other challenges ready to be faced.

@ Steve in CA, special thanks today for your thorough and thoughtful description of the sailing vessel and critical components.

Peace to all, and fair winds, Zac!

Woodland Hills, CA

June 29, 2009 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Sunday (6/28) I was sitting on the beach in Cabo around 1pm and saw a sloop several miles off shore. Upon returning home and reading this post about your course past Cabo I thought that could have been you. Sound about right?

June 30, 2009 at 5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotto love Laurence. Check him peeking out from behind the bulkhead with a mischevious look :-)

Without question doing what he loves to do regardless of the conditions. Which is what makes a shipwright make ships wright :-)

June 30, 2009 at 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Disaster Restoration said...

Great job on finding those damages and nice work on repairing. It's really hard to have any water damage to our properties especially in your case. Good luck on all your ventures.

July 27, 2010 at 9:08 PM  

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