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.



Blogger carichord said...

I just read an article about you while getting an oil change in Arizona. May the winds work for you. God speed kid.

June 7, 2009 at 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read your story in ESPN the Mag.

May God guide you home safely! Praying for you in Fargo, ND!

The Steinhauers

June 8, 2009 at 12:24 AM  
Blogger Fulgum said...

Hi, Zac. I understand it, in Mexico, the Summer months are the rainy times of the year. I would imagine Central America being very similar. Be careful, Zac. Once a storm has formed, you don't have a lot of time to make a decision and go. Hoping for the best!!!



June 8, 2009 at 12:27 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Hang in there Zac.....How's your Spanish????
Good on ya mate, sail on!!
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV Wombat

June 8, 2009 at 1:58 AM  
Anonymous ponyscott said...

Keep working Zac and stay on your toes....the winds are just testing you but you are strong of heart and will be tuned in to wherever they can take you. If you have to take to the coast, so be it.

Take care and stay strong!

Scott in Dallas

June 8, 2009 at 3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our kids are so excited to know you are almost home. We enjoyed reading the ESPN article it was excellent; thought provoking and inspiring (like you!) We wished we lived closer and could come and welcome you when you pull into Marina del Rey. Best of luck on the last leg.

Jane, John, Finn and Mathilde

June 8, 2009 at 5:53 AM  
Anonymous Axel said...

After that ESPN story I thought it's time to mention the Zac Pack map again. Here is the link:

Everybody interested can put their name on the map

June 8, 2009 at 6:05 AM  
Anonymous Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher said...

Hang in there Zac! You're doing great, although I can't quite fathom how frustrating the wind situation is for you, as well as the debate that’s going on with you & your home team as to which route you should go forward. So many of us back here routing for you! I wore my Zac t-shirt yesterday at a family gathering – everyone knew about your adventure, even those I hadn’t told yet myself, so your story is definitely getting out to the masses! I absolutely love your dolphin pod and sea turtle descriptions, will be reading those to my little ones. Take care out there. Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

June 8, 2009 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger c said...

just read the article on a friend of mine rode his bicycle from the east coast to west coast. i envy you guys for just doing it. instead of saying why should i take this journey, you are the why shouldn't i type.

June 8, 2009 at 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Will/East London S.A. said...

Zac said: What next I wonder ?

Firstly, when you are back, try to recuperate some more dollars then what was invested in this journey.

Secondly, get a degree (another one then the one you are achieving right now), so finish school !!

Then, do what you mentioned to me, what you like to do after your return, when you were in East London, South Africa....I am sure you will succeed.

And yes, I remember almost every day, that you as a youngster told me "the old one": JUST DO IT, MAN...(in response to me saying that I wanted to start sailing...but that I was possibly to old..).

Indeed, so many people need that to be said, in daily life, to them: JUST DO IT, MAN

June 8, 2009 at 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Shawn Norris said...

Zac....Hey bro I just read a story about you on I think it's awesome what your doing. Im am on my own little adventure right now in South Korea (I am from Florida) but unlike you I am 29 years old. I think you have a lot of guts and heart to do what your doing. I have been through a lot of rough times in my life and I must say that some of the best therapy is knowing that your boundaries are really endless if you want them to be. Stay true to yourself and live your life the way that makes you happy. (It seems like your already doing that!) and when you feel down and wonder why your doing what your doing I like this movie quote from Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy living or get busy dying." I think you are living my friend. Keep exploring the world as I hope to and if you ever are bored feel free to email me at (my name is Shawn) good luck on the last leg of your journey and all the best in the future!!

June 8, 2009 at 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Brenda Fontaine said...

Sun should be rising any sec, Zac. Hope your night was quiet. Obvious, breezes...winds are back. Hopeful not the calm before a storm. ugrib & AIRS "look" reasonably light from here. You're almost home. Maybe you'll skim right thru, past the M.Navy. Again, deep're so close. When's the deadline(b'day?)? Sail fast & without incident. Look for you tonight. It's the 8th. Wonder where Zac'll be June 8th, 2010? Later...Mimi & Desi(he's come aboard...the blog boat, intrigued)

June 8, 2009 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

It's sounds like it's a little frustrating out there with the wind shifting consistently. Please make sure you watch those storms and stay alert.

You're so close to MDR we need you to stay ready and diligent so you can react at any situation that comes your way. Try and avoid those Mexican Navy boats.

Enjoy the Sail,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

June 8, 2009 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Mona said...

I finally found a copy of the ESPN magazine this weekend. What a great article. Had to read it in phases because my eyes kept tearing up. I'm so proud to have been a part of this great adventure since day one.
Stay safe Zac. I hope to be able to get over to MDR for the big homecoming.
Tucson, AZ

June 8, 2009 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

I sure hope the guy at the newsstand in Woodland Hills knows what he's talking about, because I called him this morning, and he said the ESPN Magazine distributer didn't make a delivery this morning, as he expected, but that they would be delivering the new issues on Wednesday!!! How frustrating that those of us closest to his home can't get our hands on the magazine without a subscription! I called CVS, Von's and Ralphs, and none of them carry ESPN.

I sure hope they don't run out before I can get one in my hot little hands! My greatest fear is that, if it comes out weekly, this issue will be skipped in our area, and the one that is on the newsstand on Wednesday is the next one, not the one with Zac on the cover.

Marilyn in Woodland Hills

June 8, 2009 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger taylor said...

Good Luck Zac. The Lakers won the second game of the NBA Finals last night over the Orlando Magic. Thats what I was thinking about last night. Kind of random, but in all your time out at sea I figured you might want to hear about something random. Keep it up - Theo, Elon University NC

June 8, 2009 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So near but lots to be vigilant over and lots to overcome still.
We want you home SAFE and WELL.
We know that you will do your very best to do the right thing.
We believe in you.
Many people are hearing of you for the first time and wishing you the very best.It is great to read the positive comments and to know what an impact you have made on the lives of so many.
Keep up the excellent work.
Praying for you.

UK friend

June 8, 2009 at 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

@ Marilyn - Forget the newstand. Go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and I'm sure you'll find it. Good luck! I've got to get mine too!

@ Axel - Thanks for the link for the map again. I haven't seen it in some time...

Had a huge smile on my face as I read entries from the ESPN readers. Welcome to a truly wonderful blog!

@ Zac - keep your focus, don't get complacent. It appears that there is some funk weather along the So. Cal. coast stretching down into Mexico. In other words, the coast is NOT clear! Don't push on, pull into port if it's too stormy out there.

June 8, 2009 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac! Just read your incredible story on Althought I'm not a sailboater, I grew up since age 9 on my parents powerboats on The Great Lakes and I've been boating on the Atl & Pac a few times. Not sure if you'll even read this, but based on your 6-7-09blog entry, I hope you take a run for the coast to catch some much needed winds. You've been offshore for quite awhile, head in a bit and I think you might catch the air you want, just a hunch on my part. Good luck kid, thinking of you and praying for you in Cleveland, Ohio. :) Michael

June 8, 2009 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Wahoo said...


Other than Puerto Madero (Chiapas) which you are now past we had no problems last year with the Mexican Navy. Even then they were professional and polite, but time consuming. Hopefully you will have no problems and keep moving. I have been following you for the whole year you have been gone. I had the opportunity to meet Josh Clark (I assume you know of him) last year in Golfito, Costa Rica. Here is an excerpt from my June 16, 2008 log...

"This is 16 year old Josh Clark on his Cal 32 Elusive leaving for Bahia Herridura en route for his attempt at a single handed circumnavigation. There is another 16 year old, Zac Sunderland, that just left MDR, CA on Saturday hoping to complete the youngest solo circumnavigation. I am sure you have heard of Zac in the media. His campaign seems much better planned, funded, and publicized than Josh’s. We will see what happens."

I think you have demonstrated true courage and determination and we have "seen what happened".

Homeward bound!

June 8, 2009 at 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go boy. We here at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks wish you the absolute best of luck as you make the homeward bound trek.

Cal Lutheran University Faculty Member

June 8, 2009 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac, been following your progress since last fall when your dad and I were assistant coaches for Toby and my son Tanner's soccer team. You've got a great family. Get home and finish strong!

Todd Cereghino

June 8, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Ginger in Colorado said...

Hey Zac,
I haven't sent you a message in a while but have been following your adventure daily and praying lots for your safety. The ESPN article was great! Since we can't come to MDR for your arrival, perhaps you will do a book tour later on? I'll handle the Colorado Springs arrangements if you come here! God bless you on this last leg and don't let frustration get to you. You're doing great!

June 8, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Jon Steinmetz said...

Just read the ESPN Mag article...awesome. I am a high school English teacher, and I look forward to sharing this article with my students next year. While many kids your age are happy just sitting around and doing nothing, you're breaking ground and seeing things many can only read or dream about. Good luck to you on the rest of your journey!

June 8, 2009 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger logicfan said...

Greetings from Wheaton, Illinois! I too just read your story in ESPN Magazine. Incredible! Good luck and keep up your strength.

June 8, 2009 at 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zac,
I just read the ESPN article and it was really good. Even with your posts and all these articles it's still hard to even imagine what it's like to be out on the ocean for so long.

I loved the mention of Do Hard Things. I got that book for Christmas and thought it was so cool.

Will continue to pray for safety and wisdom for you as you sail homeward!

A fellow homeschooled friend :)

June 8, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Olivia M. said...

I think what you are doing is amazing! Gd bless you.

June 8, 2009 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Shelley Tucker said...

I say go to shore, wait for the storm to pass.

June 8, 2009 at 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal said...

Zac --

I know you've got great advisors, so this isn't needed, but . . . generally when a storm is brewing you are better off being in deep water than anywhere near the shore.

If you have an absolutely safe hurricane-hole of a harbor that you know you can absolutely reach in time, then fine, you can consider shore.

But without that certainty, you are better off being in deep water. The waves should be less steep, and you won't have to worry about getting blown onto a lee shore.

By the Way: Until reading your blog, I had no idea that hurricanes originated off the shores of Mexico. I'd always thought that they started in the Atlantic, worked their way across the Gulf of Mexico, and then came overland and reformed.

Now I know why your Dad was so eager to get you north before June. Oh, well! ;-)

Anyways, all the best. If you do get stuck out there in a blow, you'd want to take the main off the boom if you got the chance to reduce windage, drop your roller furled sail and stow it below so that it couldn't break loose and fill in a blow, and tie off ALL loose lines so you don't get a line wrapped around your rudder as happened to the Japanese singlehander off of Cape Horn.

I never liked the wide companionway entry for the Islander 36. Seems like that would be a huge liability if you got caught in a hurricane as the wider the companionway, the more vulnerable your hatchboards would be to getting bashed in by waves.

With thoughts such as that in mind, maybe the light air you are in now will seem more agreeable. ;-)

All the Best.

And it is fun to see how many new folks have headed this way from the ESPN article.

- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

June 8, 2009 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

FYI - In regards to the ZacPac Location Map, notice in the upper lefthand corner there is a "Go Back" arrow, if you click on it you can cycle through additional pages of ZacPac pins on the map. Seems each page only holds so many pins. It's a good visual as to how widespread the ZacPac really is. Welcome to all of the new bloggers from having read about Zac in the ESPN magazine! This is truly an American Story, spread the word!
Bob in OKC

June 8, 2009 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Katelyn said...

Zac, I read about your trip on the Rebelution Blog. Praise God for keeping you safe!

June 8, 2009 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Kodiak Mike said...

Please RSVP with contact info to with email
and other contact info. We are making a list of those on the blog-site who would want to get together. Arrival date at MDR is approx June 25, 26th.
Kodiak Mike

June 8, 2009 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger Marilyn said...

Thanks so much for the Barnes & Noble suggestion. The Calabasas store has put one aside, and I'm going over in 10 minutes to pick it up . . . YAY!

Boy, you really tell it like it is! I sure hope Zac doesn't have to do some of the things you suggested in storms approach!

Keep the faith and keep plugging. You are so close to fulfilling your dream now! I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to be so close and yet so far.

Marilyn in Woodland Hills

June 8, 2009 at 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just read about you on I'm sitting here in central Pennsylvania, just about to leave work. Hang in there, bro.
Read Psalm 23 when you get a chance.


June 8, 2009 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Zac - just read your story on Safe travels for the remainder of your journey and all future endeavors.

June 8, 2009 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

Hi Zac - I have a friend that is moving a 58' trawler from BVI to Hawaii, they just left Cabo for the final leg.

On one part of the trip, the Mexican Navy boarded their boat, guns pointed, fingers on triggers, put all of them in seperate rooms and grilled them for hours, AND tore the boat appart looking for contraband...

Hope you can avoid that type of experience!

Good luck with getting winds, but not too much from the TS's

Daveh & Skipper

June 8, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

Hey Zac

I just want to let you know that you are one of the most amazing kids I've ever heard about. Keep going, Trust God, and Do Hard Things!

June 8, 2009 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger MistaGetItIN said...

Zac, just read your ESPN article..You are amazing, I will be following you on your blog until the finish!!! good luck!!


June 8, 2009 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Steve H said...

Good Afternoon Zac:

I just read the ESPN article and it's always heartwarming to read about those who just go do what they feel they need to do. I'm in a 9 to 5 but know I shouldn't be here and won't be for long.

It was cool of you to mention Grenada. I was born in the Caribbean (Dominica, W.I.) and can remember all the adventures I concocted in my head while living down there. Here in Los Angeles, I'm a robot for now but you've thrown out a beautiful rope of hope.

I know you'll be fine dude. Just do what you do.


June 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man,

I was just surfing ESPN when i came across your story. Your an inspiration to many including me. What you will have accomplished at such a young age just goes to show anything is possible. You should make a documentary about the trip with the footage your taking.

I'd also like to acknowledge your parents. Letting you go on an adventure like this is a huge choice. I'm 18 and my parents would never let me do anything like this.

Stay safe and look forward to hearing about you reaching Cali!

Mitch from Goderich, Ontario, Canada

June 8, 2009 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The current shifting winds does sound like it's the outer band effects of this thing developing out there. It shows 1222 miles from Acapulco:

If this is the case, then technically shouldn't it, as it moves closer, increase winds in its outerband, which in turn then will propel Zac further (away) i.e. the winds will increase, and will fill his sails and "push" him as long as he steers North, further away from it and of course closer to home?

Unless of course if it's moving faster than the winds it generates :-)

June 8, 2009 at 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Brenda Fontaine said...

The sun's gone here in Atlanta, Zac. And according to the weather online, you look clear. Hope the report is accurate. Received emails today from 3 friends that read my forwards of your story. I wonder if Zac (that's you) knows what an inspiration he is to all the rest of the world (that's us). I hope so. You've become, not just dinner conversation, but breakfast & lunch, too. Everyone is in awe, praying for your safe return. It's the only beginning that will work. May the sun set red for you tonight, as it's a sailor's delight. Mimi & Desi...see ya in the morn...

June 8, 2009 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger Arminius Advocatus said...

Just to wish you the best of luck. Unless you are carrying questionable material (aka. turtle-eggs, endangered species, narcotics or child pornography), Mexican Navy should stand no problem for you and your adventure.

Let's hope some winds get you moving, so you get home as soon as possible. ;)

Buena Suerte desde el Corazón de México, Navegante ;)

--Arminius, the lawyer of insanity ;)

June 8, 2009 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Landon Brands said...

Congrats on the ESPN cover!

June 8, 2009 at 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was perusing ESPN and just read the article about your travels...absolutely inspiring.

I've had quite a few adventures in my life - living abroad in the third world, marathoning, mountain climbing...I read that story and it makes me jealous. Perhaps, your eating some freeze dried cr@p right now and thinking about friends and family and other enticements long missed.

Well, all I can say is that you are truly living life and those memories of hardship will morph into defining moments of growth.

Keep it up and feel free to make contact if you ever have the desire.


June 8, 2009 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

You da man (well....soon enough)!!! Just read about your adventure in ESPN Mag. Congrats and good luck on your last leg home!!

Rick in Annapolis

June 8, 2009 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Lightfoot said...

wow, zac...amazing! good luck! can't wait to hear more!

- fellow 'Do Hard Things' reader

June 8, 2009 at 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read the ESPN story online, but the magazine came in to "my" Barnes & Noble in Torrance today, so I snatched up a couple of copies. As someone who edits news copy for a living, I can say this was a very nicely done story ... one definitely for Zac, family and friends to be proud of.

@Zac -- prayin' for ya as you complete the journey that you'll continue to be vigilant and safe, with just enough adventure to keep it interesting. And I'll pray, too, for your readjustment to home and for you to get some rest amid all the attention. You may not have another adventure to top this one, but I'd say keep growing and you'll have new adventures in sharing your experiences and knowledge with others. College? Yeah, maybe not. But then again, maybe -- you could teach sailing and adventuring to young adults. Whatev!

Best, Jack Mulkey
in the South Bay

June 8, 2009 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that you edited out my comment, "Congratulations for getting rid of the gun." Scared of the truth?

I've followed Zac from the beginning and have been a big supporter, but became more and more concerned about the Guns and God attitude that is too strong for me on this site.

16 is too young to have total control of a gun. I hope you come to your senses with the rest of your children.

I know you will edit this out, but I want you to think about what could have happened.

June 9, 2009 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Tomi said...

Prayers sent for the two lads lost at sea.

Am still searching for the ESPN mag, but now that have Melanie's suggestion, will ck B&N to add to my pile of memorabilia I've collected during this historic journey.

For new readers of Capt Zac!'s blog - welcome to the ZacPac. I encourage you to check out Zac!'s Store & respectfully request your support of my Hero, either by purchasing something or making a donation. Every dollar helps.

Also, check out previous posts & comments. There are several gems that have been shared throughout this journey.

Lastly, read through the Supporter's page & help support those who've supported Capt Zac!.

Again, welcome to Zac!'s Pac :)


June 9, 2009 at 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For recent folks to Zac's blog you may also be interested in following others who are doing similarly amazing current endeavors, follow their blogs:

Roz Savage, solo Pacific Ocean rower:
Sarah Outen, solo Indian Ocean rower:
Jessica Watson, will she break Zac's record:

To the poster who recently questioned the issue of ocean pollution and the endangerment of sea turtles read this for starters:

All species of sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered.

Maybe Zac can fill us in on any marine garbage he sees, note that much of it is degraded to small particles that choke marine life including birds.

Fair winds,
Former oceanographer

June 12, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

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