A year ago Abby Sunderland made global headlines as the subject of a dramatic rescue effort after her sailboat rolled over and lost its rigging in the remote southern Indian Ocean.
At 16, the fiercely determined adventurer from Southern California had been trying to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. After her rescue she vowed, someday, to make the voyage again.
But now, at 17, Abby seems to have changed tack. She wants to fly around the world, and is even taking flying lessons while trying to figure out logistics and possible time lines.
Her mother said that's all there is to it at this point. Abby, to be sure, has been extremely busy promoting her book, "Unsinkable," and DVDs, and speaking before various audiences.
But she also is flying a lot, and in her mind is this new dream. And for a Sunderland, as Abby and her older brother and fellow sailor Zac have shown, once a dream takes hold it eventually blossoms into some form of reality.
Zac, as many recall, made it around the world in his sailboat after a 13-month adventure. He became the first person under the age of 18 to complete a solo-circumnavigation, and received a hero's welcome upon his return in July of 2009 to the starting point at Marina del Rey.
Abby's subsequent voyage, on a more treacherous Southern Ocean route, was a struggle most of the way and came to an abrupt end in stormy seas a little more than half way around the planet.
Now she is learning to fly from a family friend and dreams of seeing the world from the air. She revealed this ambition to her hometown newspaper, the Thousand Oaks Acorn.
"Right now I don’t have a boat and I don’t have a sponsor to sail around the world," she explained. "I do have a good flight instructor and flight lessons and people who are going to help pull off a flight around the world, so I think I’m going to stick with that for now."
Her shipwright father, Laurence Sunderland, who drained much of the family savings in support of both sailing excursions, told the Acorn: "She’s an adventurer, but, unfortunately, if that’s what she wants to do, I can’t help her there. I told her, if it’s the Lord’s will, then go for it."
Abby recently posted an item to her blog recalling her rescue a year to the day after the crew of a French fishing boat had plucked her from her damaged 40-foot sailboat, Wild Eyes.
She concluded that post with this passage: "You may support me, you may not, but as long as I live, I know I am going to take every opportunity that comes my way, chase every dream, and do all that I can to help others follow their dreams."
-- Image of Abby Sunderland courtesy of ©2011 GizaraArts.com