Saturday, June 12

Why Not to Sail Around the World Solo - Sunderland Parents Explain

In distress 16 year old solo sailor Abby Sunderland's parents are doing a horrible job of explaining why they thought it OK to send their daughter off alone on a round-the-world sailing trip.
After expressing relief that their daughter had been found safe, Sunderland's parents on Friday rejected criticism of their child's attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

"The fact is whether a teenager, or a young adult or a middle-aged person, there have been many rescues that have taken place," father Laurence Sunderland told NBC television's Today program. - AFP
Defending the decision to proceed with this trip on the basis that solo sailors are getting rescued all the time is not a reason to do something. It is a reason not to. But they are clearly either blind to this or trying to salvage whatever idea they have of fame for having two children sail around the world solo. Hell, with their reasoning, why not let people drive drunk? Many people do it and only a few get into accidents...

Their defense gets worse:
"Abigail's campaign unfortunately had a blow with the masting out there in the Indian Ocean and she's proven herself on more than one occasion before now to deal with the adversities of the ocean.

"She's proven herself capable of dealing with this. This is more of a testimony to her will to survive and deal with the situation than a travesty that she went out there at all."

Mother Marianne Sunderland meanwhile said the family had sought to minimize the risks of the voyage by having a comprehensive support team in place. - AFP
First, this incident proves that she was nowhere near prepared/skilled enough for this trip. I'll give you one knock-down but multiple knock downs? Just how many did they plan for her to have on this trip? Even before she lost her mast a previous knock-down earlier in the day claimed her radar. I am not sure how she has proved that she can deal with this. I would think that would involving making a makeshift sail and continuing without having to sit there and wait to be rescued. As for a support team, how about sending one with her. Having them sit at home is pretty useless, other than for having them beg governments to go rescue your daughter in the middle of nowhere. How far from help was she? Think of being on the side of the road in Baltimore, Maryland with a dead battery and waiting for the nearest help to arrive from Boston, Massachusetts, keeping in mind that ships don't travel anywhere near as fast as cars.

I get that the family is in love with the sea and sailing. That however, is not a reason to send your kids off to sail the world solo. It is a reason to take the whole family on a sailboat and sail around the world together.

The article linked above notes that she is unlikely to attempt this trip again. I did not expect her too because she is now too old to complete the trip and get the record as the youngest solo sailor. This goal was in itself a contributing factor to this accident as it forced her to attempt crossing the Southern Ocean during it's winter.

Just to be clear, I am not criticizing this trip because she is a young girl. I am criticizing it because solo around-the-world sailings are stupid and dangerous.

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