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Interview: Zachary Shane Orion Lough of SailPanache.com Pt. 1

If you can think back that far, you might have read that I am starting a series of interviews with people I believe are doing interesting things. My first (I’ve done others in the past) is with Zachary Lough of SailPanache.com who is currently in the midst of traveling by boat, examining nature, and documenting the whole process. I finally caught up with him at port on a short rest.  This is part one of a two part interview.

Brendan McGarry: Who are you? Not just your name, but what guides you through life? I’m starting off with deep questions.

Zachary Shane Orion Lough: My name is Zachary Shane Orion Lough (I’m not sure why I have so many names). I am a 26-year-old who has bypassed the traditional career path for the opportunity to create my own. I am on a sailing adventure aboard my sailboat Panache. I document my travels with photography, writing and short videos. I hope that my adventures inspire people and eventually transform into a career. As for a guiding force, that would have to be capturing the unknown. Pretty vague, but I think that answer is equally as deep.

BM: For those who don’t know, explain to us what SailPanache.com is all about.

ZSOL: SailPanache is my platform for sharing my journey. The source for getting the details about my trip. Not only the simple facts of where and when, but my personal journey getting places, mentally and physically. My goal is to have the viewer experience the places as I do. It’s a very media-rich website that I hope gives a decent picture of where I have been and how it affected me.

My sailboat is named Panache. She is a small Catalina 30 built in 1976. The previous owner took her to Mexico twice, through the South Pacific, and all the way to Australia. I plan to follow in his footsteps.

BM: Where are you currently in your travels?

ZSOL: Costa del Sol, El Salvador. It’s hot here. El Salvador has provided a love hate relationship with the heat; it’s great by the pool, but miserable when you are working outside. My blood is now permanently hot, and 60 degrees feels like a freezer.

BM: Thus far, what is your favorite experience? What are you most looking forward to?

ZSOL: My favorite experience has to be making my first solo sailing trip from Manzanillo to Zihuatanejo. It took several days and was a testing ground for larger single-handed passages. I am now on the eve of sailing solo to the South Pacific, specifically Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas. This trip is definitely something I have been looking forward to for as long as I knew what sailing was. Crossing the Pacific is one of the greatest achievements for a sailor. It’s epic. I am excited and terrified. This is a true adventure, and one I can’t wait to share via SailPanache.com.

BM: What basic challenges do you face in your travels?

ZSOL: While sailing solo along the coast, my biggest challenge was when to go to bed and for how long. Technically you are always supposed to have someone on watch. Being alone, I have to go to bed sometime! The Mexican coast is filled with fishing boats that don’t display navigation lights, long lines that drift in your way, and gill nets that can foul your prop. Even curious whales can be a potential danger! Add night to the equation and you can imagine how much stressful falling asleep can be. I have radar and other tools to help me see in the dark, but even that can’t help you sometimes. Sailing coastal routes solo is exhausting, so I decided to start sailing farther offshore (30ish miles). This helped cut down on the traffic, and I got more sleep.

Weather is also a huge concern. If you have no wind, you go nowhere. My engine is small, and I carry little fuel, so if I have no wind, I typically don’t cover much ground. If you encounter a gale and have too much wind, you can rip your sails or worse. It’s all about finding the right amount of sail area for the given wind conditions and acting accordingly when they change. I recently experienced hurricane force winds (80+ miles per hour) here in El Salvador and it was terrifying. A 36’ J-Boat dragged anchor and was totaled when it smashed against a concrete pier. The weather can be your best friend and greatest opponent. Praying to Poseidon is recommended.

As for the things I can control, managing Panache’s water and food supply can be a challenge. I need to make sure I have enough and that I end up in places where I can replenish. For my Pacific crossing, I am carrying 75 gallons of water and enough rice and beans to fart all the way to Australia. My diet will be extremely boring, but I hope to catch fish to spice things up.

I just listed some specific challenges above, but ultimately sailing as a form of travel is one big challenge. It makes simple tasks, like getting from point A to point B, an adventure. But that’s part of what makes it so great!

BM: Nature is obviously a big thing in your life. Besides simply needing to have it, like myself, how do you plan to incorporate it into your professional life?

ZSOL: I want to have an unequivocal adventure through nature. I have come to the conclusion that I can only find that by crossing an ocean. I’m not sure If I will experience sensory deprivation or sensory overload. On one end, I will be cutting technology and social contact almost completely out of my life, and at the other end I will be adding the constant liveliness of the expansive ocean and everything it has to offer. I believe each experience is equally stimulating, but I am curious to see how total immersion will affect me. This little experiment will be available on SailPanache.com, and I hope readers will get curious and excited about that immersion. My goal isn’t to encourage people to drop everything, turn into a Luddite and tromp into the forest or sail out into an ocean. I simply want subscribers to receive their nature “fix,” which I believe encourages respect.

This underlying message is not how I present SailPanache.com. I am meticulously documenting my trip in hopes that I can use the site as a platform to slingshot myself into photojournalism/writing/video dude.

(BM: hey, me too!)

I’m trying to make a career for myself, but at the same time, I still want my respect for nature to be a prominent theme. Traveling through Mexico, and especially El Salvador, there is a huge lack of respect for the natural world. It’s frustrating and in some indirect way I think my website helps.

Stay tuned for part two shortly!


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