A French fishing ship reached 16-year old American Abby Sunderland in the Indian Ocean earlier today, bringing a sigh of relief to her friends and family back home in California, who have been waiting for news on her rescue for the past two days. The girl, who had been attempting to sail solo around the world, was feared lost at sea on Thursday when contact with her home team was disrupted during a major storm. Later she would set off two emergency locator beacons, and on Friday, an Australian commercial aircraft few over her position, confirming that she was alive and well, but adrift in the frigid ocean waters.
Abby’s remote location in the Indian Ocean made it difficult to make a quick recovery. She was more than 2000 miles from both Africa and Australia, which made the use of a helicopter impossible. The French ship was the closest to her position, but was still 40 hours away when she ran into trouble.
As of this morning, the decision was still being made as to where to take the teenager. The ship could sail for Reunion Island, which is the closest land, but is in the middle of the Indian Ocean and quite remote in its own right. Or they could make a course for Australia, where Abby will have more resources at her disposal for getting home or repairing her own vessel. The fishing boat may even rendezvous with another ship, which could start a relay of sorts delivering the girl to safety.
Also unknown as this time is whether or not Abby will continue her attempt to sail around the world. Her boat, the Wild Eyes, has suffered a broken mast, and her sails are in tatters, with further damage a possibility. The Wild Eyes will have to be towed into port for repairs before she can go anywhere again, which will require time and money. For the near term anyway, Abby will be able to think carefully on what her next move is.
[Photo credit: Al Seib / L.A. Times]