Outdoors, action, adventure

« Previous Post | Outposts Home | Next Post »

Sailor Zac Sunderland gives thanks, turns 17 alone in Indian Ocean

December 4, 2008 | 10:01 am

Zac Sunderland relaxes in Mauritius before embarking for Durban, South Africa.

Did you enjoy a warm and cozy Thanksgiving with family, gorging yourself?

Zac Sunderland did not. The 16-year-old from Thousand Oaks was aboard Intrepid, his 36-foot sailboat, eating Costco spuds while sailing into a headwind off Madagascar, pointed toward Durban, South Africa.

If that isn't a sad story, two days later he turned 17, alone, not terribly far south of a red-hot pirate zone, celebrating by snacking on a just-add-water microwavable cake and opening presents stuffed in a box and stowed on his vessel long beforehand by family and friends.

"Zac is well and entering the danger zone as far as weather off of Africa," Marianne Sunderland, his mother, says. "So far he has had pretty light winds and so though he's not making great progress, he is happy to not be getting his butt kicked."

That is the best birthday gift of all, as the danger zone Marianne speaks of is notorious for cyclones beginning about this time of year.

Zac Sunderland signs autographs at the Grand Baie Yacht Club before embarking for Durban, South Africa.

Zac's attempt to become the youngest person to sail alone around the world began in June and he's finally past the halfway point, though the most challenging stretch lies just ahead, especially after Durban, when he must round the Cape of Good Hope.

It's been a costly and frightening adventure thus far, filled with long stretches of severe weather and one brief confrontation with possible pirates.

The following is a Thanksgiving Day passage from Zac's blog, written by Marianne:

"On behalf of Zac and the entire Sunderland family we thank you all for supporting and encouraging all of us in this endeavour. Zac's quest began as a grass roots effort by a small but growing number of local sailors, writers and photographers.

"If it had been solely up to our family to fund Zac's trip he may well have had to stop by now. It is amazing to realize that Zac's trip has been supported in many different ways by hundreds of individuals and small companies for nearly six months now!

"We are truely a blessed nation to live with such freedom and affluence and comfort. Great to take a day to stop and thank the God who gives us all good things!"

-- Pete Thomas

Photos: Zac Sunderland relaxes in Mauritius and signs autographs at the Grand Baie Yacht Club, for before embarking for Durban, South Africa. Credit: Richard Munisami