Round-the-world teen sailor feared lost at sea

Friday, June 11, 2010

WASHINGTON - A 16-year-old California girl, who had been attempting a solo non-stop sail around the world, is feared to be lost at sea.

According to, Abby Sunderland lost satellite phone contact with her parents on June 11, and the Australian Coast Guard reported she had activated both of her emergency beacons.

The website reported that one of the beacons may be attached to a survival suit or a life raft, and is designed to be used when a person is in the water or in a life raft.

Sunderland had been dealing with waves topping 20 feet and high winds while sailing more than 400 miles from the nearest ship and even farther from land.

The Southern California girl’s attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world without stopping launched from Los Angeles County’s Marina del Rey on January 23.

Sunderland soon ran into equipment problems when the autopilot on her 40-foot sailboat, “Wild Eyes”, failed and she had to stop for repairs, giving up the goal of setting the record in April.

Still, she continued and left Cape Town, South Africa, on May 21, and on June 7 reached the halfway point of her goal.

“I gave it my best shot and made it almost half way around the world,” Discovery News quoted her as having written on her website.

“I admit I was pretty upset at first, but there is no point in getting upset. What’s done is done and there is nothing I can do about it,” she had stated.

Her father, Laurence Sunderland, said that he didn’t know if his daughter was in a life raft or aboard the boat, or whether the boat was upside down.

“Everything seemed to be under control,” he said.

“But then our call dropped and an hour later the Coast Guard called,” he added.

In her latest blog entry, Abby Sunderland had written: “The wind is beginning to pick up. It is back up to 20 knots and I am expecting that by midnight tonight I could have 35-50 knots with gusts to 60 so I am off to sleep before it really picks up.”

Some had argued that Sunderland was too young to attempt the voyage alone, but her family had assured that the 16-year-old was up to the challenge.

The family had been boating together for decades and Abby’s older brother, Zac, completed his around-the-world voyage at age 17. (ANI)

will not be displayed