Re: Ch. 1 - Sailing Dreams
Rescue under way for missing teen sailor
AAP http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/7381 ... n-trouble/
June 11, 2010, 7:33 am
Australian officials are mounting a search for a 16-year-old US girl attempting a Jessica Watson-style solo sail around the world who is feared in trouble in the frigid, heaving southern Indian Ocean.
A rescue effort was launched off the coast of Madagascar early on Thursday after emergency beacons on board Abby Sunderland's sailboat were triggered and communication was lost after the young adventurer ran into 15-18 metre seas.
Sunderland was believed to be hundreds of kilometres from land with the nearest ship around 600 km away.
The teen's family was talking with US and international governments about organising a search of the remote ocean between southern Africa and Australia, family spokesman Christian Pinkston said.
The rescue effort is being coordinated by the Reunion Islands with help from Australian authorities.
Conditions can quickly become perilous for any sailor exposed to the elements in that part of the world.
"We've got to get a plane out there quick," said Pinkston, adding that the teen's family was asking for prayers for her safety.
"They are exhausting every resource to try to mobilise an air rescue including discussions with the US State Department, the US Coast Guard and various international rescue organisations," he said. The closest land is France's Reunion Island, east of Madagascar, though the exact distance wasn't clear.
Abby last communicated with her family at 4am PDT (2100 Thursday AEST) and reported nine-metre swells but was not in distress, Pinkston said.
An hour later the family was notified that her emergency beacons had been activated, and there was no further communication. Pinkston said the beacons were manually activated.
Her brother, Zac, who sailed around the world at age 17, told Los Angeles radio station KNX that Abby was in a heavy storm at the time she called home.
"We're still trying to figure out the rescue situation," he said. "There's two boats headed out to her position, one is an estimated 40 hours, the other is 48. Right now we're trying to figure out if there is any way faster. She's in the middle of nowhere pretty much in the southern Indian Ocean. There's nothing closer."
He said Abby's boat was most likely not completely submerged because another beacon would be triggered at a depth of 4.6 metres.
Abby set sail from Los Angeles County's Marina del Rey in her 12-metre boat, Wild Eyes, on January 23 in an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone without stopping. Her brother briefly held the record in 2009.
Abby soon ran into equipment problems and had to stop for repairs. She gave up the goal of setting the record in April, but continued on.
On May 15, 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson claimed the record after completing a 23,000-mile (37,013km) circumnavigation in 210 days.
Abby left Cape Town, South Africa, on May 21 and on Monday reached the halfway point of her voyage.
On Wednesday, she wrote in her log that it had been a rough few days with huge seas that had her boat "rolling around like crazy".
"I've been in some rough weather for awhile with winds steady at 40-45 knots with higher gusts," she wrote. "With that front passing, the conditions were lighter today. It was a nice day today with some lighter winds which gave me a chance to patch everything up. Wild Eyes was great through everything but after a day with over 50 knots at times, I had quite a bit of work to do."
Information on her website said that as of June 8 she had completed a 2100-mile (3379km) leg from South Africa to north of the Kerguelen Islands, taking a route to avoid an ice hazard area. Ahead of her lay more than 3,379 kilometres of ocean on a 10- to 16-day leg to a point south of Cape Leeuwin on the southwest tip of Australia.