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Community Comment

Sat., June 12, 2010, 10:30 a.m.

Down to the sea…

AFP Photo
AFP Photo

Good morning, Netizens...

(Photo: AP Photo/Richard Hartog)

The talking heads of televised news are hot to devour Abby Sunderland, who is pictured looking out from her sailboat, Wild Eyes, as she leaves for her world-record-attempting journey around the world at the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, Calif., on Jan 23, 2010. The 16-year-old California girl who was feared lost at sea while sailing solo around the world has been found alive and well, her ship dismasted, adrift in the southern Indian Ocean as rescue boats head toward her damaged yacht, officials said on June 11, 2010.

Most of the news commentators I have heard are now raising a hue and cry about the responsibility, or lack thereof, of her parents for allowing her to undertake such a voyage at age 16. Most opinions I have heard thus far are that her parents should never have allowed such a young woman to make such a trip alone.

This raises the question in my mind if any of the news broadcasters who have spoken with such fervent conviction have ever sailed out to sea alone, for my limited experience sailing suggests probably not.
An article I read back in January stated that Abby had logged over 1000 hours aboard various sailboats, most of which time she was traveling either alone or with various other family members. Based upon that, she was not unskilled whatsoever in her knowledge. If she was guilty of anything, she was inexperienced in her knowledge of the Indian Ocean, a largely uncharted wilderness that has defied, challenged and killed a lot of mariners and aviators since time began.

Then there is the question, whether or not her parents should have allowed her to undertake such a dangerous trip alone which bothers me a great deal. Given all the vile things in the world that can beset young women today, bad choices that they can make, were that my daughter, I might have a different opinion. If she had experience sailing on the open sea, and if she had the requisite open-sea navigation experience, the knowledge that only comes from traveling in uncharted waters, I would do everything in my power to help her succeed in her goal.

Then I would prayerfully wait for her safe return each day by the shore, and rejoice upon her safe return, whether or not she succeeded. Most of all I would have great pride, for her courage and skill to travel as far as she did and then survive after losing her mast in a storm speaks volumes to me. She is now safe and headed home.

I'll bet she tries again. Your thoughts, of course, may differ.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.