By ROBERT RUDMAN, MARC DORIAN and TOM McCARTHY
June 10, 2010
Abby Sunderland's age sparks debate over how young is too young.
"So yeah, she's pretty banged up out there right now, and [we're] just trying to get the rescue teams out."
The closest land to Abby's boat was Reunion Island, which is east of Madagascar.
The nearest ship was 400 miles away. Rescuers were trying to contact the ship.
"There's two boats headed out to her position. One of them's an estimated 40 hours, the other is 48.
So right now we're just trying to figure out if there's any way faster. She's in the middle of nowhere pretty much, in the Southern Indian Ocean, there's nothing closer.
"We're just hoping everything's all right out there. There's nothing we can really know for sure out there right now."
A note posted to a blog tracking Abby's progress by her support team Thursday detailed her survival gear. "Abby has all of the equipment on board to survive a crisis situation like this," the posting said. "She has a dry suit, survival suit, life raft, and ditch bag with emergency supplies. If she can keep warm and hang on, help will be there as soon as possible."
Jeff Casher, an engineer on Sunderland's support team, told ABC News that he last spoke with the 16-year-old sailor before 6 a.m. PDT, after she had been knocked down twice during the night because of strong winds -- meaning that her sail had touched the water. One of those knock-downs, Casher said, ripped the radar off the boat. She had been speaking with Casher on a satellite telephone earlier because of engine problems and was in the process of fixing those problems when she told Casher she'd call right back.
She has not been heard from since, except for the distress signals.
Abby is approximately 500 miles north of the Antarctic Islands on her bid to become the youngest to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat, solo.
Abby herself last posted a blog entry from her boat, "Wild Eyes," on Wednesday night.
"It was a nice day today with some lighter winds which gave me a chance to patch everything up," she wrote. "Wild Eyes was great through everything but after a day with over 50 knots at times, I had quite a bit of work to do."
The weather was getting rough again, she noted.
"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," she wrote.
Abby's goal at the outset of her trip, to become the youngest sailor to pull off a solo nonstop circumnavigation, ended in April, when she was forced to stop in South Africa because her autopilot malfunctioned.
She still was bidding to become the youngest sailor to perform a solo circumnavigation.
So... does this spell the end of this 16-year old fame whore? Not only is this a monumental and a colossal parental FAIL for this young child's parents, but if it turns out that they have simply been pimping her, a willing sacrifice on the alter of 'fame'...?
Well, that just sort of tells you where they're coming from, don't you think? There's no bloody way that a 16 year old child belongs alone at sea, in a 40-foot vessel. In any length vessel... This child's parents should be shot where they stand.
A co-worker of mine sent me the MSNBC link for this story and asked me (as an ex-Navy veteran), what I thought about this. I replied:
"Funny... I was just reading about this on the ABC News website. If she is dead, I would absolutely put her name in as a front-runner for this year's Darwin Awards.
As for her parents...? Clearly they have no business raising children, but then again, they are no more than the norm these days.
The days when our society was capable of producing viable parents has long since gone, my friend. Sad to say...".
And to that, I can't really add anything else.
After all, does anyone really have to?