Around the World at 16 - Alone?!
Blog, Aminah Ortiz
Jun 15, 2010
Sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland, from Thousand Oaks, California, went MIA on the high seas after going on a sixth month trip around the world. Her goal was to become the youngest sailor to ever sail around the world solo. She originally planned to make no stops, but after her autopilot failed she reluctantly abandoned that little bit.
Abby was last heard from while she was in the Indian Ocean, telling her parents about the 30-foot swells she was encountering, but was calm.
Lots of criticism was thrown at the parents both before and after their daughter’s disappearance. Many people know that the waters of the South Indian Ocean are hostile and unforgiving, and that the storms make that area the toughest region to sail.
Around the world governments were sending planes and ships to look for Sunderland, whose emergency beacons gave her position. Her parents were sure that her boat was still afloat, because another emergency beacon would’ve been automatically activated if the boat was deeper than 15 feet.
Luckily, thanks to the quick response of her land-based team and her emergency beacons, Abby was found in the least amount of time possible, and is safe aboard the Ile de la Reunion.
I’m sure Abby is going through a lot right now, what with just being rescued from a freakishly violent storm with her boat, Wild Eyes, irrepairable. Still, had to have known that this was a possibility. It’s not really a surprise that she’s on a rescue boat now.
Abby was enduring high swells, and her sails reportedly touched the water. As soon as she went off the radar, she activated her emergency beacons. Several boats from the nearest coast – over 400 miles away – raced to rescue her.
The sixteen year old was found safe, still afloat, on Friday, June 11th. Her boat wasn’t waterlogged, but was definitely damaged. After being spotted by an Australian rescue boat, she was taken to an island named
When she went missing, Abby was battling winds of 60 knots and waves of 25 – 30 feet. She, and her boat, was “knocked down” several times, referring to her sails touching the water.
Her father told the press that she would not be resuming her trip. She last updated on her blog that she was still aboard the Ile de la Reunion, the ship that rescued her.
Sunderland is thinking of writing a book about the adventures she endured, but knows that her adventures aren’t over. To get home she’ll be going first to a small island named Kerguelen, where she’ll stay for ten days until she takes a boat to Madagascar, and from there she’ll make her way home.
Like I said before, her father said Abby wont be trying her trip again. When I first read the article that she was missing, I couldn’t help but wondering “ Why on earth would her parents allow her to risk her life for a short bit of fame?”
I still feel that they shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about their daughter’s dangerous attempt. Their son, Abby’s 17-year-old older brother, had also done the trip (though successfully) the year before. Could this have made her parents partially blind to what may happen to their child? Yeah, maybe.
I really want to blame them for her scary disappearance, I do. But if my son had made it around the world safely, I’d be pretty confident that my daughter would be able to do the same, especially if she had prepared for it for as long Abby had.
Abby should try again. Although her parents had a serious lapse in judgment, she’d proved herself to be able to go that far, and if she left again in July or August, she’d catch the Indian Ocean in the summer, when the waters aren’t as bad. Now that she’d had a taste of almost getting her prized title, I’m sure she’s not going to give up her dream so easily.
I’m just hoping she does get home safely, and can complete her dream before it’s too late.
-- Aminah Ortiz
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