July 17, 2009

Hundreds Welcome Solo Circumnavigator

After so many months alone on the ocean, it must have been surreal for Zac to find himself surrounded by an armada of well-wishers.

© Rich Roberts

In a scene reminiscent of Sir Francis Chichester’s homecoming to England in 1967, hundreds of well-wishers and media staff were on the scene yesterday morning when 17-year-old Zac Sunderland sailed in to his Marina del Rey homeport aboard Intrepid, thus offically becoming the youngest solo sailor ever to round the planet. "It was the biggest reception for the finish of a sailboat event I’ve ever seen on the West Coast," says freelance journalist Rich Roberts. Every local and network TV station was represented, in addition to reporters from the BBC and several local radio stations.

The oldest of seven children, Zac has become a role model for thousands of kids who’ve been following his route.

© Rich Roberts

In an era when his countrymen are in dire need of some uplifting news, Zac would seem to be the perfect poster boy for classic American ‘can-do’ spirit. Before setting out last June 14, he and his father Laurence, a professional shipwright, thoroughly refurbished Zac’s vintage Islander 36 sloop, fitting her out with all sorts of modern navigation and communications gear. Although the campaign was partially supported by a long list of sponsors, the effort was primarily family-funded. In fact, Zac reportedly bought the hull with his life savings.

The conquering hero returns to a media frenzy. Reporters for local, national and international media organizations covered Zac’s historic homecoming.

© Rich Roberts

Zac’s route loosely followed the track of Southern California teenager Robin Lee Graham, who solo circumnavigated during the 1960’s aboard Dove. They were both 16 when they set out and both made stops along the way. But unlike Graham, Zac was determined to get around the course as quickly as possible — and he apparently avoided falling in love, as Graham did. Because Graham’s girlfriend accompanied him on one leg of his trip, there will always be an asterisk next to his feat in the record books.

That said, asterisks and footnotes run rampant on lists of sailing records, especially when it comes to solo circumnavigations. In this instance, mainstream news reporters seem to be struggling to get the facts straight as to whose record Zac actually broke. Australian Jesse Martin, who returned home at 18, still holds the record as the youngest to go around nonstop and unassisted via the ‘great capes’. David Dicks, another Aussie, was a few weeks younger than Martin when he returned home in pursuit of Martin’s title, but was disqualified because he accepted a repair part en route. Zac Sunderland never intended to break the nonstop, unassisted record, nor round the great capes. But the simple fact is he’s the youngest person to solo circumnavigate by any route. Period. Younger than Martin, younger than Dicks, younger than Graham, Brian Caldwell, Tania Aebi, John Guzzwell and all the rest. And it is that enormous accomplishment that we celebrate today. So three cheers for Zac Sunderland — and welcome home!

Sausalito Brokers Arrested for Embezzlement

Longtime Sausalito yacht brokers Teresa and Robert ‘Clay’ Prescott of Anchorage Brokers and Consultants, better known as ABC Yachts, were arrested yesterday on multiple charges of embezzlement from victims in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Bail was set at $500,000 each.

According to a Sausalito Police press release, the embezzlement amount is currently more than a quarter million dollars, and will likely rise as other victims come forward. Police encourage others who may have been victimized, or have information pertinent to the case, to call detectives at (415) 289-4118.

Escorts Needed for Mexican Beauty

Thousands of visitors have toured Cuauhtemoc this week. If you think she looks good here, wait till you see her with all her rags flying.

© 2009 Jeff Berman

Murphy’s Law of tall ship arrivals dictates that whenever a truly spectacular square-rigger arrives at the Golden Gate there will be dense fog and no wind — especially if we’ve encouraged local sailors to sail out and witness the spectacle. 

But Murphy must have been asleep at the switch last Saturday, because conditions for the arrival of the 270-ft Mexican Navy ship Cuauhtemoc could not have been more perfect: clear blue skies, flat water and a light breeze from astern. Trouble was, only a handful of local sailors were on hand to see her sail in.

Last night, Encinal YC members practiced a little international diplomacy by hosting a group of Cuauhtemoc sailors at their weekly Junior Sailing Program BBQ.

© 2009 Ariane Paul

The good news, though, is that you’ll have another chance to sail in her shadow tomorrow (Saturday) when she departs her Pier 27 berth at 10:00 a.m. and sets sail for Acapulco. Don’t forget your camera, and make sure you’ve got fresh batteries, as tallships such as this are a snapshooters dream.

Taking Pets to Mexico

"We’re entry #47 in this fall’s Baja Ha-Ha and we intend to take our two dogs," writes David Bloom of the Long Beach-based Vector 39 Thee Amazing Grace. "We only know that paperwork/documentation must be done within 30 days of our arrival in Mexico. We were hoping to find more specifics in the Ha-Ha literature, but there was nothing. Can you provide the essential information needed for bringing doggies into Mexico?"

Since David clearly found a gap in our printed information, here’s the poop (excuse the terrible pun): Mexico is known to be very dog and cat friendly. The most you’ll be asked for are a pet health certificate issued by a vet not more than 72 hours before the animal enters Mexico and a current vaccination certificate. But you might not even be asked for those.

Finding well-fitting UV shades for Ginger will probably be more of a hassle than getting the proper paperwork for taking her to Mexico.

latitude/Andy
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Not once during the previous 15 Ha-Ha’s have we heard of anyone having trouble bringing their dog or cat across the border — and there have been plenty. "I don’t think Mexico really cares too much," said Chris Frost, owner of Downwind Marine in San Diego. "The hardest part is getting the animal back across the border." Indeed, the U.S. is much more strict about checking documentation, so hold on to those papers for your return trip. Although not required, it’s a good idea to make sure your pet has some form of ID, whether on its collar or in the form of an implanted microchip. And if you’re planning to sail with Polly the Parrot or Jake the Snake, you’ll have a lot more legwork in front of you.

For more info on sailing with your pets, check out Diana Jessie’s Cruising with Your Four-Footed Friends, which gives practical advice for cruising with dogs and cats, and the recently released pet health manual Where There is No Pet Doctor by David W. LaVigne, DVM (both available on Amazon).

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