Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Day, Another Trip

Another day, another trip. This time I am in Detroit. I've spent the past two days racing on the Lake Huron in Michigan and talking at the Port Huron Yacht Club. It has been much more fun then I was expecting it to be. As an offshore sailor, I wasn't sure what to expect racing on a lake. I had never raced before and I wasn't sure I liked the idea.

The first day was an all women's race - a race they do once a year. I sailed on Hope, a Bristol 33, a nice and very fast little boat. On board was myself, the first time skipper, Carol McMillan, and four others who had never crewed all together before. Now I have always wondered how on earth six people can all be on board such a small boat all working without tripping over each other and just making a mess out of it. I'm still not sure how, but I now know that it does work, and it works well.

When I was sailing Wild Eyes single handedly, something as simple as a tack could take a while because things can get messy when you're sailing solo and you have to be very careful. When you've got six people on board who all know what they're doing everything happens at once. It is so much fun! I do still feel a little awkward on other peoples' boats. I miss having a boat that I know backwards and forwards and I'm used to doing everything myself. While being with a a good crew is a lot of fun, it makes me miss my boat even more.

Well, we ended up coming in first place, due to having an amazing crew who all did great considering that we had never sailed all together before and it being our skipper's first time. That night I got to meet Katie Pettibone. Katie is an amazing sailor. She has done three America's Cups and it was great to meet her and talk to her a little bit about everything that she has done.

Next day came around and I was on board the boat Liberty, a Beneteau 42 - a fast boat with a great crew. They had all sailed together before and so I wasn't needed much but jumped in to help out where ever I could. Liberty came in first in the two races we did that day, and I think it's safe to say I have had a very good first experience with racing.

A few hours after getting in, it was time for me to talk. I've done press conferences and question and answer things, but this was my first real time talking. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. I have that terrible problem where when I get in front of a large crowd of people my mind goes blank. It was looking like there wasn't going to be too many people there and it was maybe five or ten minutes before starting. There were maybe a whole ten people there, so I wasn't too nervous. As that short five minutes passed, more and more people began to pile in. All of the seats filled up and then they pulled out even more chairs. Before long, the room was filled, including people standing along the back wall because there just wasn't room for more chairs. So now I was thoroughly scared and about ready to duck out the back door and make a run for it!

I didn't run though, I stayed there. It was a little hard to get started. I was shaking all over and suffering from having my mind go blank. I managed to get through the first few minutes, showed a little slide show of my trip, and introduced Charlie, who had come with me. After that, I launched into the story. I had a great audience. They all seemed happy which helped a lot. I had prepared a speech last week but instead of going with that, I decided just to wing it. I covered my whole trip, right from when I first decided I wanted to go, up until the end of the voyage of Wild Eyes.

I talked for maybe an hour and a half or so, and then answered questions and it was all over. It all went pretty well. I had been worried that I wouldn't talk long enough, but I ended up talking longer than had been planned. I was a little worried then that I had rambled on and bored everybody in the room, but everyone either really did like it or they were just super polite. Either way, I was finished and not feeling so bad about things.

This is my last day here. I'll be flying out at 7 tonight. It was a good stay here and while it does feel a little weird to be splashed in the face while sailing and not get a mouth full of salty water, I did still have a really good time with everybody here!



  1. Congratulations on the win. Sounds like another awesome experience
    Benny & Lily

  2. I live in the Port Huron area, even though I'm not a member of the PHYC, I still have attended many of their functions, and regret not making it in to hear you speak of your amazing trip! Following your progress day to day as I did, I was able to live vicariously through you in a way by reading your updates, with each one wishing I was able to take on an epic adventure like yours myself, and was incredibly upset when your trip came to its sudden end, especially when you were out of contact for those scary long hours before the plane made contact with you.

    Its terrific to hear that you had a great time racing on Lake Huron, I'm happy that you also enjoyed your stay here in our little town, and have to assume that more than one person here attempted to talk you into coming back to crew with them for the Port Huron to Mackinac race next year!

    Anyway, I still do keep an eye on your blog, and can’t wait to hear what your next adventure may be!

  3. You are doding great Ms Abby and it is so nice of you to keep us all updated. Have fun!!
    Al P still in Beijing

  4. Great that you had a chance to try a whole new type of sailing! You're getting to be quite the public speaker! Congrats!

  5. Hi Abby, It's hard for me to believe that you could "bore" anyone...and it sounds like you are having a grand time on your grand tour. Keep on truckin' girl! Gus

  6. Way to go Abby!!!!
    Virginia in Miami

  7. ahh! nooo! my friend tyler was there! he invited me to go but i decided to go camping with friends! total FAIL on my part >:/

    i highly doubt that its possible for you to talk to much! id probably sit there for another 2 hours asking quesions! XD

    -TojC from PCB, FL

  8. Hey Abby, that sounds like a great experience. I'm not surprised you did such a good job racing, since you've had so much experience sailing. Sounds like learning to sail with a team is a good thing! Keep up the great work! And congrats on your speech too.

  9. Hi Abby!

    Great that you got back out on the water and tried racing! Sounds like you're keeping busy with traveling. I keep hoping maybe by chance you'll get reunited with "Wild Eyes," even though realistically that's probably not going to happen.

    After all this traveling I hope you can find time to just be at home and relax.

    New Jersey

  10. Thanks Abby.
    Your angels are watching over you.
    Keep smiling :) ♥

  11. Wow, a whole room packed with fans! Haha, I SO wish I could have been there too. I highly doubt that sharing about an adventure like yours would ever bore people.

  12. Abby, have you heard of Toastmasters? Check them out on the Internet. Their program helps people become better speakers. With your talent, you will be called upon often to speak, so you may as well polish those skills you already have. I am not sure how old you need to be, but if you call them, I am sure they can guide you to the right place. They do have youth leadership programs. Good luck.

  13. Your doing great out there in the puplic eye, Abby. No bun intented. Ha. What a great experience you've had with the different sailing of the 2 different boats. Sounds fun, too.
    I am sure at times like that it is hard not thinking of your dear Wild Eyes. It brings tears to my eyes as well.
    Thanks for keeping us up dated. Till, your next trip.
    Dee in Santa Clarita, Ca.

  14. Most people who talk about something they love and know inside out can go on for ever.
    Nerves are normal. It's those that give you the adrenalin rush to help you archive your thoughts so clearly.
    I'm sure you didn't bore a single soul.
    That's not possible when your audiences are all like-minded souls.
    Congratulations to you and the crew for winning your first competitive race. On Lake Michigan of all places!
    Well done everyone.
    Jeanie In The Lakes

  15. Hi Abby,
    I'm really glad you had a great time with everyone! Don't worry if your mind went blank...however, I have the same problem! Just this morning I started my school (after 3 months on summer holiday)and my English teacher told me to talk about me and my summer holidays in front of all my schoolfellows! (Of course, in English...but it isn't my language!). And my mind went blank. Maybe I can bore someone, but I think it's impossible that you can bore everyone, with your amazing story!

    Bye bye,

  16. Hi Abby. I am so glad you are still keeping in touch with us. I often wonder what you're doing now, and apprecaited the update. Maybe as the media frenzy subsides, you will begin to relax and take on more fun things, and get over the stage fright too. IM still praying for you, that God would lead in every aspct of your life.
    ps: Do you have an itinerary of any upcoming talks or presentations that you'll be giving?????
    Take care, young lady, and keeping looking up! God Bless you richly.
    In His Love,
    Ron in Colorado

  17. 09-14-10 @ 10:11
    Hi Abby,
    Congrats on the First Place finishes, and I know that you contributed mightily!!!! I can well imagine that having so many people on board would seem like everyone would get in each other’s way. It amazes me that everything went smoothly….It did, yes????
    It looks like everything went well for you on giving the talk, to last for an hour and a half, you must have been doing something right…lol… But when you’re talking about something you love I’m sure it came easily for you.
    Take good care of yourself and keep up the good work. You’re doing a great job. God Bless You!!!

    Loads of love and hugs, and remember God is always with you.
    Your faithful friend, fan and follower.
    Michael (75) from Kingwood, WV

  18. Bonjour Abby,

    Congratulations on the wins,to the skippers and crews too. That should prove to you that you are not a bad luck charm as you ounce suggested! Of course Charlie knew alreay!:-D

    No contradiction really in being a good solo sailor and a team sailor, same motivation just honing skills from different perspective...

    You might want to try this:

    You experienced the most important aspect of speeches: like your subject and the audience will jump in and you will run out of time not of things to say! Kudos for not running out! :-D

    Your writing is as good as ever! Keep at it at your own pace, it is very successful that way, so why not?

    Go Abby! Take care.

  19. I know you may have mentioned it in passing and I missed it, but just wondering if anyone has spotted Wild Eyes lately?

    Ithaca, NY

  20. Congratulations! My nephew has been following your adventure is currently very ill and in the hospital. I would love it if you could send him a picture/etc with a positive message. If you respond to the email address below, I will send you his hospital address.


  21. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to our state, and that you had such a great experience with the racing and the speaking. Remember that the Great Lakes are just any old lake - they're on a whole different scale. Our "community reads" book last year (for Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti) was The Living Great Lakes : Searching For The Heart Of The Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis. He helped crew a sail boat from Traverse City (on northern Lake Michigan) through the Great Lake and out to the Atlantic. It has a nice mix of lake-related history and sailing stories (although it is a bit disjointed at times as a result of how he mixes the two). Maybe you can get your mom to put it in your curriculum this year, to get you ready for your next trip to sail the Great Lakes! :^)

  22. So it sounds like you have had an exciting few months, fot to see a lot of the US and experience new things--which is great. My heart goes out to you as I know you are missing Wild Eyes and I do pray that she will miraculously be returned to you. Have you heard anything about her? Like where she is at. I know she was floating towards Australia but wasnt sure if she still was or if she had reached land. Anyways jsut day you will again have your own boat and be able to complete your trip around the world.

  23. Abby thanks so much for coming to PHYC. Everyone is still speaking about the weekend! Many of us will remember this weekend for years to come.
    As for your own boat, I can understand . Everyone keeps telling me I need my own sailboat. Would love a 30 Square or nice solid Catalina 30.

    Bernie - Grounds Chairman PHYC

    Hope you are having fun in Amsterdam!

  24. WOW! An AMAZING post! Thank you so much!
    Your writing here shows great talent, much like your sailing skills. It's awesome that you got to do so much in so little time. So happy after reading this post.
    Thanks, Abby!

  25. I'm so glad that you had a good time, and that your talk went well, Abby. I can't wait for your book. I hope you get yourself a new boat soon.


  26. Love hearing of your adventures, Abby! Hope you will keep the blog going. How's the book coming?? :) All the best, always! Russ

  27. Good Evening Abigail and Followers,

    I understand you love The Great Lakes so much now that your next adventure is to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel!!!
    OK...maybe not...I guess we are just being over anxious to hear about your "second go at adventure".
    Now I could see you running away from going over the falls but giving up on your loving fans at way. Everyone appreciates how uncomfortable it can be to speak in public so think positively about it and in time it will be routine. You have a great story to share Abs.

    I trust it was cool with you that I tried to keep everyone in the loop on your Facebook sites last weekend regards your racing experience at PHYC. Congratulations to all involved.
    C U Sailor,
    john, Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario,

  28. Great job Abby, If you know your material (which you do) it doesn't matter if you are talking to 1 person,, 10 or more or recording a video for eternity, your competence remains the same.

    Any chance you will be talking in October on the East Coast?

  29. I am glad you enjoyed your first shot at racing, and that you sailed with an all female crew working together for the first time.

    Life is full of journeys. Just keep heading out; to Lake Huron, the deep blue sea or out the 101 from Thousand Oaks... Each journey is a lesson. SO GLAD you're still learning - and doing - new things.

  30. I wished to be there to see you speaking

  31. So what ever did happen to Wild Eyes? Is it still afloat or did it go down or did it get salvaged?

  32. Whenever you give a slide show, just remember, the audience doesn't know what you are going to say so you can't make a mistake. It sounds like you learned that already and proceeded to give your show without becoming frozen with stage fright. Abby, you truly are an amazing and amazingly mature young woman.

  33. Your site is amazing.I am very impressed to see this,i want to come back for visiting your site.Keep doing Good as well as you can..

  34. Don't you have to go to school?? You seem to just travel all the time.

  35. Dearest Caption ♥Abby♥,

    First off, congratulations on your race victories (my prayers were answered!). I hope you pursue more ...


    I LOVE it when you talk boats & sailing!!! It stirs up my love and hunger for my biggest best friend: the sea.

    I must go now to the sea again. To the lonely sea and sky. And all I ask for is, a tall ship and star to steer her by. :-)

    I love you Skipper! Have a wonderful weekend and may our Good LORD continue to watch out over you; as-well-as bless, protect and provide for you!

    P.S. By any chance is your book going to be titled: "Wild Eyes"? Sounds cool, huh? When I get my boat I'm going to name her Abigail, after you of course!

    Ol Salty (33.2º, -117.2º)

  36. Hi Abby,
    I just typed up a long message to Post here ... Unfortuneatly, I accidently deleted it after I Edited It and was about to Post It. I'll have to Retype It from the beginning, but I'm too tired to do it now, so I'll do it Sometime on Sunday.

    Neville M. (Sydney Australia)

  37. Hi Abby,
    I am delighted that you are still traveling and enjoying yourself. Is there a way we could learn where you are going to be speaking so that your fan club could come see you?

    I have two suggestions for handling the nervousness when speaking before large crowds. First pick out one person in the crowd and speak to that person. Then occasionally move your focus to another person. Second, imagine the crowd is butt naked without any clothes. That should make you laugh and relax.

    I am eager to read your book. Your blog has inspired me to write haiku poetry.

    Abby Sunderland
    role model for all people
    smart and corageous.

    Take care,

  38. Dear Abby,
    I have some very special friends The Cooper Family (Win and Carol)who reside in Port Huron and sail for the Port Huron Yacht Club too. I hope that perhaps you may have seen or met them in person. I love Port Huron - it is such a neat town and full of wonderful people too. have a wonderful time in amsterdam. My husband and I spent a few days there on our way to Zimbabwe 12 years ago!
    Julie K

  39. Congratulations Abby!!! I am glad you have made sailed in the great lakes. I do hope that some day you try out Lake Michigan. It has alot to offer for boaters of all kinds including sailing. Have fun in all your Travels.

    Ryan in West Michigan

  40. Hi Abby,

    We've just read the article about you in the October edition of "O" magazine. It's a great read, and we especially liked the pre-trip part when the writer talked about your ditch bag. Bet you never thought you'd be needing to use it.The article raised some of the controversial arguments, but we still think it was right for you to have the opportunity to follow your dream.
    You're a remarkable young woman, and we admire your courage and determination.
    ~Brian & Phillippa,
    vancouver, BC