Zac Sunderland is the brave 16 year old Californian who is currently on a solo world circumnavigation, with the aim of becoming the youngest circumnavigator. Last week he left Darwin, and all was well as he made his slow way across the Indian Ocean - until 'something' happened.
The wind stayed steady all through the night and I was making good progress. The swell picked up to about 8 feet and I was back to the climbing up and surfing down motion. Around 11:30am I was sitting in the cockpit when I saw a boat about 4 miles away.
I took a look at my radar screen and didn't see anything. I took another look at the boat. We were heading parallel to each other and would pass well clear of each other. I went down below and switched on the VHF radio and tried to hail them on Channel 16 with no luck.
I went below and got my camera and got some footage of them but it was still hard to make out who or what they were because they were still about 3 miles off. I was sitting in the cockpit watching them and suddenly they changed course. At this new angle we would hit.
I moved the autopilot over a few degrees to get out of their path. As I did they changed course dead for me again. So I'm thinking, 'I've got a ship that doesn't show up on radar with no flags and no radio response, deliberately heading straight for me 150 miles off the coast of Indonesia, a place notorious for piracy.'
I went down below and called them on the radio again and again, finally hailing them using the words 'Securite' which is the word used to alert another boat that there is possible danger. Maritime law says boats are required to respond to this call. Still no answer.
I went up to the cockpit and saw the boat was closing in fast. I turned on the engine and slammed it into gear and altered course again so as to avoid a collision and get on a faster tack. I watched the boat which I could now see was a 60-70' long wooden fishing boat that looked about ready to break up it was so old. They altered course straight for me. Read on.