I spoke with Abby Sunderland today, just minutes after she rounded Cape Horn, and she sounded great.
The 16-year-old adventurer from Thousand Oaks, who is trying to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, was clearly relieved to have safely achieved this major milestone and looks forward to venturing north to warmer waters to try to repair a faulty auto-pilot (she has been using a backup) before continuing along her Southern Ocean route.
"It’s the milestone I’ve been waiting for," she said, when reached on the satellite phone, minutes after rounding South America's tip and crossing from the Pacific into the Atlantic. “It’s pretty much the hardest part of my trip, and now it’s over so it’s really great being here."
There's still plenty of danger ahead and Abby must know this. She still has to cross the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and the Southern Hemisphere winter will be setting in by the time she reaches Australia. But for now it's one milestone at a time.
Abby, who is attempting a nonstop, unassisted journey, acknowledged being fortunate that seas were only 15 feet when she rounded the Horn. "It can be much colder and far worse," she said.
Rain pelted her 40-foot vessel, Wild Eyes, and freezing wind drove her below. She talked about missing friends and family and wishing she could take a warm, fresh shower, and eat real food from a plate rather than freeze-dried food from a bag.
But they were not complaints. "Of course you're going to miss home when you're out doing something like this, but I'd still rather be here doing what I'm doing than be home," she said.
She has some critics but far more fans. Hopefully she'll prove to them all that she can accomplish this feat, despite an unfortunate late start caused by numerous issue-related delays.
Said the great adventurer Don McIntyre: "I think the biggest question mark will not be the Horn. It will be the Indian Ocean and under Australia. It can be worse there, especially late in the season and she will be close to winter then. This will be Abby's biggest challenge... With a bit of luck and only if the boat stays together, Abby can do it."
-- Pete Thomas
Photo of Abby Sunderland during her January departure courtesy of GizaraArts.com