News of 16 year old Singlehanded Circumnavigator

Published 15 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Zac Sunderland – Intrepid – 25 July 2008

Update by David Morris, Meteorologist

Sixteen-year-old Zac Sunderland departed Marina del Rey, California, aboard Intrepid, his Islander 36, on Saturday 14th June 2008, on his attempt to become the youngest singlehanded circumnavigator.

The first leg to Oahu, Hawaii was hampered by light conditions and slow progress. Last minute engine issues, were solved by installing a new Yanmar 30, but the delayed departure meant that Zac now had Eastern Pacific tropical development breathing down his neck.

Tropical Storms, Boris and Cristina developed and headed toward Zac’s track, keeping me on my toes and ensuring more frequent forecast updates than usual, sent to Zac’s snail mail address. Cooler sea surface temperatures eventually weakened Cristina to a tropical depression, then a remnant low that passed harmlessly to the south. Boris developed into a Cat 1 hurricane but remained slow moving. Although Boris increased anxiety aboard Intrepid, the system behaved as models predicted and weakened whilst remaining a good distance to the east.

All eyes were also on a particularly vigorous summer cold front, that dug its way southward, weakening the North Pacific High and slackening trade wind pressure gradients for a few days. Zac had originally intended to sail directly to Majuro, Marshall Islands, but with a few issues to sort out, including running out of alcohol for his stove, he decided to spend a few days in the Ala Wai Boat Hbr, Oahu.

Intrepid departed Oahu on July 17th, with moderate to strong trade wind conditions for the first few days. Now further south, at around 14.2N 171W today, Zac has plenty of wind and more than his fair share of squalls to deal with thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Elida, sliding by.

Zac plans to catch his breath and re-provision in Majuro, then head south across the equator and into the SE Trades before heading SW then W for Port Moresby (PNG).

His aim is to make stops in Darwin and Cocos-Keeling, before heading for Mauritius and eventually Durban before the risk of an Indian Ocean cyclone increases through November.

Follow Zac’s progress here –

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