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Zac Sunderland, sailing alone around the world at 17, fails to phone home but is OK

March 5, 2009 |  8:04 am


Imagine yourself as the mother of a 17-year-old who for the last eight months has been sailing alone around the world and facing all sorts of threats, including piracy and menacing seas.

You maintain your sanity only through your daily conversations via the satellite phone.

Zac Sunderland, a Thousand Oaks adventurer who left Marina del Rey at age 16 last June, has made it a point to phone his mother and/or father at a specified time each day, to help ease their minds.

Zac did not call the other day,  nor did he arrive at St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic, on schedule.

This caused Marianne Sunderland to post this message Wednesday on her son's blog:

"There is a saying that says something like, 'No news is good news.' That is definitely not the case when you haven't heard from your son who was due in port hours ago but hasn't arrived. I normally would wait to post until he arrived, but just so you don't think that we have forgotten about you all -- here we are.

"We are not really worried about Zac because we know he is in calm seas and not yet that late. Yet, our ears are hyper-vigilant to the possible sound of the phone ringing and email is being checked more than regularly in the hopes of hearing that our boy is safe in port."

Marianne shared the good news Friday morning: Her son had arrived at St. Helena Yacht Club. He had not been able to get a phone signal and was late because of frustratingly light winds.

The mother is clearly relieved. In fact, she probably will collapse with relief when her son arrives back in Marina del Rey in a few months, completing his odyssey.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Zac Sunderland