Thursday, January 7, 2010

More Preparations

Hey Everyone,
Things are going well over here. I stayed home for a little while this morning so I could write a blog, answer a few emails, and finish some packing. It really is quite amusing reading all your comments and seeing the assumptions some of you make! As if my saying that I'm not much use on the boat these days means that I don't know a thing about boats and I'm useless! I'm sorry but I couldn't help laughing a little at that one :)

I meant it only as I am not the best at installing watermakers, auto pilots and running complex wiring... and packing for this trip is something that does need to be done carefully. I have spent many days annoying the electricians with my questions and having them carefully explain their installations. As for whether or not I'm rushing, I answered that in an older blog and I'm not doing it again. We are working hard, fast and carefully.

Any way, I really do enjoy reading all of your comments and I have to say it makes me really happy to see those of you who support Jesse and I both! Yesterday afternoon another sponsor hopped on board, so after the meeting we got in the car and headed off to San Diego for the main sail to have a new logo put on it.

While we were there we also met with Stephen Mann. He is an amazing guy who got back last year from a trip around the world with the same route as me. He made it around in 8 months, spending two months at different stops and six months sailing. His boat is a lot like mine (on the outside at least) and so it was good to talk to him about his trip. He had a lot of useful tips - things like keeping out a small drogue. He said he played around with different sizes and that a very small one took a lot of stress off the autopilot and didn't slow the boat down at all.

Steven is really an amazing guy, of course he's an adult so he didn't get a load a criticism about his trip but he's one of those people that definitely has his head on straight. He said that of course it is going to be hard, and being a girl and not as strong as him or my brother, it will be even harder. But strength isn't something impossible to work around. Things are harder and may take longer and that's the end of the strength issue.

Steven is one of those people that look on life as an adventure. No matter the situation it is really what you make of it - whether you're going through an ordeal or having an adventure. It's the same with every thing in life, its all how you look at it and what you choose to make of it. Your attitude is the one thing you can always control. He helped me remember why I'm doing this. It has been my dream, a goal I have been working towards for years.

So even though I'm not doing this all exactly as some of you would do it, I hope you can overlook a few differences and enjoy following my adventure! :)

As far as the technical advice, we appreciate that too. We do have a very qualified team. Since we are waiting a few days for the main sail, my dad may knock up a hard dodger similar to Zac's while we're waiting as that would definitely be a good thing.

I'm off to the boat for some instruction in my new autopilots, and the incredible Thrane & Thrane Sailor 250 system.



  1. Abby,
    You go girl! One day at a time, all that matters is your family and your team you built, just keep doing what you are doing and laughing at those comments that are....silly I'll call them.
    Everyone will have opinions & suggestions, some good, some ahh..not so good, like I said focus on your team and family....thats all that matters now...

    Will be following you closely on your journey as I do Jesse, I am not a sailor but a power boater, but we all have one thing in common, our love for the sea!

    My son 13 & daughter 11 are cheering you on also.....

    Big wishes from this little state of Delaware...

    Remember One day at a time.....

    The Smiths In De!

  2. Keep up the good work, Abby...and never mind the nay-sayers. Wshing you success from Alaska,
    Kodiak Mike

  3. Abby,

    Interesting! ---- I only heard your name for the first time this morning while reading jessica's blog. So there's analysis going on all over the place about your trip. Reading your response to the critics, you obviously have a quick mind which means your a quick study. You would have to be for such an attempt. Hope it all works for you. Sounds like your under a deadline to get going.

    Good luck

  4. annoy the electirians and others with all the questions you can; I know they enjoy it.

    Better to ask now than latter.

    Glad to hear you have one more sponsor; thanks to all your sponsors.

  5. Hello Abby,
    As you say "more preparations". I guess with each item ticked off D-day comes closer for you. I quite agree with you about strength. My (ex)husband and I did some cruising for a few years, and although we had a lovely, heavy old timber yacht (eg, 24 ft solid oregon main boom) that was definitely designed to be operated by beefy blokes (Australian for men!), we just changed things enough and worked out routines so that I could operate everything myself should that ever be necessary. And I'm not a big or strong woman. Fortunately it was only necessary on one occasion. So, it certainly can be done. Jesse Watson seems to be incredibly well informed about her boat and maintenance etc, and I think that is much more important than physical strength. Even little things like reefing in a bit earlier than a man might, because you can always shake it out if you didn't need to reef after all. Being clever and cautious is better than being strong and stupid!

    You may end up with the same phenomenon as Jesse, which is hundreds of "adoptive" parents and siblings all anxious for her safety while also excited about what she is doing. We older people can't help our protective instincts, even though we are happy to see our "children" mature through appropriate challenges and risk-taking.

    I would think a dodger is a great idea, too. When I first looked at your boat and saw that there wasn't a dodger I wondered about that. I think Jesse has frequently found it to be a good vantage point out of the weather.

    Well, keep up the good work. Any idea of your ETD at this stage?


  6. Abby, I totally agree that Stephen Mann is an inspirational sailor. However, he didn't do his Southern Ocean voyage non-stop and unassisted...he made many stops (as you know), and had one other person on board with him. That's huge. In that region of the world, having crew is arguably critical for making the gruelling experience safer/easier to deal with. You wrote that "his boat is a lot like mine, on the outside at least", but looking at pictures of his boat on line, it looks like a standard medium-displacment cruising-style monohull. Your Open 40 and his standard monohull couldn't be more different. Your boat is an ultra-light stallion! The only "outside" similarities I see are the fiberglass, mast, boom, etc.

    But I do agree that his voyage is inspirational.


  7. Hi Abby,

    I'm glad you answer as you did as you sound mature and grounded. Ive been following Jessica for a little while (didnt have enough time to bother her with some of my concerns as she departed too early for me to even write in her blog). I really wish you both the best, safety first and success in you goals without taking unnecessary risks.

    Im glad that your father will put the dodger on the boat. Good for him!

    My best wishes for you and your family.


  8. Hi, Abby, It is good to hear all is coming together as you would like, another sponsor sharing the mainsail awesome.
    I believe you have in your own careful way answered many of the trivia blogs, and that YOU are the SKIPPER of Wild Eyes, and there is a code of maritime ethics in respecting this.
    Keep Smiling
    Hervey Bay. Queensland. Australia.

  9. Okay, so I just learned what a drogue is, and a hard dodger. Thanks for filling my quota of new things today! :^)

  10. Hey...the dodger looks to be a happin' thing. Good'll help keep you cozy.

    Glad to hear that.

    Boy, you all went at it for a few days there...must have made for some fun reading for Abby. (sure made me alternately shake my head and smile.)

    Steve in California

  11. Abby,

    You're too young to NOT do this trip! Let the naysayers watch their own dreams slip past. No amount of experience could ever completely eliminate the risks you'll encounter on this journey. You're faith and courage, and that of your family and support crew, are an inspiration to sailors and non alike. Looking forward to the departure. Godspeed!

  12. Very good, Abby! I like the quiet and consistant way you read and answer the comments. Paying attention, but making your own opinion.
    What I see is that you are well balanced, and not going in a rush for some crazy bet, but taking seriously a great a difficult adventure: you got it.
    Don't worry about physical strength, Steven or Zac may have more power than you, but a girl's will and resilience are much stronger, so no worry there.
    If you meet some sea monster, you won't be able to fight him by wrestling... but you will play a show, sing and dance for him, take him into a nice talks and he will let you go, forgetting his expected meal...
    Better than going away with scars for you and broken pieces for Wild Eyes... Your best cards are your brains, and keeping high spirits.
    Spend your last days ashore preparing and checking, not only the boat or the food, but also the skipper: Health checks (TEETH!!!), eating well, vitamins, and sleeping full nights!

  13. Hooray for the dodger!

    And to your father for figuring out a way to make one work.

    Hope you have warm thoughts (or at least dry humor) for all of your rabble-rousing blog friends as you take shelter beneath your new back porch. ;-)

    Now . . . about that wind vane . . . ;-)

    A number of people yesterday mentioned that a wind vane wouldn't work well on a surfboard like Wild Eyes, and they are right. An archaeologist digging into past posts would find that in my first suggestions about a wind vane I admitted it wouldn't work down wind. My thinking is that perhaps (but I dont' know this at all) it could work either going to weather or on a reach. The idea would be to give poor Abby some time to sleep while hobbling into port should the electronic ones go out. In such a sceario, Abby would stay on the helm for hours and hours, and then when she needed a break to eat or sleep, she could alter course to something her wind vane could handle -- without going too terribly far off course. If nothing else, an interesting thought experiment.


    A week or so ago I offered to bet anyone on the site 1 free ice-cold beer (to be paid in full at the World Famous Sloop Tavern Yacht Club in Seattle) that Abby would take the Panama Canal.

    In today's post Abby spoke of meeting Stephen Mann who recently completed a double-handed circumnavigation aboard his vessel Tawodi.

    Abby said Mann had taken "the same route as me."

    A Google of Stephen Mann +circumnavigation turns up some interesting stories, and facts: As in his route took him around Cape Horn.

    So, being a good sport, I'm letting my bet stand, that Abby will take the Canal, and will happily buy cold-ones when she makes it around Cape Horn.

    (I think Panama would be safer, as the weather window begins shifting toward Fall in the Southern Hemisphere . . . but I'm on record and staying on record as not caring which way she goes. Just want her to have a wonderful time.)

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  14. Abby,

    I have been following both campaigns with interest ever since Jesse banged into the large Yacht Stuffer... did not spell that right ;).

    You look & sound older than Jesse... (growing up in the USA?) You also write very well.

    Had a look at your FAQs... nada... m/t... so at the risk of duplication, I would be very interested in hearing your in depth thoughts over the choice of vessel; "light & fast" vs "rugged & slow" or as a lot of people refer to it as the "Steve Dashew" vs "Lynne & Larry Pardy" philosophy. I admit I lean towards out running the gnarly wx but in the Southern Ocean it would seem inevitable to get caught?!

    Would like some more details of the Stephan Mann drouge.

    If you do take the "youngest... " title from Jesse I guess we can take some solace in the fact you did it in an Aussie (please use ZZZs when you say that and not SSSSes like a snake!!!) boat!

  15. Abby,
    Laughter is a very mature way of handling the naysayers! Obviously they know not of which they speak. I am looking forward to following your voyage as I did Zac's and currently Jesse's.

  16. Abbey,
    I've followed your brother's blog and now I'm ready to "ride the waves" with yours!
    Throw off the dock lines!
    Straight wakes,
    Mike S.

  17. The 2010 Canadian Winter Olympic Team's slogan this year is "I BELIEVE".... and I see that that's the same kind of spirit you are projecting and likely why you have won a new sponsor....congratulations Abby and team.
    Well written ....carry on.

    Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario, Canada

  18. Abby

    You have it right, your the captian, end discussion. To hell with the nay sayers.

    Dennis in Newbury Park

  19. You are an awesome young lady with a great head on her shoulders!! No matter what you do in life you will always have some nay-sayers out there that don't agree with you or what your doing, you just have to believe in yourself and give it your very best effort in all that you do :-) I followed along on Zac's journey and now I am looking forward to following your adventure. I have all the faith in the world that you and your family have checked and double checked your boat and gear. You have got a wonderful supportive family whose love will carry you around the world. Get this trip under your belt then do it again in a few years to stop and enjoy the many beautiful countries you will be sailing on past.
    Has a departure date been set? I see it is coming up real soon but have not seen a date. I am hoping to watch your departure on one of the webcam's there in the marina. I met your Dad back in October while showing my husband where Zac's boat is moored. It was the day before you and Zac attended the Westfield Mall opening and i missed my opportunity to meet both you and Zac. I plan on visiting MDR in the fall and am looking forward to seeing "wild eyes" sitting at a pier resting from her trip carrying you around the world and safely back home.
    Prayers will be lifted up to our awesome God while you are out there making your dream come true!
    Gloucester, VA

  20. Bonjour Abby,

    One team of serious and highly skilled professionals, family, friends and supporters, proven and tested;

    One Open 40 sailboat, proven, refurbished and tested with top of the line equipment;

    One smooth professional, proven and tested team leader and skipper: Abby Sunderland.

    One dream: to become the world's youngest solo circumnavigator.

    When? :-)

  21. Abby, I enjoyed following Zac's trip and have loved following your preparations so far. I now look forward to your trip. (especially since I have raced single-handed in the Bermuda 1-2 against Michael Millard & Wild Eyes.)

    Here is an idea I want to pass on to you. When I want to catch fish, I use a real attached to my stern pulpit and 100lb test line. I pay out the lure about two boat lengths and then do a clove hitch with the line around a long piece of surgical tubing with a knot at the end and a piece of cloth wrapped around it to prevent the line from cutting through the tubing when the fish strikes. The other end of the tubing is made fast to a cleat on the stern. then I real the line in to where the clove hitch around the tubing is up against the real. When the fish strikes, the line runs out and the real gives off a loud clicking noise. The surgical tubing stretches and then takes up preventing the fish from throwing the lure. Then I put on a pair of leather gloves and pull the line in hand over hand and flip the fish onto the deck. Then I have a soap bottle full of alcohol and squirt some into the fishes gills killing him instantly. I sent Zac some surgical tubing in Majuro; but, I fear it did not get there before he left. I have been able to catch many fish this way and believe me fresh fish after three or more weeks at sea is very tasty indeed. So Good Luck - Scott

  22. 01-07-09 @ 21:09
    Hi Abby,
    Thanks for the up-date
    Your true followers know you better and above all, you know the amount of time that you have dedicated to working on the boat. So pffffffffttt on them.
    Happy for you with the new sponsor. Glad to see that things are moving right along.
    There are quite a few sailors out on the ‘big blue’ right now, young and old, and from many different countries. I plan to follow them and enjoy their adventures along with them. I look forward to mainly following my Countryman, Abby. I’ll be glad when you finally set sail and get away from all the bickering. Keep the faith young lady and remember that you’re going to enjoy this venture. Yes???…Yes!!!

    I truly loved that post.

    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

  23. Abbey, Abbey, Abbey, I've just read your latest blog and I must say you are definitely in need of some lessons in diplomacy and acquire the ability to tell people where to go in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Perhaps you should take some time to reflect on what you said and adjust your attitude somewhat. You'll be fine after all the stress of these perparations is over and you're finally out there in the wide blue yonder but until then you need all the support you can get and this is not the best way to go about it. It will only serve to allienate you. Try not to be so sensitive and always look on the bright side.

  24. Abby, really good blog. Thank you for the update. Shows a lot of maturity by you and also the strength to tell people you are not going to keep going over the same concerns after you have already addressed them. You are very clear that this is your adventure, supported by your family and your shore team. You hope we will enjoy following your adventure. And I, for one, will really enjoy your adventure, be it smooth or full of challenges. Thank you for the opportunity and I am looking forward to your getting underway when you are ready. Take care and live your dream.
    Dwight in N.C.

  25. Abby,
    I think that you’re already learning to take our comments for their entertainment value. I really do think that the big majority of bloggers offer their comments with sincere good intent. It just might not always look like it. Congratulations on signing on a new sponsor. A very important part of the project that many of us don’t think about. I have a feeling that months from now, your sponsors will all be pretty proud to be associated with your entire team. I hope the dodger works out. It sure would be a nice added comfort. You mentioned that a small drogue is being considered to help out the autopilot. Is a series drogue something that might be nice to have stored in the lazarrete to bring out for heavy weather? It wouldn’t take up much space and might be a little added help during the southern ocean storms. Thanks for taking time to write, Abby. Best wishes and I look forward to your next update.

    From Seattle, WA, USA

  26. Abby:

    Praying for you as you prepare for and set sail on this trip. I think your attitude about this trip is good. Hope the journey goes well and quick. I have enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to reading your future blog posts.

    In Jesus,

    L- Indiana

  27. Thanks, Abby
    You can do it
    Richard (QLD) Aus

  28. Abby, Don't worry about the negative comments. Just keep your head together and enjoy the ride. Love your blog, keep up with it each day. You and Jessie really makes my day interesting. You go Girl.

    Richard - Florida

  29. Abby,

    I have been following your preparations for a few months now. Your blog, pictures and videos are fantastic. It is so obvious that you are so well prepared for this adventure. Everything seems to be top notch and you and your land crew are experts in preparing and handling your voyage around this huge globe.
    When you hear or read the nay sayers, just smile to yourself. Most people don't look at adventure at the same level as you. They mostly mean well but don't have the same experiences as you and don't know how to deal with what you are doing.
    You have mentioned Jessica several times lately. She has gone through many of the same issues as you with doubters. Early in her adventure many bloggers tried even to get a following that her voyage was a hoax. I get the feeling that some of these people did get on her nerves for a while. But they are sitting in their room and she is heading for the horn!
    Continue with your head held high young lady. Listen to your conscience, your parents and your land crew preparing your yacht. They all love you. Smile at all the concerned people who mean well. Someday they will be reading your books and dreaming that they were with you on your journeys!

    South Portland, ME

  30. As a girl sailor, as I readied my boat to go cruising, and at each port I entered, I heard these comments all the time-'you'll die out there. Much better to stay here, drive 95 mph on the freeway with the rest of us, much safer that way.'

    And I was 30 when I was told these things!

    Women may not have as much physical strength as a guy, but there's no doubt we have more stamina.

    Go for it, and forget about those who say you can't.

  31. Hi Abby

    I wish you the very best and safe travels and a victorious return to MDR. I will follow your journey with as much passion and intetest as I am following Jessica's journey, Your both wonderful girls. As for the nay-sayers well Jessica was also subject to much negativity before she left and look at her now!!!! Go for it Abby, follow your passion, that is what life is all about.
    Perth, Western Australia

  32. Your Oklahoma Well-WisherJanuary 8, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    Great update, Abby -- good to read that you & your team are working hard as always and making all the right preparations. Also good to read that you have a new sponsor -- that must help a lot! Looking forward to reading more about the final preparations and the plans for the trip... Take good care! Peace, Your Oklahoma Well-Wisher

  33. 01-08-10 @ 11:38
    Hi Abby,
    In my last post I missed a sentance.

    Your true followers know you better and above all, you know the amount of time that you have dedicated to working on the boat. (The naysayer's couldn't have researched any of your time or work.) So pffffffffttt on them.
    My mistake, sorry!!!
    Good luck to you Abby, and may God bless and guide you.
    Michael(74)from Kingwood, WV

  34. Anonymous @ 1834hrs on 07-Jan-2010
    "I've just read your latest blog and I must say you are definitely in need of some lessons in diplomacy and acquire the ability to tell people where to go in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Perhaps you should take some time to reflect on what you said and adjust your attitude somewhat."

    Pot, Kettle, Black?

    Physician, heal thyself!

    Trevor Leslie, UK

  35. Hi Abby,
    I hope you have some fun whith your friends before you sail away. I come to your website from Jesse´s one. I whish you god luck and "Viel Gl├╝ck" (it is german and means the same as god luck :). I came from Franken, this is a part of bavaria in germany, and sorry for my bad english :).

    Fella M.

  36. Good for you Abby!
    Don't let the negative words of some people drag you down! Go for it know what you are doing, & I'm sure you have all the experience & confidence you need to get started....the rest I'm sure you will grow into along the way. That's called life!

    I'm personally happy to hear all is coming together for you & support you and Jessica equally. You are both amazing women!

    Good luck to you, always stay safe & I'll be following your blog along the way....

  37. lol @ the diplomacy dude

    So who's the new sponsor? Checking the website there's a super cool cam co. is that it? Pretty frikkin' cool stuff, lurve the surf video:

    For a handful of dollars you can bolt the thing onto any machine. Funny thing is you'd not know this was available for the general public only available in Hollywood. People have been trying to do this from day one for fun. Oldest and best known to those that know is in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive him at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris. Turned out to fake, in that is was actually a Mercedes Benz with the engine sounds of a Ferrari, though the driving was real.

    Just how cool is that:

    older than Abby too :-)

  38. Hi Abby,
    Gosh darn it Abby, good for you! You are a sailor not a diplomat (although you are much more diplomatic than most sailors I know)and it sure appears to me that you have everything very well under control, the blogs as well!
    I love Toni's comment, "better to be clever and cautious than strong and stupid"! Thank you for that Toni!
    God Bless you Abby, my prayers are with you and your family...once again!

  39. Technical question for the sailors from non-sailor

    Abby's boat if I am not mistaken can do 25 knots. Zac or Jessica's boats can barely manage 6 knots.

    In the case of round the Cape, depending on a weather window. if you pull in in front of a weather system say one that is blowing 50 knots, is it safe to assume that provided you are in front of it, and it is not moving faster than you, you can "catch" it's outer bands and propel yourself forward at whatever speed? That is like a hurricane, if it's generating 50 knot winds around its eye, decreases to its outer band to say 25 knots, and the whole thing is moving at 15 knots, if Abby slips in in front of it, and catches the outer band winds of 25 knots, will she be propelled forward while the entire system or hurricane moves forward as well? Understandably if the entire system is only moving at 15 knots this is way below her boats capable speed, in the case of Zac or Jessica's boat, at a certain point the system or Hurricane would overtake them since their boat cannot go faster than that.

    Reading the logs of (hopefully Abby got a chance to read it as it's pretty recent and details sailing in the Southern Ocean) *[1] the other Open 40. this guy was achieving 240 nm in 24 hour periods regularly. He was trying to break the fastest port to port circumnavigation record for charity. 240 nm in a day is pretty good. I think Zac and Jessica are/.were lucky if they could average 100 nm per 24 hours.

    Back to the point provided the system or storm is moving at a slower pace than the ability of the vessel, is the idea above correct or not?

    [1] afterthought. There's another current sailing going on couple of New Zealanders (I think), in their 60's super super experienced, quite the story, did a circumnavigation, raced home did the Hobart race upon arrival, now doing another circumnavigation in their tiny yacht. Something like that, details here: point being they're on their last leg, Cape Town (Cape of Good Hope), back home. Right now is in the Southern Hemisphere its smack in the middle or just about over that, Summer time. If you read through their blog and entries after their departure from Cape Town, you'll get a distinct idea as to why for centuries it's known as the Cape of Storms. And this is in the middle of summer. It was suggested that Cape Horn is "it" and anything thereafter is tame. Not so. Very much like Cape Horn, rounding the Cape you have to contend with the continental shelf, 500 to 5000 feet (something like that) where the Agulhas Current is out of control. It's detailed in Berrimilla's log entries, where even this super experienced sailors admit they've never encountered such confused seas. And this in the middle of summer. Recall Zac battling to get into Durban, also in the middle summer. Tacking, going South then North battling the Agulhas Current wind from all direction, just about as hard or difficult sailing as one can get (or hope for since he seemed to have thoroughly loved the challenge).

    Back to the point provided the system or storm is moving at a slower pace than the ability of the vessel, is the idea above correct or not?

  40. Hello Abby,

    Good things happen to good people! So congratulations on another fine sponsor!
    Thank you too for reading all our of our somewhat interesting posts :-)

    You know Abby; I’m really starting to like you...
    But I believe what you meant to do was to tell all of your critics to stuff it! (Oh no I didn’t! :-\
    It was superb of you to stand up for yourself in such a dignified fashion. Then again, save your energy for more important things. Don’t let yourself get roped into debating, demystifying, enlightening, entertaining or placating us folks who leave commentary on “your” blog. You, my friend, stay focused, healthy and happy. Enjoy the good quality posts... Disregard the criticism. Let we “lazy” blog following community do our own research and find answers to our own questions whenever we can (especially if you’ve already addressed it in a previous blog!) You have enough work to do! Remember, most of all, this is supposed to be challenging and Fun for “YOU”!
    Don’t make me come back here and have to admonish you again! (just kidding ;-)
    Thank you again for letting us all tag along.

    Yo! (Philly slang) You go girl!

    Mike D
    Philadelphia, Pa, USA

    P.S. Sorry for the disproportionate use of the exclamation point! Sometimes I just can’t help myself!!!

    Thank you Steven Mann for being a first class adviser and confidant to Abby.
    Thank you Abby’s Mom & Dad for raising such a strong and confident young woman.

    RE: Sgkuhner
    January 7, 2010 5:50 PM
    I used to troll for tuna using the method you just described and it worked very well indeed!

    RE: Grant Fjermedal
    January 7, 2010 3:20 PM
    You ARE a good sport!

  41. By the way, congrats to ZAC and ABBY for being named "SPORTSPERSONS OF THE YEAR"!

    Mike D

  42. Abby,

    I was never a ball player when I was a kid, but my sisters played softball and I noticed that when the pitcher was about to throw the ball, the team in the field would chatter a lot to try to distract the batter. In my experience, those who underestimate young people like yourselves tend to chatter a lot so that they can be the first to be indignant if everything goes wrong.

    But they are also the first people to come up to you when you've succeeded and glad hand you and tell you that they knew you could do it all along.

    The best thing for you to do is ignore them and tune them out. Keep your eye on the ball and swing when you are good and ready. Don't even acknowlege what they say. I'm not talking about people who have good advice for you but those who keep telling you not to go. Believe me, they are talking from predjudice not from any knowlege of what Abby is capable of.

    Fair winds Abby, our prayers are with you.

  43. all the best and fair winds!
    you rock! i know you will have a fantastic adventure ! say hi to the dolphins and birds! cheers _ gregor aka "dj olive"

  44. There have been plenty of messages urging Abby to tune out anything that might be construed as negative, which is good advice to an extent.

    I am delighted, though, that apparently Abby and her Dad didn't tune out the repeated advice to create a dodger.

    This dodger will give Abby comfort beyond any words I could cobble together -- although others are far more articulate, and warm words and encoouragement are powerful too. (Some folks - perhaps most folks - may find it presumptious to think that posts on this blog had a bearing on Abby getting a dodger a few days before a delayed departure, but I still believe in Santa Claus, and in the power of the written word. ;-)

    Big Thanks to @non-sailor dude for providing a couple of great links to other circumnavigation stories. He raises a question about fast boats being able to outrun storms. It is a bit more complicated than the scenario he provides, but there is a big and healthy debate about fast boats being able to avoid bad weather, vs. tough boats that can endure bad weather.

    Although Abby's boat can do 25 knots, that would be a temporary (though incredibly thrilling) speed that she would hit while surfing along in very big waves. So the speed of her boat is dependent upon wind -- in ways that a motorboat wouldn't be. Also, because she will be several hundreds of miles -- and usually some thousands of miles -- away from nearest land (and even further from a safe hide-away port) it is really not possible to avoid the potential for bad weather as it is when hoping from port to port along a coastline.

    By the Way: I enjoy the humor I come across on these blogs.

    A couple of days back, after a huge amount of idea sharing (a fanciful description) someone came on with a post:

    "Sooooooooo, now that that's been handled . . ."

    Or something to that effect, as I don't have it open in front of me. Anyways, it was so appropriate and so funny that I'm still smiling about it.

    The funniest line I've read was on Jessica's blog. You'll recall that her voyage began with a bang when a few hours into her shake-down cruise she ran broadside into a frighter after apparently falling asleep. Meanwhile some weeks later all were very excited that she had just crossed the Equator.

    All the messages were over-brimming with congrulations (including my own) but then I ran across a post that had humor so dry, I assumed it must have come from a Brit, or at least a person of the Empire. The Brit's message about Jessica crossing the Equator was: "I was afraid she was going to run into it."

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  45. Hi Abby,

    We are so excited for you,
    only a few sleeps to go.

    i know a number of people have bets on the route you are taking.

    There are plenty of cold beers around if you go Via the canal. (Looking forward to that party)

    There are also bets on the record, once the canal is decided upon, there goes the unassisted record.

    Good luck and we all wait & see what unfolds


  46. @Grant, oh boy, you are always excellent, from the first word to the last one. How can you say only wise and clever things, from the serious advices to the sharp remarks, never departing from a a smiling tone.
    Abby will have an asset if you keep following her voyage.

  47. Hi Abby, I wish you well w/ your journey. In the upper left corner of this blog, the link is correct, but your name is spelled wrong:"" I have never sailed, but have raised $. Let's get that fixed for your future sponsors. You will do what you need & leave when you may-- to be safe. Aloha.

  48. abby,
    u obviously want to do this trip. u've been thinkin on this line 4 many months. your fam has purchased this open 40 ocean class boat. if worse comes to worse, u could experience a rescue in the southern ocean. if best comes to best, u could be extolled by Schwarzenegger himself.

    i'd say..........go 4 it......u only live once.......

    what the hell........

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Steve in Sydney...are you trying to use reverse psychology to get Abby to attempt the Horn because you'll win more money that way? She'll do whatever she wants without your bets and beer.

  51. Our first comment on your blog. Our family in Northern Nevada has been catching up reading ALL your blogs and comments. Growing up, my parents had us kids out and sailing nearly everyday in British Columbia summers in a little English-made Albacore day sailer in pretty safe waters. As a late-in-life parent of a 12-year-old very independent boy, I'd have to say you'll save your sanity by translating "naysayers" to "worriers who have had unexpected events." Folks are passing along things for you to think about--or not. Nobody wants any harm to come to you.

    You know your stuff or you wouldn't have so much support! People have faith in YOU, but most of us DON'T trust the unexpected, especially when countless variables come into play. Don't take commenters thinking out loud on a blog, wrapping brains around your drive, your boat, your technology, your decisions-- as discouragement. We'd feel guilty if we didn't say our stuff, especially if you run into a problem.

    For more than 30 years my motto was "Always expect the unexpected--and if there's adventure, go for it!!!" I've changed that since, but that's another story! After nearly floating away in my tent in the Grand Canyon at 3 a.m.; nearly going over the edge of the freeway overpass because of a semi; getting stuck in a drift of snow in the middle of a storm in the lonely mountains trying a new 4-wheel drive truck when the headlights lights blew a fuse; using a deer knife under water in 50-degree water in a kelp bed hacking away at a line wrapped around a propeller; getting lost on the Pacific Crest Trail when I was talked into doubting the path--you get the idea--I learned that it's not ever just ONE thing that goes wrong. It's the Murphy's Law thing in unpredictable combinations. That is what people are pondering. People have experiences, people read. We're in an info-barraged world. Maybe some of us didn't know much at 16 and marvel that you could be so capable. A bit of the parent, or the angle we're looking from, in each of us wants to know you've thought of everything. We want you to be successful in that you arrive home safely. You may want to write your blogs without reading what we write until a few days later, so you can stay focused on blogs recording what YOU are doing, not what others are commenting, or have your support crew read the comments to soak up what's useful and leave the rest 'til later when you have time at sea.

    Just roll with us like you roll with the waves and we'll all stay on board and we'll see how it's done by a happy, smiling Abby Sunderland!

    You'll get to see who experts are who are worth their words in gold like Steve in California, Grant in Seattle, the Steven Mann types, etc. You'll see who can touch your heart, like Richie in Paris, and who likes to hear about your cooking (can you cook?) like Mary in Maine, and you'll need jokesters, too! Lots of Anons will be sending quick greetings, and loads will read the blog, say nothing, buy your book and take sailing lessons! You'll get a diatribe or left field comment from some nut, then you just sit back, dear, and let it all play out as entertainment on a windless day at sea when you have time! Wishing you the best and some rest! Albacore Lia Fail

  52. Abby here goes. I have ZERO hours on O40's and if anyone on Your team doesn't agree with anything I'm saying listen to Them. You have to trust Your team and You have to trust Wild Eyes.She is capable of incredible feats so let her show U. All of us are learning all the time and so walk then learn to run. Soon U will be the Goto for those who follow the trail You've blazed.>One of the greatest things about 1970's boats was so many of them had trim tabs. We thought that we could control the amount of lift the keel was providing (close hauled) with the magic lever. What they were REALLY good for tho was crank in a few degrees of TTab and watch the weather helm evaporate. Especially on a hard reach. The tab will not only prevent U from getting 'sculler shoulders' but will do more than Anything to relieve unnecessary stress on the autopilot.Watch out for added lee helm in Your bottom turns tho. Lucky You.> I think U are lucky because U have clutch stopper on mainsheet not camcleat. Cuz U have a traveller instead of a bridle.A tiller not a wheel. She's well thought out.>If U have to bleed the Yanmar be patient. Make sure there IS a manual fuel pump.If there must be protracted cranking shut off the RW intake so U dont fill the exhaust w water. When it starts, turn the water back on. Use Your batterys to heat the fuel, not overcome compression.How? The levers aren't just for hand cranking, I use them everytime even w electric starter. They prop the exhaust valves open just to get the thing spinning, then shut them (some will shut themselves) and it fires. Theoretically that is,and don't get discouraged if hand cranking is difficult. The levers aren't great for stopping the engine, execpt as a last resort.> Having the halyard winch on the mast is great if You're feeding jib luff tapes. You can take a wrap and hold the tail at the bow while feeding. No rips! Wish I was there to crank.>Really lucky to have a staysail. U can heave to anytime you change the other jib, reef, fuel,transfer ballast,eat,sleep or just have a timeout. Prob opinionated but I like to tack into a heaveto instead of pulling the jib around.If U have a pole (?No I'm not sure U do) U can heave to with the jib on the pole.Just heels a little more. A pole ALSO relieves strain on Otto and Skipper.A drogue could be very handy for getting the boat balanced when hoveto.
    As for necessities,3M 233+ green masking tape and Rule sealant (getting hard to find) are all U need. The rest is optional. And while I'm trying to be funny I don't know why everbody is so worried about big waves, Mendecino isn't till the end of the trip! No, Really when Graybeard's coming aboard hes coming aboard. Just duck low, hang onto something, and careful not to get pushed into anything from the water hitting U.>Somebody said she might spend a lot of time on her ear,but really Wild Eyes has a Very conservative Ballast to displacement ratio, so don't waste any sleep worrying about staying right side up.>Thought for the Day: Think about how much leverage the long boom will have to rip the leech when U R triple reefed. So U are also lucky U have a Main Boom Topping Lift to help not a solid vang.Reefed Mains don't chafe on the MBTL. If Your traveller packs it in just use a preventer, same diff only slower.If U need a decent bosunchair just say so and thank You for listening.

  53. Not quite sure about adding a dodger. The cabin is supposed to be water-tight for a reason. If you start drilling and bolting dodgers onto the roof the integrity may suffer.

    Unless you can glue it of on of course :-) or build an external frame to affix it.

  54. Interested about this diesel heater. Having to look it up, somewhat suprised at its complexity. It's more like a furnace in a house. There I was thinking some portable rad type thing. It's a serious plumbed in device.

    If the thing doesn't work it doesn't work unless you're a licensed tech for the manufactuer is my guess.

    That being the case would a nice electric cabin heater as a backup be a good idea to take along as well. I'd imagine this thing running compared to having nothing if the diesel fails would be a life saver. All of 80 dollars for peace of mind:

  55. Hello Abby,
    I would like to weigh in on the discussion about people offering unsolicited advice. For the most part, the advice is coming from people who are concerned about your adventure, and are worried about your safety. I have been following JWs blog from September, and offered advice many times, out of the idea that, no matter how competent a team is , there is always a chance someone might have overlooked something, or not thought of a different approach to a problem.

    Example: Years ago I read in the Chicago Tribune about a semi truck that got wedged under an Interstate highway overpass. Cars backed up for miles. The police and tow truck drivers worked hard to pull the truck out. No luck. Time went on, tempers flared. Then, a twelve year old boy got out of one of the cars and said “Why don’t you let the air out of the tires” Problem solved.

    The Internet allows us to avail ourselves of the collective mind. As an IT professional, I use the Internet for troubleshooting everything IT related, but also to fix my washer, dryer, furnace, car, etc. We are living in a new world when it comes to information. That, for example, was why I offered the advice on your boats keel bulb attachment. Imagine how I would feel if your boat was to be found like Mike Plant’s, upside down, bulb missing, in some god forsaken place with no Abby? If your team has already taken this into consideration, as I mentioned they probably had, you can ignore the comment. But,now you can see that I felt it was my responsibility to pass on the information, especially after you said at one point the keel was stuck in the mud.

    Best of luck with your adventure!
    Your boat is looking Great!
    Richard W

    PS Before you go, see the new movie “Up”, it is all about what you are doing

  56. @bluesails - I greatly enjoyed your observations/suggestions; extended comments like these from other experienced sailors are what make the blog commentary rich. (you can, after all, only say "Go for it Abby", so many times.) Abby is clearly no dummy; to the extent that she takes a tenth of what we write here with any degree of consideration, she'll use the best and toss the rest.

    @Anonymous 8:32AM. As one of the folks who observed the potential value of a dodger on Abby's voyage, I have to admit that I hadn't considered how the attachment might effect the integrity of the cabin top. (Perhaps I shouldn't go into yacht design, huh?)

    Always wishing her a safe and successful trip - whichever route she chooses,

    Steve in California

  57. From Harold,

    From to size of some of these emails obviously a lot of people with time on their hands. So I'll add my two sense worth.

    I have absolutely no problem with a person your age sailing around the world. When i was a kid growing up in the Carribean I was taking my parents 35 foot boat from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Is, and other island groups, quite often at 15 years old.
    My father taught me and once he tested me and felt i was capable I was able to sail when I wanted where, when I wanted.

    My parents were quite well, liberal , I guess you could say. Now a days people would say irresponbile, but they weren't, I was meant to be free and they knew it.
    At 16 I had my own 28 foot sailboat and sailed it around the world (it never occured to me to think about a record), This was around the time of Robin Graham and we meant on one occasion. But I had friends with me on occasion so I guess it would have negated a record.
    Since then I have sailed almost none stop around the world stopping here or there for a year or 3 at time.

    My only advice it make sure you know your boat, and know your heart. Regardless of the naysayers or the people encouraging your remember when you leave the docks your all alone.

    Personally I think you "should" give more creadence to the naysayers then the people encouraging you because if you can answer their questions- honestly- then your ready to go.

    Good luck

  58. Hi I am your neighbor on Papalagi on the 1900 dock. I've seen all the work you and the team are doing, just wanted to say "good luck!" Have a safe & speedy voyage. Dylan

  59. Hi Abby!
    I believe you can do it! Even if I am no sailor I have read enough stories to understand that usually the difference between failure and success for a long distance sail trip is the boat and its equipment. But you and your team know that.

    Of the five round-the-world solo sailors out there now (that I know about, there are probably about more), three had to make unplanned repairs in port. Dilip Donde will make repairs at a planned stop. And Mike Perham planned to go non-stop and had to stop in ports.

    So depart when your experienced professional team feel you are ready. And test everything for real. Everything that is not proven to work, does not work (my experience as an industry engineer).

    But I get the impression that this is exactly what you and the team are doing, waiting until everything is installed and checked.

    Jessica also had a team of skilled people checking everything, and everything seems to work (except the heater). Jessica is the one not stopping for repairs.

    To succeed you must have good attitude, love sailing, also rough or becalmed weather. And know everything about the boat, but I think you have understood that. I read you been active during the installation and have trained various repairs. So I believe in you!

    Good luck!
    /Bengt I Larsson, Sweden.

  60. To my fellow Blog Posters:

    RE: Albacore Lia Fail
    January 8, 2010 11:06 PM

    Jeeze Al, don’t hold back, tell us what you really think! (just kid’n, I agree with almost every word ;)

    RE: Bluesails
    January 9, 2010 2:24 AM

    Expert much? Oh, one more must have… “Rescue Tape”, mighty fine stuff. It’s better than Band-Aids! Won’t leave home without it.

    P.S. I hope I can find you when I trick-out my old Cal.

    P.P.S. Just bust’n ;-)

    RE: Richard in Maryland
    January 9, 2010 8:48 AM

    Well said.

    RE: Steve in California
    January 9, 2010 9:55 AM

    I’m just enriching the blog commentary, "Go for it Abby!"

    P.S. Just bust’n on you too ;-)

    RE: Harold
    January 9, 2010 10:21 AM

    It was worth more than two cents. Keep it coming.

    Mike D
    Philadelphia, Pa, USA

  61. Oh, I almost forgot,

    RE: Bob from Seattle
    January 8, 2010 9:43 PM

    Gees Bob, I think the word you were going for was “flatter” not “flaunt”, and Richieparis, you keep on being exuberant!

    Mike D

  62. Ocurred to me in the shower this morning that a Jordan series drogue would be a seriously valuable piece of gear to have on board (just noticed that saltydog has aready raised this in a passing sentence). Abby mentioned using a drogue for added directional stability. The great thing with a series drogue is that it lets YOU have total control over the amount of drag - just let out a few more cones if you want more drag. THEN it also becomes your ultimate survival tool if conditions degenerate - just let the whole thing out.

    THe big big bonus of this is that as conditions get worse your gear is already out and just needs adjusting. The problem with most survival gear is that by the time you deploy it, it is actually very dangerous to do so. This is when sea anchor warps get tangled around keels etc and can make a bad situation worse. WIth a sea anchor (not really appropriate for this type of boat), you even have to turn the vessel in huge seas and the risk of being rolled in doing this is real.

    Cheers to all

  63. This blog is getting good! ;-)

    @bluesails: You sure packed a lot of wisdom into your single, stream-of-consiousness paragraph. Would love to learn more about the tricks you use on your Yanmar. (I've got a 20-horse Yanmar in my Cal 2-30.) Also interesting to hear about tacking into hove-to and using a pole (while hove-to)? By the Way: Do you think Wild Eyes could hove-to? Or would she be too skitish? Hopefully Abby will never have to find out, but would be interesting to read Open 40 blog sites (or any other such data stores) and see what they do when conditions make it too dangerous to bare-pole it.

    @Steve in California: If memory serves, you were the first to point a finger and say: "That boat has no dodger." If Abby ends up with one, credit due. ;-)

    @anonymous about impacting the integrity of the cabin by bolting a dodger on. Interesting observation. The cabin on her boat has a very low profile relative to the rear-deck seating. (Which is one reason why Wild Eyes, especially with her plumb bow, is a very attractive boat to my eye. I'm actually more partial to the old CCA 1960s - 1970s designs such as the S&S 34 that Jessica has. But I like the side profile of Wild Eyes.) This means that the dodger would likely need a relatively high profile compared to the cabin. It will probably be ugly, but most dodgers -- especially hard (fiberglass) dodgers are ugly. The dodger on Jessica's boat is hideous looking to my eye but it sure looks like it provides great protection from the elements, which is what a dodger is supposed to do. I'd imagine that Laurence will build a structure that will actually enhance the strength of the boat. An alternative would be canvas and stainless tubing, but especially with the relatively high profile it might have, it could be vulnerable to green water, or as @bluesails puts it: "When Graybeard's coming aboard he's coming aboard."

    @Bob from Seattle: Are you ever in the Ballard area? If so I'll treat you to a burger and cold beers at the World Famous Sloop Tavern Yacht Club. Would be fun to compare notes and talk about circumnavigators.

    @Harold: Dude! Write a book! Sailing your own boat through the Virgin Islands at age 15? Got to be some great stories in that life! ;-) I'm serious. Sounds like you've been pretty much on the water ever since. I could see a book/movie deal about your early years. Kind of a new take on James Michner's "Adventures in Paradise."

    @RichieParis: You are such a positive presence, for always, that I'd like to give you a book I wrote. You can keep it on your chart table book shelf or keep it land-based. My second book was called "The Tomorrow Makers" (Macmillan, hardback; Microsoft Press, paperback.) It's all about Artificial Intelligence, robotics and the future of humanity as in: Are we creating our own evolutionary successors -- out of silicon? (This isn't a commercial plug as the book is out of print, so I don't make a dime when someone buys it used on the Web.) Anyways, it is a fun read. The New Yorker magazine ran an excerpt and the American Library Association named it one of the 10 best nonfiction books to be published the year it came out. My e-mail address is: Send me your mailing address and I'll send a copy of the book.

    - Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

  64. Hi Abby,

    Thanks for your update on your progress. Everything seems to be coming along nicely.

    Don't worry Abby I will be one of your number one supporters and I will never question you or your teams' decisions as I have never sailed anything on water before. From what I have read you really know what you are doing. You have have such wisdom for a young lass of your age and I admire you that you have such a great goal that you want to achieve.

    With warmest wishes. Jan (Auckland, New Zealand)

  65. 01-10-10 @04:12
    Hi Abby,
    Just checking in to see if there was anything new. I hope you're controlling your anxiety, I'm sure you're busting at the seams to get going. It will happen, and MDR will be behind you.

    For RichieParis: keep on being your exuberant self. Don’t let anyone change you. LOL…..
    For Old Salt: I’m with you, nice post.
    Good luck, best of wishes and take care.
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand and may the Angels keep your sails full, and I, will be praying for you.
    Michael (74) from Kingwood, WV

  66. @ Bob from Seattle: sorry, I felt like that on the moment. Grant's advices are always interesting, often wise, and I like the quality of his handling of english language. You see, for having learnt it in school, I am always bumped (positively) by the way it is spoken in the street or written on the Net; so I am impressed when reading full sentences with a choice vocabulary. Plus, never forget humor. And that last post was, I maintain, especially a good one, saying it all, shortly but kindly. Anyway, why would I flatter anyone??? I am here, like about anyone else, by pleasure and by passion. Discussing is the salt of a blog.

    @ Mike D: Thank you, I didn't get flaunt (english being not my mother tongue), I only guessed what it was suppose to mean. I should check flaunt in my dictionary.

    @ Abby (by the way, we are in your blog, aren't we): Long time no hear from you, Miss... Be careful, we're all old (or less old, for some lucky ones) timers and we might die before your departure, if you don't update ... (just kidding). I prefer thinking you are ironing your dresses for the dancing parties, when you return. Better to do that now, because when you will come back, you won't have a minute!

  67. Abby -

    My first post to you. How exciting to have all these sailors to follow around the world!

    I think you will be very glad you have a dodger to duck under now and then. And that new heater, just take the troubleshooting manuel with you (hint hint). Maybe two of those heaters LOL!Redundancy might come in handy.

    I see a few names in these posts that I recognize - hello to you all!


  68. Good luck kid, courage, skill and a good rig will see you through and you have plenty of it all, Aloha nui loa

  69. Best of success! Amazing courage, at any age!

    God Speed~