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Archive for Sunday, June 13, 2010

Teen sailor healthy after ‘crazy’ experience

June 13, 2010

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— A California teenager who spent three days adrift on the turbulent Indian Ocean described her ordeal as “crazy” as she started a long journey home aboard a French fishing boat that rescued her Saturday from her crippled sailboat.

Abby Sunderland was bumped and bruised but otherwise healthy, her parents said after hearing from the 16-year-old in a 20-minute phone call to their home northwest of Los Angeles.

“She sounded tired, a little bit small in her voice, but she was able to make jokes and she was looking forward to getting some sleep,” her mother, Marianne Sunderland, told reporters outside the family home.

Her mother, who is close to giving birth to a boy, said her daughter joked about her ordeal affecting the baby and also talked about plans for the next school year.

The young sailor continued to blog after being rescued more than 2,000 miles west of Australia two days after a wave broke the mast of her boat, Wild Eyes, satellite phone communication was lost and she set off emergency beacons.

“Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best,” she wrote Saturday morning from “a great big fishing boat headed I am not exactly sure where.” She will spend more than a week traveling to Reunion Island, a French territory east of Madagascar.

“The long and the short of it is, well, one long wave, and one short mast,” she wrote.

She dismissed criticism that she was too young to undertake an attempt to sail around the world by herself.

“As for age, since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?” she wrote.

Her father, Laurence Sunderland, a boat builder who teaches sailing, said his daughter had thousands of miles of solo sailing experience before she set out and he had scrutinized her skills.

“This was not a flippant decision,” he said. “Abigail’s been raised on the ocean all her life. She’s lived over half her life on yachts. ... This is like second nature to Abigail.”

Laurence Sunderland said the team of experts that worked on Wild Eyes and the circumnavigation project were “second to none.”

He said his daughter desired to sail solo around the world since she was 13 but he considered her “not fit” at that age or 14, when she was already helming by herself.

“And I did a lot of things to dissuade her actually by showing her the ferocity of the ocean around here ... taking yachts in very adverse conditions and to see what her mettle was made of,” he said.

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