Concern for 16 year old solo sailor Abby Sunderland

Posted By on June 10, 2010

abbysunderland_i I’ve posted a couple of times on circumnavigators and in particular a couple solo sailors that are female. I followed and shared emails with Donna Lange a few years ago as she rounded the globe and have recently posted on Jessica Watson (Australian teen) who completed her circumnavigation and 16 year old Abby Sunderland of the United States. The last two have brought into question how young is too young – see ABC’s 20-20 June 4th.

I’ve also been following Abby a closely as she has been having heavy weather in the Indian Ocean. On the June 2nd she was hit hard and suffered some water rushing into the boat. I posted a comment that she seemed to be pressing her gear too hard and needed to shorten sail rather than pushing so hard. On Thursday, there have been reports that one of her EPIRB signal was received, indicating an emergency situation. According to a post to her blog (by team member) “ the signal had come from her manually activated EPIRB” rather than the one that goes off when it is in the water. Australian Search and Rescue have responded as are ships nearby … 40 hours away. Quantas will alson fly an Airbus over her position at first light on Friday (11 hours difference). There has been no communication on her radio or satellite phone so there is reason to be concerned.

Still, she is well prepared if there is a problem with her boat with a dry suit, survival suit, life raft, and ditch bag with emergency supplies. Also her boat, Wild Eyes, was built for heavy ocean conditions with 5 airtight bulkheads even with major hull damage and should remain upright so as long as there isn’t damage to her keel.

Recent news reports occasionally have a few details wrong, but about every news organization is covering the emergency.

From ABCNews story:

Sunderland’s father Laurence told ABC local radio he last spoke to his daughter at 4:00am today when he lost contact with her during the satellite phone call. An hour later American Search and Rescue authorities told him both his daughter’s emergency beacons (EPIRB) had been activated.

"She had quite a boisterous night at 60 knots, she was knocked down three times and radar was ripped off the boat, and she had an engine issue," he said.

"She definitely had her cage rattled last night, but after dealing with the engine issue and getting things up and running everything seemed to be fine.

"We initially thought that the signal was sent automatically from her water-activated EPIRB and that it had been activated during one of her knockdowns.


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