Thursday, June 10, 2010

Abby Sunderland Lost At Sea


I don't know if you have been keeping up with all the teenagers trying to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, but there are a few that have captured my attention. I always think back to when I was 16, which is Abby Sunderland's age and I could barely be trusted to fill the car with gas when I borrowed it, let alone driving it around the world.

According to ABC News, a short time ago, two of Abby's distress beacons were activated. She had been off the coast of Madagascar in 25 foot waves and 40 mile per hour winds. The beacons are designed to activate when a person is in a life raft or in the water. The good news is they were supposedly manually activated rather than automatically.

During the night her sail had touched the water twice which means she was sideways. 16 years old? Alone in the ocean? How young is too young?

56 comments:

Unknown said...

Oh dear God. As much as I admire these kids for being so adventurous, I think this solo sailing this just begs for tragedy. I hope that adorable girl is okay.

Shegundala said...

I don't admire these kids at all. Everyone wants to be famous, like that kid who climbed Everest at 14. Where are the parents? Why don't the parents try living their own lives and stop trying to be 'special' through their kids. Sometimes being a parent means saying, "NO. You cannot do something dangerous."

Race said...

oh no!

Daveb said...

I hope this does appear insensitive, since I am fervently praying that she will be found OK, but I think any parent that sends a sixteen year old sailing around the world alone should be charged with child abuse.

captivagrl said...

For some reason I always imagined that they were followed with a crew in another boat.

Jenny said...

It's a dangerous voyage for an adult. I'm very much against allowing children to attempt anything dangerous, no matter how skilled they are. They will have lifetimes as adults to risk death, but hopefully with more experience and better judgement.

mikey said...

I'm with you Daveb! My children are now old enough to do something like that without my permission. When you are 16 you need permission to do stuff like that, and they would not have gotten it from me.

Unknown said...

Shegundala - I think you misunderstood me. I like that the kid has a sense of adventure and wants to accomplish something, but you are correct in there is no way in Hell that I would allow my kids to do this. Way too dangerous. It's a shame all of these reality whores have made our kids value media attention rather than true accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Poor little girl. If she's alive, she has to be so terrified.

lmnop123 said...

Where are her parents and what do they have to say for themselves now that she's missing?

jagerlilly said...

Way too young. Where's CPS?

Drcocks said...

This is so sad, I watched this episode of 20/20 last week and I was stunned at the parents allowing their children to do such "grown up" type of things at such a young age. I remember thinking, oh my, I hope someone doesn't get killed. And the parents spewing so much bs to justify it when you damn well it is mostly for the parents benefit. Say your prayers for this little girl.

Shegundala said...

And when they find her body - IF they find her body - the parents will spout the usual tripe: "She died doing what she loved!" They should be thrown in jail for child neglect.

mooshki said...

Her older brother also soloed around the world, so it makes me wonder even more about the parents. Also, she was warned that it was bad timing because of storm season, so it's clear the motivation was to set a record. That's the worst part for me - it wasn't just dangerous, it was reckless.

mooshki said...

But I hope they find her and she's okay. She has a survival suit, so there's still hope.

Jillian S. said...

Wow, I thought for sure a crew on another boat followed them. Are 16 yr olds really legally allowed to drive boats without an adult on board?

I highly doubt the parents pushed her to do this so they could feel special. Wasn't a great decision on their part, but maybe the kid had a lot of experience and seemed really mature or just cried and begged until they gave in. I'm sure they have enough guilt now that their kid is most likely shark bait.

mygeorgie said...

My 16 y/o needs to be reminded to do homework, get the hell off facebook and thinks popping a piece of gum is the same as brushing your teeth. I can't imagine any teen wise enough to conquer raging oceans, alone!

Reese said...

I've been a sailor my whole life; it is INSANE for a 16 year old girl to attempt sailing around the world alone. Sailing is a very physical sport; this is a petite girl who doesn't have that much in the way of upper body strength. I'm thin as well, and I'd never have the strength to handle a boat in 25 foot waves. Sending her off on this "adventure" was like applauding a suicide attempt. Her parents deserve prosecution for child endangerment for allowing her to do this. The truly sad thing is the poor girl is likely already dead and her body unlikely to ever be found.

*girl said...

What ever happened to getting drunk and letting your boyfriend get to second, maaaaybe third base at 16? That always felt pretty adventurous to me.

My heart breaks for this. 16 is just too young to risk your life.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't let my kid do this, but I'm not on the bandwagon at blaming the parents. I'm sure that they knew the dangers, and will have to come to terms with this, if she is not found alive.

It also depends on what type of 16 y/o she is. I have always been more mature and emotionally developed than my peers in school. Always.

__-__=__ said...

When I was 16 I would have rather died at sea than lived with my parents one more minute. That said I don't think either of the pictures here portray a happy person. I can see the fear in her eyes. Or I'm delusional. Take your pick.

chihuahuense said...

I agree that different kids can do different things at different ages. I know some men that couldn't take care of themselves if their life depended on it.

I know other kids that are homeless and by themselves, yet still seem to make it--and not just eke by, they really do well for themselves. Personal fortitude should not be underestimated.

Although I have never been a sailor, I can see why Reese said what she did. I, too, think this was a suicide mission just based on physical strength.

MnGddess said...

My daughter is sixteen, and at that age they either don't want to do anything but text or they want to do really outrageous things. I'm freaked out she will be getting her drivers license soon!! Shame on the parents for allowing this. IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO!!

If this child turns up dead I hope the parents realize that by allowing this they, in essence, murdered her by neglect.

Syd said...

I thought there were boats riding alongside her.

bionic bunny! said...

i'm crushed to hear this, but the fact that her beacons were set off manually is very good news. i've been a sailor all my life, too, and our dream was to retire and live aboard, 'til my body deceived me.
but her story is not new.
robin lee graham tried to accomplish the same thing in 1965 on the 24' sloop "dove". yeah, i did a high school term paper on he and his voyage, i still have it. he didn't have the advantages (neither did the coast guard) available to him that there are now. he was featured in natl. geographic, world-wide news stories, and was hailed as a hero.
anyway, i only say that to note that times change, yet stay the same. i hope to God they find her okay, i have faith they will *crossing fingers*
also, why was her sail still up under those conditions? any sailor knows to drop sail in weather like that (of course, she COULD have lost her mast, but a 35 knot wind shouldn't do that). as i said, though, a manual alarm means she wasn't swept overboard and lost.

Elsie said...

This reminds me of a 7 or 8 year old who tried to fly solo - maybe sometime in the early to mid 90's - and she crashed on takeoff. Anyone remember what I am talking about?

__-__=__ said...

Check out Sailing Anarchy here: http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?showtopic=102689&st=2000

Post #2014 is from someone who was on the calls with her. She has a chance and we all need to wish her the best!

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Elsie - I remember that, and people were saying things like, "she died doing what she loved doing," and I was thinking, "she died screaming and terrified, what a tragic waste."

I am very sorry for this poor girl, I hope she will be found okay. My cousin - an experienced sailor and swimmer - recently drowned due to hypothermia and hasn't been found in almost two weeks. I pray this young girl is okay and found alive.

ellie said...

I do, Elsie. The 7 year old pilot, her father, and the flight instructor were killed on take-off in Wyoming. She was trying to become the youngest to fly coast to coast. Of course, the mother said, she died doing what she loved. Hope this is not a repeat with Abby. (the weather was also a factor in the 7 year olds crash.) These totally preventable deaths are too horrible for words. Thoughts and prayers for Abby.

Meg said...

@Elsie-Holy cow, never heard that story. Wow.

@Little Miss Smoke & Mirrors - I'm sorry to hear about your cousin. That is awful.

SJ said...

There is flat out no way I would ever permit my (future) kids to do something like this. Never. Even assuming the kid is talented, skilled, experienced and likely to succeed -- and even if the kid wants it more than anything -- is it really worth even a small risk of your child's death or serious injury. No, no, no. I don't think I'd allow it even with an adult sitting next to her in the sailboat.

janele said...

The 7-year-old girl who was killed during her flight was Jessica Dubroff.

I also read that Abby Sunderland's dad is in the business of making custom boats. Sure hope the dad isn't using his own daughter for publicity. Definitely not kid-proof.

Reese said...

Abby's older brother did the around-the-world-alone trip last year; I read the ESPN magazine cover story about his trip. Not only did he have numerous mechanical failures/problems, he also had some very close encounters with pirates. He had various weapons, including guns, on board. I was pretty horrified by his story; I cannot fathom a girl doing this. As I mentioned previously, sailing requires a lot of physical strength and stamina; even if this girl had the build and strength of Serena Williams I'd not be convinced she could do this. I've been in 25' waves on a 55' yacht (below decks; not crewing) and it was scary. This girl is on a boat half that size and trying to do it all herself. Totally, totally crazy.

Very sorry to hear about your cousin, Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors. The ocean has so many awful ways to end life; all of them painful and terrifying.

blondegossip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blondegossip said...

1st priority her safety/rescue.

2nd priority investigation into parents for any undue influence/fameseeking/etc.

All kids, their abilities, their maturity, are different. If her parents pushed her to set the record & she doesn't survive, they will have to live with their guilt, a greater punishment, I would assume, than any CPS/court system could dole out.

It is a very interesting question though-how much is too much? Personally, I wish my parents had pushed me further to do something athletic when I was young instead of being overprotective to the point of emotional abuse. (Mom terrified I'd die if I left her line of sight-consequently, they flat out refused to let me do the one thing I wanted to do-be on the swim team.-just one example) On the other hand, one must question the parents who push for these extreme adventures-do they really look at the risks and make an informed decision?

Btw, just read on abcnews.com that the mom is pregnant, due at the end of the month.

Pookie said...

wtHELL kind of parent signs off on this?

i hope this young lady is alive and found soon.

Sorka8 said...

I don't care how much a kid could beg or cry about wanting to break a record to go and do something that could still kill the most exprerienced. THIS IS CHILD ENDANGERMENT!. WhY doesn't the coast guard stop a boat like this and then arrest the parents?

I remember that little 7 yr old who died . She should never been allowed to learn to fly at all below a good legal age. Again, why aren't the parents arrested?

I pray this little girl is alright.

Sinjin said...

blondegossip: Oh Boy!; Only 14 more years for her next little sailor!
What a total lack of intelligent decisions all around.

(*rolls eyes and shakes head)

nancer said...

her parents are only a shade better than the lohans in my book. she's a CHILD. furthermore, she's THEIR child.

what you do is say 'honey, when you're an adult and can buy your own boat and afford to do something like this, i still won't like it but i can't prevent it. but right now you're 16 and the answer is an unequivocal NO!'

i mean, come on. is this worth losing your baby over?

feraltart said...

A 16 year old Australian girl called Jessica Watson successfully completed a round the world sailing trip in May this year. While I respect everyone who would say no, people die tripping over in their homes. I would hate to think that I dampened a dream due to fears. They are going to do what they want eventually. I hope this young lady is found safe and well, and I will wish her all the best should she attempt another round the world voyage.

kathrynnova said...

i will never understand this "youngest person to _____" do whatever. Why do we have to make a commodity out of any kind of accomplishment?

i really hope she is ok.

kathrynnova said...

i think i'll send my 2 year old into space for 10 years so he/she can not only be the YOUNGEST person to operate a space shuttle but ALSO that will be how long her reality show will run watching her grow up in space in front of all of our greedy and devouring eyes!!!!!!!!!!! and she'll film it ALL herself while operating the shuttle!!!!!!!

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

MCH and Reese - thanks for the kind words. :)

bionic bunny! said...

@ reese:
(and please, before i get flamed, this comment and my previous are NOT meant to be harsh, and the last may not be for the faint of heart) you've been below decks in bad weather-- that means you were with others who handled the sailing. certainly not not being mean, and again, i am praying every moment for her return, but, what kind of boats have you sailed? me? i've never touched anything like what she set out on. i purposely watched the news after enty posted this, and she had some SERIOUS equipment on that boat. now i hear daddy was a boat builder? do you really think he'd send baby girl off in something he didn't think she could handle?
call off cps, this is my gripe. with the right rigging, one person could easily handle a 40-45' sloop/ketch
with ease. :)
okay, laying off poor reese, yes, i grew up on the ocean, my dad's an old sailor, his dad before. my dad taught celestial navigation, and i love the smell of varnish in the morning (sorry had to go there).
i asked his opinion of this. HERE'S THE PART WHERE SOME OF YOU SHOULD LOOK AWAY.
i actually thought about this earlier, may God rest my soul, but didn't bring it up.
first, my comment about the sail hitting the water. duh. i don't sail anymore, don't own a boat. it could be that the main was down and the mast alarm hit, or the jib hit. see, technology. this is shit i don't know. there's also an alarm that says if the ship has overturned (okay, sunk more than 15 feet, but overturning a sailboat is damn hard to do, a fact my father repeatedly quoted to my mother over the years).
here i go. worst case scenario, is pirates. the boat is covered in corporate logos, they would be contacting someone soon. i guarantee she had firearms, but whether or not she could really use them? doubtful.
please, everybody, please remember i am just speculating on the facts. maybe this isn't the right forum, but this is where i hang out. all children are different. my two are polar opposites, ha-ha.
we wanted to get my son a sabot ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabot_(dinghy) ) when he was oh, 8, 9, 10....
DD is 24 and i still wouldn't buy her one.
please, let's stop blaming the parents!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you bionic bunny! and feraltart. Stop blaming the parents!!! Even if she was 16, 26 or 56. The age doesn't matter. If you have a dream you gotta go for it. Even if you die trying, like the 20 something year old who died recently on the Everest, they couldn't carry him down, so they him to die on the mountain. They know it's not going to be easy, they know the risk, they know death is a possibility. At least they are out there enjoying life. Like the canadian woman who rowed accross the ocean. These people are out there living their life, enjoying their short time on this planet while the one who complains are sitting at home.

Reese said...

Bionic, yes, I do understand your perspective. I started out sailing on little boats like the one she is on; my family owns a 55' with every sort of radar and communication device you can think of, meant for around the world sail. I fully get how she was decked out; even better than her brother's boat, which was fully geared. I've sailed all over the world in all sorts of conditions, and I can't imagine any responsible parents OKing this. Her brother had a hell of a time, both on the sea and in ports, and he didn't experience the treatment a young girl might (think sexual assault or kidnaping aren't possibilities?) Have you ever sailed into third world ports; in quite a few of the ones I've been in, people walking around with machine guns over their shoulders is common. Lots of rough characters in these places; think those are OK environments for a cute teenager girl on her own? I'm very familiar with her family; they live just south of where I do. The local media has been very critical of them for allowing her to do this. I think he parents are enjoying the publicity and attention for their business their children are bringing to them; I hope they don't end up being known as the idiots who let their daughter die "doing what she loved".

chihuahuense said...

I am all for getting out there and getting your hands dirty and chasing your dream. I have Teddy Roosevelt's Man in the Arena quote taped to my planner because that is what I strive for. BUT you have to be smart, too. Like Reese and others are mentioning, I just don't think that she is physically able to make this trip. It really is a fine line, and I guess if we don't know her personally, then we really can't speculate, but I really hope that the parents aren't doing this for business.

Robert said...

"Abby was five months younger, and so hoped to take that world record [from Jessica Walton] for herself." As soon as I heard the reporter say that I thought, "A-ha! There is more here than meets the eye." Imagine the prestige for the boat-building business to have a world record holder prominently associated with the owner? It seems as if this voyage was begun with an eye toward beating out the Jessica Walton attempt, a long tradition in these types of endeavors. I find it disturbing that Abby's attempt ended with the failed autopilot and stopping to fix it. Autopilot? I'm no sailor, but shouldn't she be able to navigate without it, by compass, sextant, etc., in case of emergency? What would happen if her autopilot failed 5,000 miles from land? I really pray this ends well.

jax said...

if you wanna sail around the fucking world at 16,bring a damn parent.

captivagrl said...

It's being reported that she's been found! Very good news!

bionic bunny! said...

thank you, captiva!
i hope you're right, we've all been praying, but each and every one of my family members have believed, in our hearts that she would be found.
reese, i was not attacking you personally, in fact, i think we might enjoy talking sailing on another day.

almost all of the stories i've read about soloing the globe, physicality is not the problem. it's the mind numbing loneliness. coincidentally, i just finished reading yet another author's take on cook's circumnavigations. i think he painted too pretty a picture of him towards the end, even though he was a brilliant cartographer and started out as a decent man.
abby will have stories to tell, and i'll bet you, if she's basically unharmed, she will try again. you mark my words.
*spits in hand* friends, reese?
off to check the locals for news.

bionic bunny! said...

CAPTIVA, you are right:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/11/sailor-abby-sunderland-found-alive

didn't i say i had faith she'd be found?
thanks, cap, for that breakthrough, did you email it through to enty?

Unknown said...

Well she's ok, but it's just crazy that they let her do this.

There was a story earlier in the year where a 13 year old dutch girl wanted to sail solo around the world. The government there did everything it could to prevent her from doing it. Some parents are just crazy.

lmnop123 said...

Thank God she's okay. I heard this information on the news this morning and it was nice to hear something good and positive when I wake up as opposed to all the problems of the world.

Anonymous said...

Jessica Watson arrived in Sydney in a pink boat to much fanfare and congratulations from the Oz media when she completed her trip, even if she didn't manage to break the youngest solo world trip record. There were the same sceptical comments about Jessica's immaturity and her perceived lack of experience. She spent seven months at sea and now has a seven month gap in her high school education. No word on whether she intends to go back to school.

One month later the FIFA World Cup has started and everyone has forgotten about Jessica. This English chick who needed to be rescued doesn't have a pink boat, but I also bet she'll be forgotten unless the Queen decides to knight her as she has for many British sportspeople.

Perceived lack of sailing experience or physical strength is not the question for me here. I would not let my daughter spend SEVEN months on her own at the age of SIXTEEN, whether it be on a boat or otherwise. A solo world trip is a harsh and lonely undertaking, how can these girls have the emotional maturity to cope during and after the trip?

The Cocoanut Grove said...

The Jessica Watson attempt could just have easily ended in tragedy as it did in triumph; the media circus when she returned was as irresponsible as it was revolting. There's a good reason the Guinness Book of Records doesn't recognise "World's Youngest" attempts.

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