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Setting course for peril

July 11, 2009

Re "Teen sailor sees the world, sets course for home," Column One, July 6

Zac Sunderland should receive every accolade for his voyage and record-setting, but the litany of problems he had should not be taken as typical of a circumnavigation.

The bad weather he encountered was likely a result of his having to sail to meet a schedule.

When my family and I completed our almost seven-year circumnavigation, we did so without encountering sustained winds at sea of more than 35 knots. We waited for the right weather window or sat out hurricane and storm-prone months. Zac did not have this luxury of time.

Long-term cruising is much safer than living on land, and considerably more pleasant.

Laurie Pane



You make a most interesting comparison between circumnavigating sailors Zac Sunderland and Robin Lee Graham. Although the feat of solo around-the-world sailing has always been arduous, Zac's endeavor has not been the same as Graham's 1965 voyage.

Zac has been fortunate to have GPS, a satellite phone and computers that were not available in those earlier days. I wonder if Zac would complete the journey today with the same equipment used by Graham?

Deborah Hoyle

Palm Desert


After looking at your front page, I wondered whether there's a connection between two of the stories: Why can't the forlorn farmer walking through his parched Central California field benefit from the technology employed by Sunderland?

I'm referring to the fact that Sunderland's onboard water needs are supplied by a desalinization kit.

I realize that the young sailor might need only one gallon for every million that the farmer requires, but the underlying fact remains: No one need die for lack of water while floating on an ocean. Isn't it at least feasible to figure that a state that borders an ocean shouldn't have to shrivel up for lack of water?

It's the lack of imaginative, practical leadership that's holding us back.

John Argent

El Segundo

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