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Zac Sunderland nears Panama as around-the-world journey winds down

May 12, 2009 | 10:05 am

Zac Sunderland with new friends Joseph and Mary in Granada.

My guess is that Zac Sunderland, 17, who is making friends all over the world as he sails around the planet on his 36-foot boat, will receive a haircut at some point before cruising into his home port in Marina del Rey in a few weeks.

That's because the adventurer from Thousand Oaks (pictured, at center) will receive a hearty greeting from fans and media after becoming either the youngest person or the youngest American to sail alone around the world. (England's Mike Perham, who is slightly younger than Zac, is sailing around the world aboard a longer and faster racing yacht, and is presently off New Zealand.)

Zac, who left Marina del Rey last June, recently crossed the Atlantic (4,728 miles) and has departed Grenada in the Caribbean. He's sailing toward Panama and from there will begin an uphill journey to Southern California that will span 2,970 miles. He needs to keep moving and will require the good graces of Mother Nature if he's to succeed because the hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific begins in less than three weeks.

Zac pulling out of St. George's Bay, en route to Panama.

But he's plodding forth aboard the Intrepid with his usual upbeat attitude, relishing stops in exotic ports. Of his latest stop, he wrote in his blog: "The people of Grenada have to be one of the highlights of my stay there for sure. I am always amazed by the kindness and generosity of total strangers where ever I go."

That blog post was titled, "Flying along." Here's hoping for more such titled posts and for a delayed start to the hurricane season.

-- Pete Thomas

Photos: Zac Sunderland, top, with new friends Joseph and Mary in Granada, and Zac pulling out of St. George's Bay, en route to Panama. Courtesy of Zac Sunderland