Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Teenage sailor describes solo voyage fear

Teenage solo sailor Abby Sunderland has revealed how she faced down moments of terror on the high seas after her boat was rolled over by a huge wave as she attempted to sail around the world.

The 16-year-old said she was proud of her effort, hoped it might inspire others and was not ready to abandon sailing.

In her first statements since returning home Monday, Sunderland said she was below deck working on her boat Wild Eyes as a fierce storm was letting up in the Indian Ocean.

"I was hit by a rogue wave once the storm was already dying down," she said. "I didn't have a lot of warning."

Sunderland had just spoken to her family by satellite phone when the wave knocked over the 40ft boat and sent her tumbling in its hold.

She hit her head, and "things went black for a second," she said

When she regained consciousness and rushed to the deck, she found a one-inch fiberglass stump where the mast once stood. Back in the hold, she tested the engine she had just repaired. It would not start.

Sunderland set off her emergency beacons and waited. She was amazed when a plane dispatched from Australia to find her flew overhead the next day. Two days later a fishing boat arrived.

"As you probably all really know, I'd much rather be sailing Wild Eyes back in here. But the plane was really comfortable," Sunderland deadpanned, looking poised and comfortable Tuesday as she sat next to her 18-year-old brother Zac at a news conference in Marina del Rey, where she set sail in January.

She thanked her rescuers and other people who helped with her trip and singled out her brother as a source of inspiration. Zac Sunderland, 18, successfully completed a round-the-world voyage last year, briefly becoming the youngest person to do so. His record has since been broken.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph