June 15, 2024
Annapolis, US 81 F

The Abby Sunderland Saga Takes A Twist

As a sailing town, Annapolitans certainly have some connection with Abby Sunderland, the 16 year old who was trying to be the youngest person ever to do a non-stop, solo sail around the earth.

If you are not familiar with the saga, you can Google it.  But in a nutshell, she was in her boat, Wild Eyes, and ran into a storm in the South Indian Ocean. She lost communications, activated her emergency beacons and a search and rescue effort was started. She was spotted in short time and confirmed to be in good shape. She was ultimately rescued by a French fishing ship and is safely on board as of this writing.

Being a sailing town, we know how beautiful the water can be–but we also know how mean and unforgiving it can be as well. Abby’s parents are taking a lot of heat from the media and on the Internet for allowing her to pursue “her dream” of sailing around the world solo–as her brother had done a few years ago.

What are the thoughts of Annapolis and any sailors in Anne Arundel County?  Does a 16 year old have any business sailing around the world alone? Were the parents negligent in not demanding a boat follow her efforts?

After it was known that she was safe, her parents took to her blog. While they were certainly relieved and happy, one sentence stood out:

We are not certain what will happen to Wild Eyes at this time. It is highly unlikely that she will be able to be saved.

While no one but the parents are in their shoes, this seems like the last concern any parent would have when their 16 year old daughter was just plucked from the treacherous South Indian Ocean.

Abby herself followed up with a blog post (presumably from the French fishing vessel) to somewhat lambaste the media for having an interest now–and not when she was embarking on the voyage. She also seemed upset that people would feel that her age and maturity should have played a part in a decision to let her make the sail–or not.  And again, a strange comment after having nearly lost her life:

I keep hitting the wrong keys and am still trying to get over the fact that I will never see my Wild Eyes again. So Ill write more later.

Once again, there is the concern about the boat, Wild Eyes.  And in a surprising move, it appears that the family has established a website seeking donations to salvage the boat and have it brought back to Marina del Rey, California. As to the cost of the rescue itself, reports have indicated that the Qantas airbus which spotted Abby was chartered at a cost of 200,000 AUD ($170,000 USD) which will be absorbed by the Australian rescue organization which spearheaded the efforts.

Certain aspects of this saga are beginning to sound similar to those of  Richard Heene and “Balloon Boy.” What do you think?

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