Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Update from Marina del Rey

Its been great having Wild Eyes here. Today we had the rigger come out and the electrician. We'll hopefully be pulling the boat out of the water on Thursday. We're waiting for her custom cradle to be delivered from Mexico.

Its been pretty busy around here but I've got a bit of time now so I thought I would address some of your concerns. A lot of the criticism I have received is understandable and somewhat due to a lack of information. First, I will be doing a shakedown trip before I leave. The weather around our local Channel Islands is some of the worst you can get around here.

Second, Cape Horn is not for sure. I am keeping open the option of going through Panama as Mike Perham did depending on weather and timing. Also, the non-stop part of my trip is an attempt, and I acknowledge that it is a very difficult thing to achieve.

Sailing this type of boat is not at all something new for me. I have sailed around 1,500 miles on Wild Eyes. I know the boat back and forth and, I assure, you the weather was not perfect through all of that. While I was not completely alone on Wild Eyes single-handing is definitely not as new of an experience as many if you seem to think. Before I leave I will have spent plenty of time sailing her alone.

I appreciate your concerns. Even if it means waiting another whole year, I will not go until the boat and I are ready. We are going for this year and if all goes well I should be able to get out in time, but if i do have to wait, whats the big deal? I've already got an amazing boat and parents willing to help me, it will just give me more time to prepare.

I really hope that this has helped to ease some of your concerns



  1. It seems clear that you and your family have been methodically, and correctly, proceeding along the steps required to position you for making an attempt this year. Don't concern yourself overly with comments from the mob.

    Just keep on checking off those milestones, training hard, and enjoying the process, and it'll come together. Cheers.

  2. Abby,

    Thanks for your post.
    Planning is everything and Im glad you are taking your time to prepare your adventure. Wish you the best.

    Is Wild Eyes available to see at the Marina?


  3. Very re-assuring! Good to see some level-headed wisdom coming through. As you say, a lack of information or out-of-date information has been the issue. "Leaving December 09" is still the strong message that has been coming across. It is good to see that date alone is not dicatating departure.

    The non-stop and the unasissted parts of the trip are out the window if you go through Panama - however this is probably a wise decision (or go next year). The idea to be the first is not critical. If you engage in the right way, blog in an open and honest way and have the right people on shore, you can still capture the imagination of the planet....go girl, but go safely, when the time is righ

  4. Hi Abby, you sound like a very sensible level-headed young lady to me, sounds like you are being thorough in your preparations for your world trip and with something of this scale one certainly needs to be. I was reading Jessica's blog and she too dreamt of sailing around the globe from an early age and she and her support crew put in many, many months of preparation, so you can never be too prepared, Jessica also wrote in one of her pre-sail blogs that she wasn't so obsessed with the non-stop aspect of her journey and that safety does come first and if required. And you feel Panama is the way to go for you to go well that is sensible. The main thing is your fufilling your dreams, and doing what you love. I wish both of you the very best with your trips, you about to leave soon and Jesssica now entering into the challenging seas of the Southern Ocean.

    Perth, Western Australia

  5. Dear Abby,

    You are a very wise young lady and I know you will do everything to be fully prepared for this journey of a lifetime. You have a great team of supporters with a wealth of knowledge to make sure that everything is as perfect as it possibly can be for you to set sail. Just keep focused on that amazing goal you have and keep talking to all those positive people who will inspire you.

    Thanks for giving us you latest update.

    I have never sailed on a yacht before, just a small fishing boat and know NOTHING about sailing so appreciate how you are explaining everything in layman's terms. I'll be a sailing expert with all your knowledgeable information about sailing by the end of your voyage :-) .

    Kindest regards from Jan (Auckland, New Zealand)

    You answer all the questions just the right way.
    Panama, non-stop, readiness, time: A+
    I have no more concerns, as you look quite conscious of every touchy point.

    So just one more thing to tell you: Good luck!
    I shall follow your daring challenge. (I prefer that to a crazy bet!).

    Work well and keep us informed...

  7. Abby --

    Thanks for the great post.

    Your message relieves the concern that you were laser-focused on rounding Cape Horn just to race Jessica Watson for the record.

    Your more relaxed attitude should make life easier and your journey safer and more enjoyable.

    As others have posted: If you have to put into port somewhere for repairs . . . No Big Deal. The joy is in the journey.

    And as far as Cape Horn goes, the Panama Canal sounds like a very nice place to visit. ;-)

    Wishing You All the Best,

    -- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  8. Great answer - what a way to silence the critics... I really hope the trolls give it a rest, now!

  9. We can of course also go East-to-West to round Cape Horn summer 2010/11 (Dec/Jan). That would give you a 4 or 5 months from today departure date - ample time to sort everything out - vs. waiting nearly an entire year just leave and catch the window West-to-East.

    Let's really scare "them" and say we'll flip a coin on what to do :-)))

  10. Honestly if your going to do this do it right- nonstop around the world, just do it next year. That is ultimately the "real" record. I'm sorry but this assisted record throught the Panama canal is nonsense, specially in a boat "made" for the southern ocean. What made Zac trip compelling was the fact that his boat cost $6000. And, consquentially what made Perhams trip silly was that he had a big fancy race boat and did use it as specified.

    I'm for waiting a year really get to know your boat and beat jessicas record in a different way do it in less time.

  11. Abby,
    You're fine. If you go through Panama, I'll bet you have a hundred volunteer line handlers. I hope that your mom or someone else is handling the critical emails for you. Remember, every captain has doubts. It's part of the job. But have your own doubts, not everyone else's.
    Fair winds.

  12. Go when you, the weather, and the boat are ready. Any earlier is not wise. Most critics have never sailed anything out of a bath tub.

  13. 12-09-09 @15:40
    Hi Abby,
    Thanks for the latest post and well said.
    People don't always know the person. The media puts out the information that a teenager is going to sail around the world, and the public immediately jumps to conclusions. Now, with a little more detailed information, maybe they'll look at you differently. I hope so.
    I came across a news article about how you were delivering sailboats for your Dad when you were 13. To me that shows how much trust your Dad had in your ability to handle a boat.
    But the bottom line is to ignore the doubters and sail on.
    Good luck to you Abby, and may God bless and guide you.
    Looking forward to your next blog.
    Michael(74)from Kingwood, WV

  14. Trolls? honestly anon, because capable people show concern and care, daring to ask important questions is not a bad thing.

    Abby Has chosen to do this journey in the public eye, that will of course elicit comments, but i don't think I have scene a single comment that wasn't showing care and concern. Just because it isn't what "you" want to hear doesn't make it wrong.

    Abby- Jesus answered his critics, he did not hide or backdown that is how Christainity became. As long as your decision are thoughtful and with respect to that which you are trying to do you answering everyones questions can only be a good thing.

  15. Hello Abby,

    First time posting... I just wanted to wish you well in preparing for and achieving your aspirations.

    I won't be getting involved in the dispute of your planned journey but I must say, I am enjoying the pre-launch banter as it were. Please don't feel obliged to answer any of us knuckleheads directly, as this expedition is yours and yours alone (family excepted). Untold well-wishers and supporters will be climbing aboard to follow your blog the moment you set sail, so no worries about keeping the naysayers satisfied, OK? And please, for Mom and Dads sake, don’t feel obligated to run-down any tankers during your shakedown cruise just to show your detractors that you can handle some adversity ( I’m jesting!)

    Just one more item; your blogs followers (including me) will be craving pictures of even the most mundane of things (even a new shackle, lol) so if you want to keep interest up, photograph everything!

    I'll be following your blog and saying hello from time to time, so thanks in advance for taking the time to blog your adventure! Good luck with your sponsors and the fitting-out of WILD EYES and I hope you make your weather window this season.

    Don’t let yourself get discouraged and keep up your morale.

    Best of luck,

    Mike D
    Landlocked in Philadelphia, Pa

    P.S. Happy Holidays!

  16. Thank you, Abby -- it's great to hear the plans and preparations directly from you. Looking forward to reading more about how it is all going and how the plans shape out... In the meantime, sending you and your family my best wishes as always. Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

  17. Abby your latest Update from Marinia Del Rey is shows that you are mature and ready to use wisdom and sound judgement concerning this project Traits that will help you acomplish your dream in due time. It seems as though you young potential circumnavigators are capable of wisdom beyond your years ! And are able to function on a level that even some who are older are not able ! Blessings and Best Wishes

  18. Abby, thank you for the very thoughtful and well written blog. I believe it comes across that you enjoy sailing, want to sail around the world by yourself, and you are going to have fun doing it. The details of Cape Horn vs Panama, this year vs next year, stop or not stop. Those are important only if one places the focus on setting a specific record. If the focus is on your dream and sailing around the world because its a dream, then go for it whenever the time feels right. And if you have to stop, then stop. It will still be an amazing achievement that most of us would only dream about or be scared to do in my case. I have an amazing amount of respect for you after this honest assessment of where you are. Thank you and best wishes for a successful trip. I am very much looking forward to following your adventure.
    Dwight from North Carolina

  19. Wooo mr Anonymous December 9, 2009 7:21 AM :

    Suggesting E-W around...sounds like a good plan timewise until you realise that Wild Eyes goes to windward like bricks don't (with apologies to Douglas Adams)...Wild Eyes is not a boat for going the wrong way against prevailaing wind. If you look back at Abby's blog when they coverd 40 nm to windward in an entire night with fairly strong breeze, you will see that she may be using a walking frame before she gets back from and E-W around.

  20. Sorry to sound negative
    What is all the talk of the Panama Canal.
    You have the Training, the know how and the boat.
    Do it the long way round, no short cuts, no easy options.
    Records are there to be broken
    Solo , non stop, unassisted, no motors

    we have faith in your ability

    As nike say's
    Just do it!

    Stay safe
    Sydney Australia

  21. That is a very interesting senerio to your thoughts on departure,and the correct time to leave. If you wait 12 months you will not become the youngest person to sail solo unassisted around the world. The other decision is your window of opportunity available to you with the summer in the southern hemisphere for sailing below the 40'S. I am glad that you know your abilities and the strength of Wild Eyes in your solo control.
    I personally admire your will to push forward to achieve your dream, the same as Jessica Watson.
    Will talk later.
    Hervey Bay, Queensland AU.

  22. Ha, ha, ha! There is some fun debating about the different would-dos, isn't it?
    The main point is that Abby showed, in her post, how conscious and mature she is. So everyone, from well-wishers to nay-sayers, optimistic or fearful, can be sure that Ms Sunderland (and her team) will take the right decision, well balanced and thouroughly weighted. What more are we allowed to ask for?
    The twin goal is for Abby to enjoy her adventure, and minimizing the risks (that can't be null anyway).
    Let's her live her life, her sailing, the way she feels. The only condition was to check if she was not heading, by some childish game, in a dangerous trap. We know it is not the case. Relax!

    We trust you and your judgement, Abby.

  23. I'm with Mike D! Tons of pictures of everything and anything please. Meanwhile just came across some nice big new pictures of Wild Eyes being off-loaded in Ensenada on the main website page slide show: http://abbysunderland.org/ the boat looks really clean, no wear and tear on the graphics which look awesome. One thing though :-( I think you have to cut your hair really short when you leave, dangerous getting caught in moving parts while out there. And if you going to shorten the boom, keep that Grateful Dead sticker, somehow got a feeling it's a good omen :-)

  24. There is only one record [around the world nonstop unassisted] anything else is just cruising. There is a reason so few achieve this goal- it's extremely difficult. Jessica Watson hasn't yet - and with all respect and best wishes, the reality is the odds aren't with her making it. Stay focused on your goal do things pragmatically, learn the skills you'll need to keep your boat going (electronics, mechanics, sailing, boat repair), and leave when "your" ready. But, not if you feel rushed. Don't worry about what anyone elses is doing.
    The realities of this kind of sailing are; keep the boat functioning, safety, and prudence

    This is about surviving as much as achieving, and though, doable, you are truly putting your life on the line to achieve this goal.

    Every two year (or is it 4 year), when they have the around the world race someone doesn't return.

  25. You are doing great Abby. I cannot wait to follow your adventure as I followed Zac's, but take all the time it needs to get prepared for the adventure.

    All the best,

  26. one post and this girl that everyone seems to know from reading a few blogs is 100% to sail solo round the world. the only one that may know if she's ready is Abby herself!

  27. Dear Abby:

    Even though we are neighbors (I live in Newbury Park), no doubt we have never met.

    I wish you the very best, and offer one thought for you: It’s your life and you must live your dream. While you should listen to what wiser and more experienced people have to offer, in the end the decisions you make must be for you.

    Best of luck !!


  28. I for one, would still like to see a bit more campaign modesty (for example, a website tagline that reads "ATTEMPTING TO BECOME the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe by sea"--in fairness to those young sailors who have already achieved this goal) and a lot more information regarding the specific preparations being made by 'Team Abby' (NOT that the latter is owed to the public by any means, but this IS afterall, a sponsored campaign being waged publicly by Abby's choice).

    Age has absolutely nothing to do with my concern. If Abby is prepared to take on the challenge at 16, then terrific...I'm all for it. In fact, I think it's fantastic that a crop of young sailors are dreaming big at a time when big dreams seem to be in short supply in the world!

    Sure, the waters beyond the Channel Islands can be rough at times as Abby points out (in reference to her planned sea trials on Wild Eyes), but nothing like being out of range of the USCG with no one to depend on but yourself. The recent sail up the coast of Florida sounded like a bit of weather, but there were other sailors on board Wild Eyes to assist should something have gone wrong (as was the case on the recent sail up from Ensenada). This is not the same as sailing solo.

    Now, I'll be the first to admit that after Balloon Boy and the White House gate crashers & "reality" television in general, I've become a bit jaded. I would just like to hope that no aspect of this particular endeavor is being driven by anything other than a totally honest assessment of Abby's readiness.

    And if, as a young solo sailor, Abby is in fact ready to accept this immense challenge with maturity and safety and the requisite skill sets required...then I would be the last person to want to deny someone their dream!

  29. Abby,
    I am confident that you will make the right decision, and you are more than capable to accomplish what you set out to do. You have amazing parents, and family. Follow your heart!


  30. Of course the big difference between this voyage and a race is that you don't have the luxury of slowing down or waiting during a race. You got to go from point A to point B asap regardless. In this case, Abby can of course hang out just before the Cape and wait for a window. The point with summer /autumn is that there are windows, intermittent weather systems whereas in winter it's constant. For example the weather today as of right now:

    wind 20kts
    seas 18ft

    followed by

    winds 10kts
    seas 6ft

    if you animate it, you can see over the course of 3 days:


    compared to constant 50kts winds and 30ft seas in the winter and ice.

    None of this is new, and one need not have to imagine Abby's getting the very best advice and real time data and course planning if and when. :-)

  31. I agree
    "There is only one record [around the world nonstop unassisted] anything else is just cruising"
    Take your time , Prepare well and go for it

  32. 12-11-09 @23:15
    Hi Abby,
    Just wanted to touch base with you and see how things are going.( I’m being nosy) I understand you have some work to do and that you were also going to make a shakedown run. Not a bad idea, get all the bugs worked out. Better now than later. How do things look, in regards to a departure date?
    Take care of yourself and don’t work to hard.
    Good luck to you Abby, and may God bless and guide you.
    Looking forward to your next blog.
    Michael(74)from Kingwood, WV

  33. Hey Abby, I see where you made the cover of the January Latitudes and Attitudes magazine! Haven't read the story yet but I will soon. Congratulations!