SAINT-DENIS, Reunion – Sixteen-year-old Californian sailor Abby Sunderland got a big hug from her older brother Saturday on the appropriately named Reunion Island, and again defended her family for letting her try to sail around the world alone.
Though saddened by the loss of her boat in an Indian Ocean storm, Sunderland said she isn’t giving up sailing.
“I’m really disappointed that things didn’t go as planned,” Sunderland told reporters after coming to shore early Saturday on the remote French island of Reunion, located in the waters near southeastern Africa.
Massive waves snapped her boat’s mast June 10, and she was rescued in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean two days later by a French fishing boat. It took two weeks more at sea to reach Reunion, from which she plans to fly home today.
Australia and France worked together to rescue the American teenager – and they footed the hefty bills for chartering jets to find her and diverting boats to her location.
Sunderland thanked everyone who helped in her rescue and acknowledged “the public debate about the cost of rescues.”
“I know that the USA would do the same for a citizen of any other country as these countries did for me,” she said.