For solo sailor, it’s steady as she goes

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Zac Sunderland, who left California’s Marina Del Rey June 14 aboard Intrepid, his 1972 Islander 36 sailboat, reached another milestone in his attempt to become the youngest solo circumnavigator.

The 16-year-old sailor reached Darwin,Australia, on Sept. 17 and is taking on supplies and making necessary repairs to the boat, according to his blog (www.zacsunderland.com).

“It’s good to start walking again. Feels weird, but it’s good,” he told Sail-World.com.

Sunderland has previously put in at ports in Hawaii and the Marshall Islands, where he’s received warm welcomes. His father, Laurence, shipwright and owner of Sunderland’s Yacht Management in Marina Del Rey, has flown out to meet his son at every location so far, according to the blog. In Darwin, father and son worked together to prepare for the next leg of the journey — the Indian Ocean — by caulking the leaking areas, replacing worn lines, putting another coat of antifoulant paint, and fixing a faulty bilge pump.

“The squalls around the equator are pretty crazy. I had good 40-knot squalls and stuff and big seas,” says Sunderland in the Sail-World report. “You don’t really have time to be scared out there, it’s more like just dealing with it. If you get scared, you mess up.”

Sunderland says he thinks he can complete the circumnavigation by April 2009. Sunderland and Intrepid are scheduled to head back out to sea by 4 p.m. today, bound for Africa, according to the blog.

— Elizabeth Ellis