MARINA DEL REY, Calif. – Abby Sunderland faced down moments of terror on the high seas after her boat was rolled over by a huge wave as she tried to solo sail around the world.
Still, the 16-year-old said Tuesday she was proud of her effort, hoped it might inspire others and wasn’t 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 40-foot 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.
Since her voyage went awry, Sunderland’s parents have come under relentless criticism for allowing the teenager to set sail alone.
Sunderland once again defended her attempt, saying the question of her age should have been settled after she became the youngest person to sail solo around Cape Horn.