Monday, January 4, 2010

A Day at Home

I stayed at home today to help out with packing food and a few other losse ends. I'm not much help with all the work that's being done on the boat right now, and its good to be home for a day every now and then.

Thanks to Good Morning America, who wanted to get some footage of me hanging out with friends, I got to get together with some friends that I haven't seen in awhile last week.

Packing food has turned out to be a bit more difficult than we had thought it would be. My mom has been working hard at it for the past three days and it's just about done. We'll get it all down to the boat tomorrow, and hopefully there will be enough room!!

I ended up getting an Amazon Kindle, with a waterproof case. It seems great! I can download books in the car on the way to the marina and back everyday. I've got about 30 books on it already, but just in case, I'll bring a few of my books from home.

Steven Gloor from Vesper Marine in San DIego came up on Sunday to show me all the ins and outs of my new AIS ships radar and transponder. Unlike during Zac's trip, my AIS will actually transmit a signal as well so ships will be able to 'see' me as well.

My diesel heater was condemned over the weekend after many hours spent trying to fix it. After hearing about how cold Jesse Watson is today, I am glad that I will have a new one - not that that always means it will keep working!


  1. Hello Abby,
    Sounds as though you're ticking off lots of things on your to do list. What an amazing thing you're doing. Yes, you should take very good care of your diesel heater, you don't want to be losing any fingers to frostbite! I think you are from a warm climate like Jessica, so the cold will not be what you're acclimatised to.

    I'll keep following as your preparations move towards the finishing line. No doubt you are really champing at the bit to get to sea.

    Wishing the best for you.

  2. Hi Abby!
    Glad to hear you've got a new heater!!! This California girl could not stand being doused with freezing water! When you get a chance, could you explain to us non-serious sailors how you would get rid of the water if a big wave filled you living area with freezing water? Do you have some sort of automatic pumps. Are the radar and other electronic stuff in water-tight enclosures? I think your Kindle would just start working after it dried out! And was that white thing that looked like a little potty up on the mast the radar?? What's your favorite freeze-dried meal? Your adventure is so exciting, sorry I'm rambling!

  3. Abby,
    It sounds like things are really coming together. Although you're getting so close, it probablyl seem like so many little issues are still there to deal with. Even though you have the experience of Zac and your entire family to draw from, it's probably fun for you to follow Jessica's trip. A little preview of what's to come. Well, enjoy your time at home and with your friends. Looking forward to you updates.

    From Seattle, WA, USA

  4. You'll love the AIS. Couple things to note, 1) I am not so sure that the watch keepers on the big ships pay much attention to the AIS as part of the watch. Out in the middle of the Atlantic, I hailed a few ships and asked if they could see me on AIS. Pretty much every time, there would be a long delay and then they would respond, yes. This left me feeling that they had to go somewhere to look at the AIS. 2)If you are going to hail a ship, use their call sign. They don't appear to answer to blind calls or ship's name(just thought I would share my experience.)

    I'll be following you all the way around. Be safe and Sail Fast. I am envious!

    David Crosby

  5. In addition take a case or 2 of chemical heat packs. Those little sachettes that when you crack them heat upwards and over 100 degrees and can last upto 20 hours. They're tiny and can be stowed away easily.

    Saito-san has been using them throughout his voyage as he does not have a heater. So they must work :-)

    As to brand or type etc. best check around what is considered the best; many makers and brands available.

  6. 01-05-10 @ 01:45
    Hi Abby,
    Looks like you're almost at the departure time, I hope everything is going to fit. If you don't have enough room for the food.....Make room!!!!!
    That's very important.
    Glad to see that you got your heater exchanged, Jessica's working around hers, (with layers of clothes) but she may be able to repair it.
    It's nice that you got to spend some time with your Mom, I know you're both working on the food, but it's still 'gabby' time. LOL.....
    I'm looking forward to 'Good Morning America's' footage. Is that just for the show or will we be able to see it on your website??
    Looking forward to that “Sailing Day”.
    Good luck to you Abby, and may God bless and guide you.
    Michael(74)from Kingwood, WV

  7. THX for the update. Hearing that you are getting the food on board sounds like it won't be long til you'll be posting a departure date. I know you must be about to burst with excitement! Keep well and rest while you can. Take comfort in knowing there are going to be a whole lot of people out here cheering you on!!

    GO GIRL!
    Janell in Oklahoma

  8. Hi Abby,

    I am visiting your site for the first time.
    I was very impressed with the photos of your new sailboat. The "heart" is a great idea.
    What an exciting and busy time for you and your team. Last minute preparations....replacing the heater...instructions on operating the new AIS and mom packing. I hope mom throws in a few surprise goodies!
    I know it's going to be difficult leaving family and friends behind shortly but trust me you are going to have the support of a fabulous "blog family" to the completion of your dream. The world's oceans are about to become YOUR stage ...and I will be there applauding for you all the way. I'll write again when you are underway...GOOD LUCK young lady (I have a 26 year old daughter).

    By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you, your family and the team.

    Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario, Canada

  9. Hi, Abby.
    Good to see that all is well, and you will sonn be on your way.
    Bless you
    Richard (QLD) Aus

  10. Hi Abby,

    Sounds like all going to plan for you. Must be difficult deciding what you will need and remembering everything.
    We all wish you the very best for your journey and are looking forward to following you with interest. You're right about Jesse... her diesel heater has broken but she states that she is coping. We hope so,

    Best wishes,

    The McGraths, Nowra NSW Australia

  11. Hi! Abby, Having a bit of shore leave will help rebuild the body mind, and soul, this is great and to be able to carry digital books to read will help with the weight distribution.
    While the final touches are being done to Wild Eyes, I would like to put forward my thoughts on a comment in another blog comment regarding the Panama canal.
    As this is a solo unassisted circumnavigation , I believe the Panama Canal as being more assisted than not, sailing the oceans is a great venture and I believe this is done by using the natural waterways of the ocean, where the canal is man made to assist you get from point A to point B.
    It would be disappointing if you chose this avenue rather than the open sea.
    Again these are only my thoughts and are not meant to detract from your dream in any way.
    Hervey Bay. Queensland. AU

  12. hey abby.
    nice blog.
    i enjoy reading.

  13. I just cannot believe your parents are supporting you and even encouraging you to do such a dangerous journey. You are just a child!! You do not have THAT much experience and even now other people are preparing your boat and packing your food. I have to say that I am very very scared about the danger that lies ahead.

  14. Bonjour Abby,

    Almost there at the start line!

    How are you going to stop Zac from hiding on board Wild Eyes? :-)

    Be Abby, stay cool.

  15. Are you still planning a shakedown run around the Channel Islands?

  16. "even now other people are preparing your boat and packing your food"

    Yeah but she'll eat all the food by herself. Don't worry about that. ;-)

  17. Hello Abby,
    The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are taking their places. Departure time is approaching. It seems you will be ready... not the same as at the beginning of December, remember? That was a crazy hope.
    Still some shakedown run, maybe?
    But you will leave really soon anyway.
    Keep your brains cool and focused.
    Best wishes!

  18. I haven't read that much (unless I've missed it somewhere) about all your ocean experience... I'd be interested to know extactly how many ocean miles you have under your belt. It's hard not to compare with Jessica Watson as her blog & adventure is running now.... but her ocean experience seemed quite substantial before she left Australia. Also, she helped pack her own food & repaired/worked on her boat for close to a year. Since your boat is new to you, how many sailing miles do you have on an Open 40? Just curious, as I haven't been able to find that info within your site. Sorry, if I'm sounding contrary... interesting bloggers that are following you! I enjoy all the pros & cons debate here.

    thank you, and good luck if you do set out, but please do not go if you are not ready.

    sincerely Jon

  19. Abby there is not one thing on that boat you should not know about, and be apart of doing, whether it be fiber glass, installation, painting, your hand should be on everything.

    When are you doing your shakedown cruise?

  20. Can someone help a non sailor here please. Twice mention has been made about shoving bags of food into a boat now as if it's critical aspect of sailing a boat. Is it a sea type law thing that only the captain of a vessel is permitted to touch the grub?

    Is that correct?

    Pretty bizzaro in the sea sailing scheme of things.

  21. It's the same noise that was blared when that young kid, what was name, Zac something or other, also 16 set sail, too young, no experience, dangerous, what does a kid know about boats and sailing, his boats too old, its too big for him to handle, he'll never survive, lock up the parents blah blah. And the end result was? Then again that rumbling noise starts again with young Jessica Watson, too young, OMG she's a gurl, to small, to frail, hahaha what experience at 16 can she have attained, boats to big, she's to weak blah blah blah. And now? Wash repeat Rinse. Abby's to young, no experience, can't even make her own bed let alone pack her own lunch onto her boat, boats to small, boats to fast, training on an open 50 is not training on an open 40, she'll never make, lock up the parents blah blah blah. And?

    I'm beginning to think that what the root concern is that "these kids don't know their place" :-) Sailing is an old man's sport. You're supposed to work hard, retire buy a boat and spend the rest of year days trying to become a better sailor. Not unlike golf. And woebetide, who are these young whipper snappers who dare to test the might of the Everest of sailing Cape Horn. Such insolence of the youth today. Blah blah.. That's right can you imagine the chagrin when they do make it around safely. The almighty Cape conquered by a couple of teenagers, while a gang of old farts putter around the marina docked yachts tsk tsk'ing and tut tutting, I worked my entire life for this 24 foot boat and spend an hour a day in sight of land training for the last 30 years and these confounded youth have just completed what I have been aiming to do.

    That's all it is :-(

    The "mystique" of solo circumnavigating is being demystified. Heaven for bid, two or even one makes it around the almighty Cape. The domain of the oldest of grey-bearded salts. These old men might as well sell their boats and pack up. Their ultimate dreams and dock side fantasy of "one day setting sail to do the same" shattered and left in tatters by a bunch of snotty nose little kids.

    yo! tweet that pops


  22. Hi, Ive tried to post a message the other day but it was not accepted or it got lost somehow.
    Well I was just trying to say some concerns i have with the trip. One is the shakedown of the boat with all the works being done to it, I wonder if it needs some good tests before going into a circumnavigation and second..did Abby have the time to get familiar with all the technology that is on the boat? Hopefully all the precautions needed and more will be taken before departure.


  23. I think that there is a rather large, albeit silent, number of observers who are having a bit of a hard time with this particular ocean challenge. There seems to be no shortage of well wishers, all of whom pour forth with well intentioned comments about how prepared Abby is and how she can do it. However, many who are watching this challenge shape up, are reading between the lines: To wit, (1) Abby's extensive "coastal cruising" experience, (2) the manner in which her challenge has shaped up with a weather window and age record setting agenda being predominant determinations for departure, (3) the lack of any real time spent offshore for any significant period of time, sailing solo and shaking out the newly re-fitted vessel, (4) the video hosted on the site in which Abby discusses her tech gear, (5) the work others have been doing while Abby is largely "not much help with the work being done on the boat right now" (she will presumably be the only help when it comes time to hands on repairs while at this context, any limited help and observation is of extreme value) and many other indicators that are giving many sailors pause!

    I have absolutely no doubt that Abby is a sincere and perfectly nice young lady and maybe this young sailor is truly prepared for the challenge at hand, but to me, this feels like a rushed attempt by a sailor who is not truly prepared. I can only hope that Zac will not be hiding on board as an above poster made joking reference to.

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. Jessica Watson couldn't even sail out of her home port straight, and y'all crapping on Abby even before she's left.

    Am I smelling a tinge of kangaroo poo here.

    happened with the zacster, young perham who it turns out cried his eyes out throughout his trip was "virtually" challenging zac i/e/ " i'm going to beat him" when in fact zac didn't give a sh!t but mike sure did.

    is this the same thing, abby's going to "bugger up" the australian drean.

    get real you silly little people that think like that.

    it's not a challenge of nations, an America's Cup.

    it's two sailors doing and being allowed and being able to do what they really think they can.

    it's not magic. anyone can do it, that is attempt it.problem is y'all talk yourselves out of it. can't be done, it's magic only the greatest names in sailing are capable of it. yadayadayda.

    As a 17 year old solo navigator recently said 'adults tend to put teens in a box' something to that effect, where in reality the truth is that sailing teens are showing that adults in fact live in a box.

    Quit whining about the Abby's the Jessica's the Laura's under guise of oh my lord how irresponsible,they have no experience, their parents are pushing them for fame and glory and money.

    Fact is how many under 25 year olds are even interesting in sailing their own boats period. Sailing not cool, never was.It's not a teen sport. 3 kids out of how many billion actually have a desire to sail a ridiculous contraption non stop and endure nothing but misery and everyone says its a stunt. Come on! Get with the programme. "Kids" are doing 360's on snowboards, skate boards,moto bikes, where they can in 3 seconds break their necks and die But it's acceptable that's the "youth sport of today".

    Any "kid" actually interested in sailing around the world can do it if they really want to and really try.

    Point is there are no "kids" in the world out there sitting around and moping whinng stomping their feet and cursing their parents, that they want to sail around the world.

    like was said, the reality is it's a handful of youngsters that crop up now and again, that interfere in the so-called adult world of "yachting".

    Yachting being nothing more than the expensive "club house" at the golf course, where we dress nice in all the fancy togs, sit around and talk about how big that fish was that got away.

    Grab a clue..the're natural born sailors and then there's you.

    Waffle around the yacht club till the day you die about could have should have would love to.

    Someone said "do hard things".

    You don't know if you try.

    Earn your grey hairs trying old folk from trying not worrying.

    you'l feel alive and young again!


  26. Hi Abby,
    not long to go now eh! I really am wishing you a safe & successful journey. You are obviously very experienced in ocean sailing, although, I, like a few others, am a tad worried that this is all a bit rushed. I know I would feel less nervous for you if you'd previously spent some time at sea, alone, on Wild Eyes. Preferably in rough conditions. You need to know her, & how she handles all conditions, like the back of your hand!
    Worried Aussie

  27. Sure some interesting discussion
    going on as anticipated departure grows closer. ;-)

    Anonymous posting of 2:03 p.m. presents an eloquent case that some on the site are a bunch of hand-wringers who will soon be proven wrong, as Abby sets sail and day by day makes her journey.

    Anonymous posting of 5:04 p.m. makes an equally strong case about all the things there are to worry about. And some others have spoken about all the electrial and electronics systems that are going into the boat and how it would be great to have hands-on knowledge of all of them.

    Things can certainly go wrong. Right now Dilip Donde is down in the Ferocious 50s approaching Cape Horn with both of his autopilots dead. He's only surviving because he has an old-fashioned, non-electric, non-electronic, wind vane steering system. (I've blog-begged for a vene on Abby's boat, but looking at the photos I can see that it would be difficult to fit one onto the stern of Wild Eyes. At first glance it looks as if a vane would block liferaft access, as well as the all-important escape hatch should her boat go mast-down and stay that way. Still, you'd think someone could engineer a mounting bracket solution -- even if the actual vane was kept down below to keep it fresh in case the electonic autopilots ever do a Dilip Dode and go out.

    A look at shows that Dilip and Jessica could get hit by a 55-knot storm on January 12, with the wave forecast for the day predicting 30-foot seas (think 3-story buildings). (A forecast that far out could diminish ((or grow stronger)) over the next few days.)

    I've already bet an ice-cold one that Abby is heading for the Panama Canal, which would save her from Cape Horn. But there is plenty of big sailing beyond, including Cape of Good Hope (aka the Cape of Storms) and the Indian Ocean and Cape Leeuwin, and all the water in between. These are likely to provide their own set of challenges at one point or another for her and her equipment.

    But perhaps Anonymous 2:03 p.m. is right, and Abby will fly above all of these hazards (and potential electrical/electronic bugs) unscathed.

    (By the Way: For Anonymous posters, perhaps you could use a first name (real or not) at the end of your posts, just in case someone wants to comment on your post one way or the other.)

    What I enjoy about these adventures is that they unfold for us in slow motion -- kind of like the old days when baseball games were transmitted by telegraph, with the results posted for crowds, one pitch at a time.

    So much else in the world seems to happen at hyperspeed. I find it charming to check in now and then just to see what is happening.

    I've been a hand-wringer over one thing or another on this site for a while. That's because having made a few ocean passages the idea of going alone around the world scares the hell out of me. Let it Be Known: Abby is one heck of a lot braver than I am. And so is Jessica, and Zac and Mike.

    I suspect she won't be able to do the trip nonstop -- just because salt water and electronics don't mix -- but however many stops she needs to make along the way, my hope is that she rises to meet every challenge and has a wonderful time doing so.

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  28. 01-06-09 @ 02:17
    For Anonymous: yo! tweet this Whippersnapper!
    There are many of us "Old Farts" that have more respect for the younger generation of sailors than you can imagine. You should show a little respect to your elders and not run your mouth when you don't know what you're talking about. Don't bunch us all together just because you got your nose tweaked somewhere along the line. I'm pushing 75 hard, and I'm 100% behind Jessica, Abby and Laura. If I had known anything about sailing when Zac and Mike were into it, I would have been behind them as well. So don't put us all in the same category. Think before you speak.
    There are a lot of young people that are against these girls right now, people that don’t know them and only see an age#.
    Some day, if you’re lucky, you will be an “Old Fart”, think about it.
    Have a nice day. Now, I’m pissed and I have to get my geritol!!!!!
    Michael(74)from Kingwood, WV

  29. This is Abby's trip
    I doubt she needs help sailing
    Its Solo Non Stop Unassisted trip
    Zac will be no help to her as his trip was not Non Stop and Unassisted

    I think everybody should give her a chance to prove herself

    Good Luck and let the winds be kind

  30. Steve,

    Anyone who truly believes this trip will be Non Stop Unassisted is, in my considered opinion, dreaming. Read most any small-boat account of Cape Horn roundings and lengthy (60+ days) Southern Ocean passages, whether recent accounts, or the older classic ones (like Robin Knox-Johnston's "A World of My Own", etc.), and you will see that pitchpoles, capsizes, roll-overs, or at the very least 90-degree knockdowns with mast in the water --or even just major gear failures like blown out sails, failed autopilots, etc.-- are an almost guaranteed part of the deal. Forty to sixty knot storms are not that unusual down there, and the confused, breaking large seas they produce can be very destructive to boat and crew (and morale). It's one thing to do a solo circumnavigation via the Tropics, as Zac did --an accomplishment, to be sure, at any age. But unassisted non-stop via the Southern Ocean is vastly different.

    Those good-intention well-wishers here probably have no clue about any of this. Zac's voyage was entirely different, and hugely less risky, than Abby's proposed nonstop unassisted Southern Ocean voyage. That's just a simple fact. Such a journey is very risky, no matter the boat or sailor.

    And to the person above (Anonymous Jan 5, 2:38 p.m.) claiming it just takes youthful energy and determination, and who dismisses old dreamers who talk but never leave the dock --I suggest you read about what sailing alone for months at a time non-stop and unassisted through the Southern Ocean entails. (Especially by someone who has never done anything close to that.) This will give you a realistic perspective on Zac's voyage vs. Abby's proposed (and Jessica Watson's actual) voyage --very serious and dangerous business it usually is.


  31. Hi, Abby.
    Just ignore the negative comments.
    I support you and will encourage you
    Luv u
    Richard (QLD) Aus

  32. "On the job training Abby!"

    Newsflash....she's going no matter what any of us think of all this.

    It's a long slog down the coast before getting into really dangerous conditions. From what I can determine, Abby has no experience offshore solo. But after a few weeks, she will have more then most of us, and that first few weeks experience won't be at Cape Horn. There will be plenty of time to read the manuals, and twist the knobs on all the new electronics. The future broken autopilots on Wild Eyes are going to determine the outcome of this attempt I believe. Backup windvane steering can be mounted off center, and should be installed right now. And I respect your team for not censoring all the comments on this blog for a change, and letting in contrary opinions.

    I wish her the best. This is going to be fun to watch.

  33. That's the whole point.

    One never knows until they try.

    Text books are re-written all the time.


  34. Hi Abby!

    Richard (QLD), being concerned is not a negative thing.

    Age is not the biggest concern, maturity, experience, strenght is what matters.
    You dont start building a house if you dont have all that matters to finish it. You dont go to war if you dont have what it needs to win it. You dont go sailing around the world if everything, every aspect of it is ready, tested and retested.

    I hope everything goes well for Abby, my concerns are not intended to be negative, I wish they are nonsense, so it means everthing is ok and she will be able to handle the boat in all the weather conditions that comes her way.

    God bless,


  35. Bonjour Abby,

    With your permission:

    To some of the anonymous-JohnMcEnroe's who have been writing from the side of their desks, understand that this website is not a forum but Abby's blog.
    Please behave and offer constructive criticism in your future comments.

    Thank you Abby,

    Be Abby, stay Abby

  36. @45 31 ... writes about "anonymous-JohnMcEnroe's" and urges all to "Please behave and offer constructive criticism in your future comments."

    The criticism I've seen here has been constructive and thoughtful and very well intentioned, as in: This might save your life. or This might make your voyage more enjoyable.

    If Abby and the team read the comments, they may even prove to be helpful.

    Saying: "Be Abby, stay Abby" or "U Go Gurl!" provides a nice and cheerful message to her.

    But it won't help her if her second autopilot goes out in the Roaring 40s or the Ferocious 50s and she doesn't have a backup non-electrical, non-electronic wind vane.

    If her boat gets stuck in a storm without some sort of self-steering mechanism, she could die.

    The same isn't true of Jessica Watson's boat. Jessica Watson is in a magnificently designed bluewater vessel (Sparkman&Stephens 34) that has more than 50 percent of its displacement in its keel. What does this mean? If it gets hit by a surprise 45-foot rogue wave, or broaches badly in a following sea, or pitch-poles coming off a big wave, her boat may go over, but it will come back upright.

    In Abby's ultra-ultra light displacement boat, if she capsizes, it may very well stay capsized. This is why her boat is equipped with an escape hatch built into the transom. The designer assumed that if her boat capsized it wouldn't right itself, and she would have to crawl out the escape hatch and try to cling to her upside down boat until a freighter, fishing vessel, or (if near enough shore) helicopter can pluck her off.

    Will both of her autopilots go out?

    Probably not.

    But you don't have to read many accoutns of circumnavigators to find plenty of stories about electronic self steering units (and all manner of other electronics) that do go out.

    If she accomplishes her voyage without the autopilots going out, will that make me a fool for suggesting she have a backup vane?

    If she does lose both of her electronic autopilots (as is the case with Dilip Donde right now as he approaches Cape Horn) will that make Abby a fool for not packing a backup vane?

    @45 31 also says that "this web site is not a forum but Abby's blog."

    The Comments section of a blog is a forum.

    I've been among many who have complimented the Blog Master for allowing this rich discussion.

    The alternative is to disable the comments, or to filter out the comments so that all we see are: "Be Abby, stay Abby" and the like.

    If this happens, Abby will lose much of her online community. Which wouldn't be the end of the world, but I tend to think she would like to have a large following (Jessica Watson gets 350 to 500+ comments on most of her blog entries).

    Good News: As has been noted in earlier posts, so much of the current giving of advice and discussion will end as soon as Abby begins her voyage.

    Once she departs MDR it won't do much good to suggest she might be more comfortable with a dodger, or that she might be safer with a non-electric, non-electronic wind vane self-steering unit, or that she might want to pack an extra sail in case she shreds one or two on the trip.

    Until then, it hardly seems John McEnroe-like to suggest: Don't leave home without them.

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  37. Well said Grant. Not everyone is buying into this "Rah rah, don't listen to them Abby" mentality. There have been successful climbs of Mt. Everest, but that doesn't mean that every mountain climber is equipped to handle this mountain.

    I don't actually care whether the blog moderator allows all comments or not. Whether they do or whether they don't, a number of people with actual sailing experience want the best for this young climber, but aren't sure she's ready for Everest.

  38. Here here Grant Fjermedal!
    Well said!

  39. Meet Abigail (Abby) Sunderland

    Abby Sunderland turned sixteen in October 2009. To the outward observer, she is a seemingly cleancut, All-American girl…the second of seven children. But inside of Abby, a passion burns. Since becoming a teenager, she has had her sights set on making history as the youngest person, male or female, to circumnavigate the world. Not only does she plan to accomplish this feat alone and unassisted, she plans to do it without once taking refuge on land. Aboard an Open 40 racing sailboat, Abby will embark on her voyage in December 2009 from Marina del Rey, California. By April 2010, Abby plans to have made history.

    A Lifetime of Training
    Abby has an extensive sailing background, being raised in and around sailboats. She has accumulated thousands of miles of coastal cruising through a number of hazardous weather conditions. Team Abby, passionately led by Laurence, is dedicated to preparing her for the fearsome rigors of the southern seas and other anticipated challenges.

    Records... Made to be Broken
    Abby's older brother Zac made worldwide headlines in July 2009 when, at 17, he became the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the world, sailing 27,500 nautical miles in 13 months. Not to be outdone, English teenager Mike Perham broke Zac's record roughly one month later, completing his journey also at the age of 17 but two months Zac's junior. Unintimidated by the success of two 17 year-old boys (and particularly motivated by her brother's dethronement), Abby is vying to smash Perham's freshly forged record.

    Born: 10.19.1993
    Hometown: Thousand Oaks, California
    Started Sailing: 6 months
    Family: Second of 7 kids
    Interests: Sailing, adventure, art, animals
    Quote: "I had begun to think that dreams are meant to be no more than dreams and that in reality dreams don't come true. Then my brother (Zac) left on his trip. It was amazing to see all the support that he got from around the world and to see how everyone worked together to help make his dream reality. Watching him do this really made me believe that I could too."

    I have written this to try and inform anonymous, that before this person starts putting there foot in their mouth any further to read all about Abby and learn to understand where she is coming from and that she has more years of experience than Jessica on open sea sailing. The class of yachts chosen by these two adventurous young ladies is like chalk and cheese, one is a racing design and one a cruising design.
    I wonder if Anonymous would prefer Abby to go down town at night and not being all that street wise finish up being bashed or worse by the elements that she could run into, sailing around the world with the knowledge of her upbringing around boats and water as well as her sailing skills to me far out ways the above.

    For the skeptics, you have to have sailed and enjoyed the experience to really understand, as well as her family supporting her because they believe in her as their daughter, and her skills.

    Abby for-fill your ambitions and dreams.

    Hervey Bay, Queensland. Australia.

  40. This is all tame compared to what was posted when Zac began his voyage :-) good thing religion has been brought in this time round hehehe...

    Grant I don't think that is right. I remember researching Mike's open 50 at the time. These Open 40, 50 60 class race boats are governed by with specific rules that the boats are to be self-righting. Videos been posted before of an Open 60 with a canting keel self-righting from 180. In the Open 40 and 50 I believe the self-righting is ballast driven. If you recall Mike was consantly adjusting his ballast. Quick looking Abby's got two 750 liter ballast tanks, one on each side. That's 750 KG if filled on each side. The 10 ft keel with lead bulb at the end is part of the design. I think the weight of that bulb is 950 KG. Boat weighs in a 3.3 tons 3300 KG. The whole idea being if the boat does go over, the is to get that keel tipping in order to right the boat. That's where the ballast tanks come in, fill one side and away we go. What's not clear to me and believe you me I ain't no expert other than remembering what I read a while ago, is whether their is a pump for the ballasts as well that is if they are full all the time and you can adjust by pumping out water on the fly, or are they to be kept empty all the time and filled as needed? Maybe an exerpt can chime in ? Also while those Open 60 demo videos are impressive, what about a mast full of sails? Or do only dismasted vessels roll over completely? The other thing I do recall and what's interesting at least to me, is that the low profile wide and rounded cabin roof is an integral design to the self righting of the boats. I can't recall where the data was I had read but tons of info about it all out there, might even be in the site if you dig deep enough.

  41. To Grant

    To the best of my knowledge, a purely mechanical wind-vane style autohelm won't work on a boat going faster than about 10 knots - Abby's will easily do twice that.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong - I'm no expert.

    To Marina,

    If you really believe it's necessary to be 100% prepared for this sort of trip, I suggest you read the books by Jesse Martin and Kay Cottee of their circumnavigations. It was a real eye opener for me to see how little preparation they did and how quickly they learnt along the way.

    To Abby

    All the best for a safe and wild adventure. Common sense is far more important than hours on the water (of which you'll soon have many more than most of those writing).

    Best wishes

  42. Wow!!!
    You go Grant! Be Grant, stay Grant!
    I mean're right on the mark!

  43. A correction to my earlier post - at Grant - after more research I believe the problem with wind vane steering is to do with boats that surf easily, rather than just the outright speed. I believe Abby's boat is a surfing machine, and therefore the apparent wind over the vane can do nasty things to the steering when it's surfing down waves - with equally nasty consequences...


  44. 01-07-09 @ 00:31
    Hi Abby,
    Well, it looks like the ‘Great Debate’ is still going on. Since I’m only an ‘armchair sailor’ I don’t know enough about, what sails are needed or what type of equipment is necessary, when you should go or where you should go, so I’ll leave that up to the more experienced sailors in the group. There’s a lot of good, sensible and experienced people offering you sound advice, I can only suggest that you pick through them and take the comments and advice that pertains to you and your boat, but as I have said before you are the one that has to be satisfied, it’s your adventure. Last, but not least, don’t forget your Father, who knows the boat, and your brother Zac, who knows the sea. I’m sure you’ll make the right decisions.
    I’m sure you’re aware that we, the fans, haven’t heard from Jessica lately, but the Shore Crew hasn’t mentioned anything either, so I can only assume that all is well, at least as well as expected seeing where she’s at.

    For Grant Fjermedal:
    Very nice post, well said, Thank you.

    Well Abby, Take good care of yourself, and I’m still looking forward to that “Sailing Day”.
    Good luck to you Abby, and may God bless and guide you.
    Michael(74)from Kingwood, WV

  45. Hezakiah299, I'm with you,Michael. Where are them scallywags when we need them? :-}

    From Seattle, WA, USA

  46. Spot on Grant!

  47. Obviously, Abby has an extremely experienced, capable team. Although there are many bloggers who have the experience and knowledge to offer constructive suggestions that may or may not be helpful to Abby’s group, the majority of those writing don’t have those qualifications and have only their morale support to offer. Helping with the solitude and grueling mental aspect of a solo circumnavigation by providing positive comments is how most bloggers can really contribute to Abby’s cause. Grant Fjermedal, I hope that you and other’s with the qualifications continue to offer your technical suggestions. But let’s not minimize the importance of those who only want to offer their supportive comments to Abby. After all, none of the 67,000 cheering fans in the stands at Qwest field will ever handle the football during a Seahawk game, but the 12th man is honored before every home game. I know, I know, maybe the Seahawks should have fielded a team comprised of fans out of the stands this year. But that’s certainly not the situation with Abby’s very knowledgeable team.

    From Seattle, WA, USA

  48. Not a lot of info on the coursemaster site, however looking around for Wind Vane and Control Head shows a raymarine setup. Seems pretty straight forward "plug and play" looks like it's still electronics though, not a typical mechanical windvane steering direct to the rudders:

  49. Grant - you speak a lot of sense. I particularly liked your earlier plan of shortened boom to make chinese jybes more survivable.

    Here's a legit question that I don't know the answer to. Can a windvane really work on an open 40?

    My only extended experience with one is a 70's vintage aries kit, and I would say it was fine to cope with the long-keeler it was on, and even with a S&S 34 (although perhaps not downwind in steep seas and a blow - the S&S gets a bit skittish under these circumstances)but would struggle to keep up with less directional stability. Is there a history of using windvanes in this sort of boat?

    IF the answer is yes, it is a no-brainer. Ultimately, if all power is gone, you still want to be able to sail the boat to somewhere. Autopilots will not do that for you.


  50. Grant,

    Very insightful comments (as always). At the risk of sounding repetitive (repeating what others have said), at this point I'm really looking forward to hearing more details of Abby's plans --intended route and intended departure date.

    While I can well imagine the incredible stresses and strains and uncertainties involved in preparing for such a venture, and I know that deadlines and plans change, I'm quite surprised that more details on route and departure date have not yet been forthcoming. The original stated departure date was December, which was postponed; and now it's already January 7. As for route, "alone and unassisted" is what can be found on her site --clearly, this must rule out the Panama Canal, which would be an assisted 'leg' between Pacific and Atlantic no matter how one defines "unassisted". Which then leads to Cape Horn and timing questions for that area and the Southern Ocean.

    All this to say that I'm really looking forward to more details from Project Global Breeze on departure date possibilities, route possibilities, timing, etc. It's all very exciting and I truly wish her the very best. Jessica Watson's journey must be very inspiring --and challenging!-- for Abby to watch right now. May they both stay safe.


  51. that we've got that out of our systems :-)


    1. Before Abby takes of can we get a nice HD video tour of the boat inside and out, nice crystal clear close ups of every thing. Maybe even a walking talking tour by Abby herself?

    2. Toby appears to be the official cameraman this time around, same same nice crystal clear HD vide of Abby's departure, from land to onboard to shipping out to from the chase boat as she sets sail.


  52. Hi Abby,
    Heard about you and your coming adventure for the first time today from a comment made on Jessica's blog and see others from her site here also. Almost like a family of followers. Vicarious living at it's best! You young courageous people amaze me with your high tech boats. Once being a pilot I love the look of your twin wind generators. Very cool! Hope you are able to start soon and looking forward to your attempt.

  53. The forum debate is very interesting and as said those with experience have put forward some very good onfo. (Grant)

    I would like to say at this point as it is getting closer to Abby's departure day that we keep her thoughts to the foreground and not let her sail without all our support and good wishes for her adventure.
    Below is an extract from Jessica's last blog and her experience.

    Closing in on the Cape. EPL, Thursday 7th January 2010

    The wind hit 40 knots again on Tuesday which kept life interesting and a little bouncy. Since then it's steadily dropped off to my current 8 knots today, which is really only just enough to keep us moving, slowly!

    In typical Southern Ocean style, the visibility hasn't been great with almost constant light, misty drizzle and not the slightest hint of a clear sky. But no complaints from me. Like I've said before, in its own way it's just as pretty as sunshine and blue water. Looking at it another way, you could always say that at least the low visibility means that you can see very little of the bad weather!

    The good news is that I was able to fix the little problem with the main sheet block easily. But the bad news is that despite spending yesterday morning trying to fix the heater, it still won't play nice! Oh well, on the scale of things the heater not working really isn't much of a problem, just one of those optional extras.

    I'm really starting to get pretty excited about Cape Horn as we're getting so close now, with just over 500nm to go!


    Hervey Bay. Queensland. Australia.

  54. Almost all of the early BOC solo round the world racers had mechanical windvane steering such as the "Monitor" Many of those boats were fast, and capable of surfing. The windvane will be a backup in case the electronic pilots fail. Mike Pernham's pilot troubles ruined his ultimate record plans. Jessica's boat is steered by vane, and has been far more reliable then Mike's high tech boat. If Abby loses her electronic pilots, and has to use back up vane steering, she might have to slow her boat down to sub surfing speeds, but she wouldn't have to stand out in the sleet and hand steer. Having a vane would at least allow her to rest below, and choose how much she was exposed and steered. I have personally surfed over 15 knotts with my Monitor vane steering my 42' boat without any trouble, so don't under estimate the power of these modern vanes. On another offshore passage when the auto pilot failed, and I didn't have vane steering, I had to hand steer for a week streight. Hand steering while exhausted will make you want to give up sailing and move to Montana like Robin Lee Graham.... Stephen Mann on his modified Wylie 39 used wind vane steering. His electronic autopilot failed. The Wylie 39 is a fast fin keeled boat. There is still time to get the vane bolted on back there.

  55. Anonnymous at 11.22:

    The sort of windvane you found on the Raymarine site is not what Grant and others are talking about. This interfaces directly with autopilots, so while you can be confident that Abby will have this type of control unit on her autopilots (otherwise the boat would steer a compass course only, and she would have to re-trim sails every time these was a small shift in wind direction)it does not solve any of the inherent problems of relying totally on electronic gadgets in the marine environment (their worst enemy).

    A totallly mechanical system is what 'team concern' are calling for. While Dilip Donde is cursing the fact that both his autopilots have failed near the horn, he still has a windvane to steer for him.....he is just miffed about the fact that he has lost the push-button convenience of sailing from inside the cabin.

    Having said that, Dilip is sailing a (fairly powerful) cruising boat. I am still not at all convinced that it is possible to use a windvane on a boat as responsive as an open 40...

  56. By that t a truism nonetheless that people will follow where someone they see as an expert leadI mean latching on to this or that latest, most innovative idea that some self styled money making guru has put out in the hope it’ll go viral and make them a lot of money off the backs of all the headless chickens who will follow them blindly down a blind alley. Its a shame bus. Even if they lead them to certain disaster, which is what most of the gurus tend to do to their flocks

  57. Hi Abby,
    Just wanted to wish you well and send hopes that you will have a safe trip.
    Believing in yourself is all that matters.
    And you seem to have plenty of belief in yourself.
    Follow your dream,
    Maryland USA

  58. Hope all is well with you Abby. I like many others are sincerely worried about you. There is a lot of evil in our beautiful world these days but hopefully with many prayers you will do find...carolyn

  59. Abby...your living the dream.The good..and the just plain But all totalled up,nothing short of fantastic. Take it in..and enjoy! Best wishes and we'll check in.