Tempest-tossed teen rebounds
Rescued at sea, Abby Sunderland blogged about a "crazy" ordeal but downplayed risk.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - 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 the 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 that her ordeal would affect the baby and also talked about plans for the next school year.
The young sailor kept blogging after being rescued more than 2,000 miles west of Australia two days after a wave broke the mast of her boat, Wild Eyes. She lost satellite phone communication and 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 had wanted to sail solo around the world since age 13 but he considered her not fit then or at 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.
He said his daughter simply "caught a bad wave."
"Should age be a factor here?" he asked. "Abigail has proven herself. She sailed around Cape Horn, the Cape of Good Hope. She'd endured 50 knots and 60 knots-plus of wind prior to this unfortunate circumstance."
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the French ship Ile de la Reunion took Abby Sunderland aboard from her stricken craft Saturday afternoon.
French authorities called it a "delicate operation," and said at one point the fishing boat's captain fell into the ocean and had to be rescued but was in good health. Laurence Sunderland said the crew used the ship's dinghy in the transfer.