Around the world journey winds down

  • 22/05/2009 02:00
  • 22/05/2009 02:00
PANAMA. Seventeen year old Zac Sunderland will soon become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world alone by sailboat, after hav...

PANAMA. Seventeen year old Zac Sunderland will soon become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world alone by sailboat, after having cross the Panama Canal and embarking on the final leg of his around-the-world quest, which will take him to the Galapagos Islands and then end back where he started, on the shores of his native California.

On June 14, 2008 Sunderland set sail from Marina Del Rey, California in his 36-foot long sailboat Intrepid to circumnavigate the globe.

Zac is a Southern Californian attempting to break the youngest person to sail solo around the world record currently held by Australian David Dicks.

With $6000, all of his savings, he bought a 36' Islander and with the assistance of his shipwright father retrofitted it for the circumnavigation trip.

Throughout his journey the teenager passed through the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Ocean, aided only by satellite telephone and a computer with Internet access.

Traveling by himself, he has already toured the coasts of Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia, the Mauritius Islands, Madagascar, the Cape of Good Hope, the Caribbean, and now the Panama Canal.

If successful, Sunderland will be the youngest American sailor since 1965 to complete a solo global circumnavigation.

According to his blog, Zac planned a maximum of 18 months for this voyage, studying on board to finish high school education during the 40,000 miles journey.

Sunderland has expressed hopes to write a book and record videos or produce a documentary on his voyage once his trip is completed.

The Intrepid passed through the Panama Canal on Monday, May 18, where Zac was accompanied by his father Laurence. On the Atlantic coast, they arranged to acquire the extra lines (ropes) and tires needed for the transit starting at the Gatun Locks.

After transiting the Gatun Locks, Intrepid anchored in Gatun Lake for the evening.

A canal pilot was assigned by the Panama Canal Authority on board Intrepid who, per standard procedures, did not drive the boat but told Zac where to go and how fast. There were also 4 line handlers on the boat.

A Panama Canal Authority web cam covered the passage through both locks and was streamed online, allowing his friends and family to follow his trajectory. A copy of the transit is posted on Zac's site (

The Intrepid carried a banner on the bow, a sign that Sunderland father made to commemorate his wedding anniversary.

After the passage father and son headed to Flamenco Marina, where they were set to rest for a few days. While in Panama, Sunderland was invited to a tour of the city by the Tourism Ministry. He has also been busy with some photo ops for sponsors and grocery shopping for the rest of his journey.

Sunderland currently faces competition from 17-year-old Mike Perham, who is also bidding for the title of youngest person to sail single-handed around the world.

Although Perham’s initial plans were to round Cape Horn, lately he has been considering making his circumnavigation via the Panama Canal, depending on the weather around the Horn.

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