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Pirates are long in his wake, but Zac Sunderland's wisdom teeth are killing him

April 10, 2009 | 12:01 pm

Zac edney-1

It has been months since Zac Sunderland's square-off with what he perceived to be pirates off eastern Africa. Now the 17-year-old from Thousand Oaks, who is trying to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, is near the equator in the south Atlantic dealing with another troublesome issue: wisdom teeth.

"I actually went to the dentist over Christmastime and had no problems but they did say that my wisdom teeth should come out within the next six months," Zac wrote on his blog. "Now one of them is pressing on my back molar and feels like it is on fire. I hope they have some good dentists in Grenada!"

It's the last thing the intrepid sailor needs. Zac, aboard a 36-foot Islander named Intrepid, is traveling with a sense of urgency. He left Marina del Rey last June and needs to get through the Panama Canal and up into California waters before the Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins in late May. Zac's current leg from St. Helena to Grenada is 4,278 miles. His final two legs are 1,300 miles to Colon, Panama, and 2,970 miles to California. 

An extended stay at St. Helena, where repairs were frustratingly time consuming, is what set him back. But now the wind gods are at his side, whisking him along. Zac reports: "I'm still making good progress toward the equator although the squalls have picked up quite a bit. The intensity is not too bad. Most are only 20-25 knots. I've been able to use them my advantage which has been making a pretty boring passage much more interesting.... I'm averaging about 120 miles a day right now. If I am able to keep up this speed I should be crossing the equator in about three days."

By then perhaps the pain in his mouth will have subsided.

--Pete Thomas

Photo of Zac courtesy of Jen Edney