Stormy Sea with Lighthouse
Karl Eduard Ferdinand Blechen
My heart goes out to the parents and family of Abby Sunderland. She is the teenager who appears to be lost at sea during her attempt to sail solo around the world. According to CNN:
Sunderland's small sailboat was adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean about 2,000 miles east of Madagascar, 2,000 miles west of Australia and 500 miles north of the French Antarctic Islands, Casher said Thursday afternoon.
The government of Reunion -- a French island -- diverted a fishing boat toward her last known position, but it is not expected to reach the area until Saturday, Casher said. An Australian military ship, more than two days sail away, has also been dispatched, Casher said.
"Friends in Australia have chartered an Airbus jet to fly over the area at sunrise Friday to see if Sunderland's vessel could be spotted from the air, he said.
What were her parents thinking? This girl is 16 years old. That's the age when most kids get their first driver's licence, and their parents sit at home anxiously waiting to hear the car pull into the driveway -- intact. What parents in their right mind send a 16 year-old girl out onto the oceans of the world alone? The rescue mission that is taking place right now brings to mind the efforts that were made to find Amelia Earhart. At this point it doesn't look good. According to a latest report, from Sail-World.com "the boat is drifting backwards at around 1 knot. This indicates that no sails are active and that the yacht is not in an upright position."
I'm sure Abby Sunderland was technically proficient in sailing the boat, but at 16 years of age, all sorts of other things come into play. Teenagers, as mature and independent as they may seem, are not prepared for this sort of a venture. Does anyone remember seven year-old Jessica Dubroff, who died attempting to become the youngest person to fly an airplane across the United States? And recently the Dutch government stopped 13 year-old Laura Dekker from sailing solo around the world. She was quoted as saying, "Since I was 10 years old, I've known that I would like to sail around the world." Gosh, that would be -- like -- three whole years ago.
Maybe Abby Sunderland will set a record after all. Maybe she will be the last enfant terrible to be permitted to pull off a self-serving stunt simply in the name of a world record and some sort of notoriety. And I don't blame Abby, I blame the people who allowed her to do this. She's 16 -- she should be going to the prom, not lost and alone somewhere in remote and stormy part of the Indian Ocean. I pray this girl can be found alive, but the chances are looking pretty slim at the moment. God speed, Abby, wherever you are.
UPDATE: Miracles do happen. They found Abby Sunderland stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and a French fishing vessel is going to pick her up. Now I hope she goes home and waits a few more years before she tries this again. Be a kid...!