April 11, 2008

“Angels Don’t Always Travel by Air”

Before Snickers could board Pride of Aloha, he had to have a flea bath and haircut.

© 2008 Robby Coleman

Robby Coleman forwarded us the following update from Mark Bult, the crewmember from NCL’s Pride of Aloha cruise ship that offered to give Snickers, the little cocker spaniel abandoned by his owners on Fanning Island when their boat wrecked on a reef in December, a lift to Hawaii.

"After you left, Snickers didn’t know what to do. I sat down, talked to him, and let him come to me on his own terms. Within 15 minutes, he was walking into my lap giving me a hug. I think that he knew we were here to help him and that his time on Fanning Island was over. He just wanted a friend to give him a hug and reassurance.

Mark Bult, crewmember from NCL’s Pride of Aloha, bonded quickly with a shy Snickers.

© 2008 Robby Coleman

"He was a perfect rider on the tender. You could tell he has been at sea before. After the tender ride, we moved him into a temporary location aboard. He was so glad to be there!  We petted him, fed him real dog food (he likes it a lot), and tried to keep the visitors to a minimum. The time it takes to warm up to everyone has decreased with each person. He got moved up to deck 10 on the bridge so now he is living like a VIP with constant attention — and he loves it!

"Thank you so much for all of your help. Really, we could not have done this wonderful deed without your help. I now know that angels don’t always travel by air."

Now that Snickers is on his way to his new home, attention needs to be focused on Gulliver the parrot. It’s not money or lack of a new home that’s the problem in his case, it’s that international law prevents the illegal trafficking of endangered species. Since his legband (which was removed recently) had no numbers, it’s impossible to track his country of origin making his rescue seemingly impossible.

We have received word from Florence Hulihee, president of the Hawaii Aloha Parrot Association, that the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, an international animal rescue organization, has taken on Gulliver’s cause and are already mobilizing. For more on what they do, visit www.bestfriends.org.

Marina del Rey 16-Year-Old to Circumnavigate

At 16, Zac Sunderland hopes to become the youngest solo circumnavigator.

© Marianne Sunderland

Laurence and Marianne Sunderland of Marina del Rey report that their 16-year-old son Zac, who has 15,000 ocean miles to his credit, will set off next month from Southern California in an attempt to become the youngest person to circumnavigate singlehanded.

According to Sunderlands, the Guiness Book of World Records says that the current record is held by David Dicks, who completed his circumnavigation in ’96 at the age of 18 years and 41 days, thereby beating the record set by Brian Caldwell of Honolulu with his Contessa 26 Mai Vavau. Caldwell was 20 when he finished. Alas, the Guinness folks are a little behind the times, as Aussie Jesse Martin completed a circumnavigation at age 18 with the S&S 34 Lionheart. For what it’s worth, he did it non-stop.

Zac, whose first home was a Tradewinds 55, has been sailing all his life, including family adventures to Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and Mexico, the latter being a three-year cruise. The son of a shipwright, Zac is an A student, an outstanding player on the football team, and is working out constantly in preparation for the trip.


An Islander 36 has been acquired for the adventure, and has been undergoing a refit and reinforcements for bluewater sailing. According to the family, "the upgrades include all new heavy-duty running and standing rigging, chainplates, stanchions and lifelines, new keel bolts and a custom fiberglass hard dodger." The next phase will be yard time with all new thru-hulls and seacocks, and the reinforcement of key bulkheads. The final phase will be the installation and coordination of remaining, advanced electrical systems and electronics, alternate power source systems and watermaker.

The boat, initial repairs and reinforcements have cost over $40,000, which seems fairly reasonable. We certainly don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the family’s projection for the rest of the trip seems astronomical — $200,000! Sunderland already has a number of sponsors, but understandably is looking for more. For additional details, email Zac and his family.

The original youthful circumnavigator, of course, was Robin Lee Graham, who famously took off at age 16 aboard Dove, his Gladiator 24. But he took something like five years to finish the trip, doing the last legs aboard an Allied Mistress 33. The youngest female to sail around alone was Tania Aebi, who finished at age 21 aboard her Contessa 26 Varuna. Technically, however, neither Graham nor Aebi, who both fell in love on their trips, did it singlehandedly because they took others on very short legs. Love hits very hard during the teen years, and could be a major obstacle to Sunderland — or any other teenager — making it around alone.

Youngsters crossing oceans seems to be becoming more popular. In the last few years kids in their early teens have crossed the Atlantic singlehanded. Kids mature at very different ages, of course, but in general, we wonder if you think  such adventures should be encouraged or discouraged. No matter what, here’s to wishing that Zac’s voyage is safe, swift and enjoyable!

Will It Turn into a Race?

Further to the above report, annoucing that Zac Sunderland, 16, hopes to set a record as the youngest solo circumnavigator, we should point out that another 16-year-old, Josh Clark of Panama City, Panama, may attempt the same feat.

After cruising extensively with his parents for eight years, Josh found an abandoned Cal 32 in Panama, completely rebuilt her inside and out, and at last report was about  to jump off for French Polynesia. Who knows? Josh and Zac may end up in an unplanned race to the Marquesas — and on around the planet!

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of both boats.

2,965 Solo Miles in 20 Days for Moonduster

The six boats in the anchorage at Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas are dwarfed by the tall peaks. (Note to Jim Corenman of SailMail: we know that photos aren’t supposed to be sent on SailMail, so sorry about the 20 minutes even the reduced resolution version took on the system.)

© 2008 Wayne Meretsky

Wayne Meretsky of the Alameda-based S&S 47 Moonduster reports that on April 10 he finished his singlehanded passage from Punta Mita, Mexico, to Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. When he got there, he shared the anchorage with five other boats: Blue Plains Drifter, Jim and Tiffany Tindle’s Tayana 48 from Santa Cruz; Elusive, which is either Stephen and Wendy Bott’s J/44 from Seattle or Josh Clark’s Cal 32 from Panama City; Scarlett O’Hara, John and Renee Prentice’s Serendipity 43 from San Diego; Pacific Star, Horst Wolff and John Shryock’s IP 35 from San Francisco; and Just Do It, a German boat which arrived via the Beagle Channel.

Meretsky passed along some interesting information about his trip:

"Rhumbline, or shortest distance, from Punta Mita to his landfall — 2,725 miles.
Planned passage — 2,867 miles.
Actual miles sailed — 2,965 or 240 miles more than the rhumbline.
Duration — 20 days, give or take an hour or two.
Best day — 186.9 miles or an average of 7.8 knots.
Worst day — 100.1 miles or  4.2 knots.
Average miles per day — 148 or an average of 6.2 knots. It was my slowest passage ever. Where was the wind?
Boats seen since leaving the coast — 2.
Lightning seen — None.
Rain other than squalls — None.
Engine hours — 24.6, most of them enroute to Isla Clarion off the coast of Mexico.
Engine hours since leaving Clarion — just 7.2.
Estimated gallons of diesel used — 15.
Eggs eaten — 30. And to think Cool Hand Luke did 50 in a single seating!
Pounds of bacon — 2.
Pounds of brie — 1/2.
Grapefruit — One a day, and I still have five left.
Fish caught — Just one, a jack, right after leaving Punta Mita. I threw it back."

As for French Polynesia, Meretsky reports that the Gendarmerie closes at 11 a.m. and isn’t open on weekends at all. "It makes the Mexicans seem industrious," he says.

He used Polynesia Yacht Service for clearing in, which cost $504, but had a number of benefits. Fuel is reported to be over $8 per gallon, and was being rationed in Hiva Oa to 40 liters per boat — until two days ago when the supply ship showed up.

The Pardeys to Speak in Sausalito

If you miss Lin and Larry Pardey’s talks at Strictly Sail next weekend (click here for details), you’ll have a chance to catch their "Sixteen Ways to Keep Your Lover" seminar at the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center in Sausalito on April 24 at 7 p.m. Find out ways to make your cruising experience a shared one and how to keep the romance alive underway, and pick up the just-released 3rd edition of their Storm Tactics Handbook while you’re there. To order the $15 tickets, contact Mark Welther at (415) 332-3179.

Coming as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the America’s Cup saga, BMW Oracle Racing officially announced that a multihull build is underway in Anacortes, Washington.
After our March 24 ‘Lectronic Latitude story about the grim future for two pets abandoned by their American owners on Fanning Island after their boat wrecked on the atoll, we received a hopeful email from a dog and parrot lover in Nevada who wanted to save both animals.
A marine insurance industry professional in Southern California sent us an incident report from the 100-ft Northstar motoryacht Besame.