Skip to comments.Reporter who sailed with Abby Sunderland shares perspective
Posted on 06/17/2010 7:18:48 PM PDT by GatorGirl
I don't know Abby Sunderland as well as those close to her, but I think I know her better than other reporters and columnists know her.
I've interviewed the Thousand Oaks teenager several times, and before she set out to chase a dream and try to circle the planet on a 40-foot yacht, I sailed with her through the night aboard that yacht, Wild Eyes, which by now probably rests at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
Same goes for Abby's older brother, Zac. While working for the Los Angeles Times, I followed his 13-month around-the-world odyssey from the beginning, providing frequent blog posts and newspaper updates.
And yes, I've met the parents, and the brothers and sisters. I never became close to the family; my interactions were all during story assignments. But I gained some insight that other reporters and columnists do not have as they digest and regurgitate information regarding Abby's recent rescue, after Wild Eyes was slammed in heavy seas between Africa and Australia.
Thus, because Abby and her family have become such a curiosity and so glaring a target, here are a few observations, quotes and anecdotes that might provide a better understanding of Abby, 16, and the sailing Sunderlands:
(Excerpt) Read more at petethomasoutdoors.com ...
This is an article from a reporter who followed the story for the LA Times. As most of you know I'm a Sunderland Skeptic. But in the interest of being "fair and balanced" the article is pretty pro-Abby. And that's fine. But here is the money quote:
-- Was Wild Eyes ill-prepared or just plain jinxed? It seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong from the time the Sunderlands bought the speedy cruising sled on the East Coast. I joined Abby and Laurence for the delivery of Wild Eyes from Ensenada, Mexico, to San Diego. The trip began in late afternoon and lasted through the night because there was either no wind or a strong headwind -- and because a massive clump of kelp had wrapped around Wild Eyes' keel. All of this turned a 12-hour sail into a 17-hour sail that required, at the very end, a tow by Vessel Assist.
Abby showed me a lot that night, though. She did not utter a single complaint and she did not sleep; and when Wild Eyes docked at the Customs office in San Diego she had to fend off accusations from Zac, who was aboard a companion vessel, that she must have at least dozed off. Zac then donned a mask, grabbed a large knife, dove in and cut the kelp from the keel."
GG again: Throughout this mostly pro-Abby article, this is the most telling. Her only "training" on the vessel was from Ensenada to MdR with her father, brother and a reporter and she couldn't deal with headwinds or kelp AND THEY NEEDED A TOW INTO THE MARINA??????
This was on December 6 and she departed a mere seven weeks later on January 23. Seven weeks to learn the boat she couldn't even sail on December 6? YIKES!!!!
“Her only “training” on the vessel was from Ensenada to MdR with her father, brother and a reporter and she couldn’t deal with headwinds or kelp AND THEY NEEDED A TOW INTO THE MARINA??????”
I’ve read numerous other articles that pointed out at least 3 years of sailing. Since her brother sailed and her dad taught sailing I think I’ll go with this.
If the motor wasn’t working or didn’t have fuel just what should she have done? You don’t sail a boat up to the dock.
You’re adding facts about fuel and the motor.
The reporter indicates it was because of too much kelp on the keel.
My 14 y/o has been sailing since infancy but has never crewed on a major race or sailed solo out of sight of land. There is no indication she did either. He’s not qualified to do a solo round the world and neither was she.
See Jessica Watson’s documented list of accomplishments and compare them to Abby’s. This media-hungry family would surely list her sailing accomplishments had she any.
Note also that this guy’s account varies wildly with that on the same date on Abby’s blog. She doesn’t mention any problems, motor issues or tow.
Seems to be the chic thing to dog this young lady. Yet the Aussie gets treated with accolades.
Lesson - America loves a winner and will destroy a loser.
What a crock.
It wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference if Child Protective Services sat down and “made sure” a 16 year old girl wasn’t being coerced into being with a sex offender would it? But somehow, sending a child where there is a high probability of physical danger is somehow different...
"that yacht, Wild Eyes, which by now probably rests at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Same goes for Abby's older brother, Zac."
Yep, it’s sad.
Australia - no debt.
USA - elected Obama. It’s no contest!
It’s not chic, it’s sensible.
It’s unfortunate she tried to do this in pursuit of a “record” instead of safely, sanely, and with proper experience and training.
It’s a symptom of America these days. Seek fame and fortune instead of doing something purely for the love of adventure.
If it truly was for the love of adventure or to fulfill a “life long dream” would it really matter if she had waited a year or two? Of course not!!
Good article. I think Abby is a great kid and will become an outstanding adult.
“You dont sail a boat up to the dock.”
That thesis seems to have quite a challenge from the history of sailing.
Interesting logic. Perhaps there should be a law that future sailors should check in with your kids attainments before they try something.
It's also interesting that the reporter who file this story spent a lot of time with Abby and her family, and as a result had a positive perspective about Abby, and felt that she and her parents pursued this trip safely and sanely with proper preparation and appropriate skill.
So it sure is good that you managed to post this in a negative light, before people got the wrong idea.
And Barack Obama taught Constitutional Law. And tracking any verification of the Sunderland family sailing claims is about as fruitful as looking for Barack's college transcripts.
This is a sailing school run by offshore racing professionals, a school with a difference!
And they probably can't afford her these days, but in years past, one of their sailing dingy instructors was a girl named Jessica Watson.
Another article by a mainstream journalist with no understanding of ocean sailing and weather issues.
Sure, everyone who is of the "ra-ra-ra go for it mentality" has a point about not listening to naysayers, etc. etc. But the fact of THIS case --as distinct from Zac's case-- had to do with sailing in the Southern Ocean, below 40 degrees South latitude, and in the winter, which no experienced offshore sailor with any sense of safety and reality would ever recommend doing, especially for a comparatively inexperienced 16 year old sailor. By comparison, Zac's circumnavigation via the trade wind route was extremely safe and benign.
The failure to understand the route, timing and (in) experience level in Abby's case --and the fact that the parents were hoping to make some money and a celebrity out of her-- is the crux of the matter.
Posted by: Steve | Jun 16, 2010 at 03:55 PM
So now sailing is the same as being POTUS? laughable, you destroy your own argument.
No what I saying is that Laeurence Sunderlands claim to the title "Sailing Instructor" are about as merited as Barack's claim to the title "Constitutional Law Professor". All hat no cattle.
You do realize what he does for a living? But hey some 16 yr old Aussie chick must have better credentials then him. After all she was successful.
So did a guy named Ted Caloroso who filmed Abby's preparations for departure and he sees things quite differently.
It’s amazing how people twist things around. I never said because my 14 y/o isn’t qualified to circumnavigate taking the southern route no other teenager is. Jessica Watson just did it! Sheesh!
But you’ve caused me to rethink things. I’m going to start working on sponsorships and buy him a boat and send him out later this year. That way, he’ll finish at 15. I’m sure he’ll make it and we will become RICH! And if not, well, life is full of risks.
Have a great day...my kids and I are planning to go.....sailing!
Brendan Candella: "I wonder why the world is in the condition it is in. We sit in our homes and worry about other people trying to do extraordinary things, even though they may be dangerous or a little crazy. Well it's the crazy ones that will be remembered and be the ones to do great things that will have a great impact upon this world and human race.I now remind all the chattering, clattering and hectorating class of "ocean sailors" that Abbey LIVES!
"We condemn those who wish to risk everything to enjoy their lives no matter what there age or intention. You know why? It is because we are unhappy with our lives, because we do not have the courage or the guts to do extraordinary things. Everyone who makes a case against this girl wishes to prevent disaster, but the one thing they do is to assure mediocrity. Abby don't give up ever, keep fighting until you cannot fight anymore to fulfill your dreams. Good luck with your adventures."
She did not die according to the miserable "logics" of envy and jealousy that some are applying in this case. And that makes those chatterers very upset.
Instead they might try appreciating her great accomplishment.
Abbey sailed more than halfway around the world and survived a wicked storm. Be happy! Enjoy!
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