« Abby Sunderland sails to defense of trip, parents | Main | Yellowtail spring to life at Coronado Islands »

Jun 16, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Wait a minute, Jessica Watson, the current 16-yr old circumnavigation world record holder ran into 4 big storms like that too. How can anyone say anything the storm is caused by sailing too late in the season?

Storms happen in the ocean any time of the year. There are hurricanes in the tropics too, in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans so when is the good season to sail? Where is too far south or too far north?

Most of the article is fair, but I think the comment about too late the season to sail in the Southern Ocean is bullcrap. Does he know what he is talking about? Has he looked at the meteorological map of the oceans at any given day and not find a storm brewing? Would you say it is hurricane season now, so you shouldn't on your sailboat? That is ridiculous. Please stop spreading that ignorant rumor blaming the storm on the season, or when is the right time to sail.

Tray M.

The least you could do as a reporter is link to Abby's official site:
Her blog is located at:

Claudia Owens


Could you post the link to the article you mentioned? Thanks! Claudia

A Mom

Good article Pete!

Her voyage was obviously not perfect, but there's alot to commend about Abby's guts, determination, motivation, courage, and so on. We need more 16 year olds like her!

I recommend that the critics take a look the average life of other 16 year olds (partying, video games, shopping, eating, partying, video games, shopping, eating) and tell me with a straight face, they are doing better than Abby?

Aiden McKee

I'm glad a lot of us have a problem with Abby and the Sunderlands, because we're all really close to them and have the right to freely associate about what's happening, right? =D

Philip Kilpatrick

It is sad that our culture today considers the age of 16 (or 14) too young to take on the responsibilities of an adult. 200 years ago this would not have been an issue. I am glad that society's mediocre view of youth has not kept Abby from attempting to do great things.


I don't agree at all with the Frankie Stone blog (i.e. "The Wrap"), but the 'Latitude 38' articles are spot on!!! And these articles are coming from the sailor's perspective... very revealing.


Wow, if you read the article referenced in 'Latitude 38' by @Katie, and the link to the sub-article from August 2009 (http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2009-08-28&dayid=318#Story4), you will realize how prophetic they were about the whole 'Abby Sunderland Adventure' thing. They called it right from the beginning! The August '09 article ends with this chilling prediction:

"Do we think Abby Sunderland could singlehanded around the world like her brother did? Maybe, maybe not. Do we think she could do a six-month nonstop circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean — a trip we'd rate as being 10 times more difficult than Zac's circumnavigation? No way in hell. Even if she were able to make it — which she won't — what exactly does it prove? Perhaps only that kids and their parents will do almost anything to become celebrities."


Gosh! I want to say so much, but I’m sure it would be taken as just rambling on!
Not all 16 year olds are the same. Not all 30 year olds are the same: you get my drift.
Criticism is nothing new....anyone remember the Dove??...the story of Robin Lee Graham (he was 16). Same stuff then as today. I was in the 5th grade when I started reading about him in National Geographic. It inspired me to no end. That was 1963, the year that President Kennedy was shot.
Because of hard times in my family (my father also died in 63) in 1968 I quit school and joined the Merchant Marines; I was only 16 by one day! People said the same type of things about my mother that they are saying about Mr. Sunderland. Folks, my mom thought I could handle it. My Mom, brother and I were living on 215.00 a month from Social Security. Was money the reason? For me, yes! I added to all three of our incomes by going to sea. For my mom, I don’t think so. She knew I was bored with school. I ended up going to college, and today at 57, I'm glad I did what I did. Guess what, I own a sail boat today and I would leave tomorrow to sail around the world if my employment would allow it. I believe that Abby Sunderland is more competent for that task than I am today (and yes I’ve been on the ocean most of my life..Navy, working offshore, etc.). If they rescued me in the Indian Ocean....most people would say, isn’t he glad that we have a system that saved his life. There is so much more to say, but I'm proud of her and I'm glad Abby and Zach have parents that believe and have faith in their children. A lot of effort went into the preparations of this journey. Much more than some parents do for their kids today…think about it! If you really think about it, some 16 year olds would do a lot better for this country in Washington than some of the idiots we have there now. Kids are the future, Teach your children well!
Vic Keller-Argyle, TX


Great article Pete...I am currently sailing myself (in Santa Rosalia, Mex after starting from MdR in October 2009)and having sailed as far south as Manzanillo this season, so I think I have a good perspective about sailing in general and crusing as well. To all of those that point to ANY Latitude 38 article as a holy grail, please, the publisher of that magazine is as hipocritical as anyone, if not more so, in sailing journalism. Just because it's written there is no excuse to believe it, it's his opinion only. The 'Poobah', as he is known, loves to use that magazine as a bully pulpit for his rants.

I agree that she not have taken off so late in the season for the Southern Ocean weather and nothing else. That she wanted to do it is great. The only villian in this caper is her mother, a 'let's get rich off the kids' type of person. I rooted for Zac and have rooted for Abby and hope they continue to do great things with their lives



Here's the link to the article Jolie mentions.... a must read


All the under informed journalists would not even know about Abby if this had not happened. If she gleefully sailed back to Marina Del Mar the only coverage would be from that area. I guess they got tired of covering the massive and destructive oil in the Gulf and how many animals are losing their lives and peoples livelihood with years and years of cleanup ahead. How BP via email tell of the tale of why it happened.

Abby has a dream and someday will fulfill it, good for her and good for Mr. Thomas to write this story. Parents should stop trying to buy electronics for their children so they don't have to parent them, just put them in a chair and turn their brains off.

Good for the Sunderland's for inspiring their children. I was living on my own at 15 and nobody cared about that and I'm still alive too. Go Abby, I have been following your blogs since you started them and will until you get home!


Another article by a mainstream journalist with no understanding of ocean sailing and weather issues.

Sure, everyone who is of the "ra-ra-ra go for it mentality" has a point about not listening to naysayers, etc. etc. But the fact of THIS case --as distinct from Zac's case-- had to do with sailing in the Southern Ocean, below 40 degrees South latitude, and in the winter, which no experienced offshore sailor with any sense of safety and reality would ever recommend doing, especially for a comparatively inexperienced 16 year old sailor. By comparison, Zac's circumnavigation via the trade wind route was extremely safe and benign.

The failure to understand the route, timing and (in) experience level in Abby's case --and the fact that the parents were hoping to make some money and a celebrity out of her-- is the crux of the matter.


@Frankie Stone/The Wrap.... great article, couldn't agree with you more!

Frankie Stone

I'm a PR executive with 25 years working in the television industry for major companies (and a former journalist); I'm also the blogger on entertainment publicity issues for www.TheWrap.com I was so appalled at the Sunderlands' blatant desperation for celebrity - an easily-followed trail that begins before Zac's trip - that I wrote my column yesterday about it:


It offers a more cynical POV on several issues you raised. I did want to raise a few others:

--how do you know the statement about child protective services is true? From my research and reporting, the Sunderland parents have made numerous statements, in various settings, that have proven overblown or outright false.

--My blog touches on how the Sunderland parents announced on Monday afternoon that they had pulled the plug on the reality series and would not permit one to be producedn for ethical reasons...then only a few hours later, began recanting that statement and throwing out a net for new producers. As you can imagine, anyone evaluating this situation with an outsider's eye can see that dishonesty and could assume it colors every decision they've made.

Finally, as you know from your years at the Times, everyone thinks his or her personal story merits a film or tv show. And unfortunately due to the rise of the reality genre, people are taking bigger and bigger risks to land some perceived level of fame. There are at least 200-300 reality show concepts being shopped around at any one time. It's pretty clear that the Sunderlands' multiple concepts - and yes, they wanted to see 3 series about themselves, per the Magnetic Entertainment website (not to mention the elder Sunderland's autobiography he vanity-published, for sale on Zac's website) - were destined for failure because a) they had no understanding whatsoever about how tv operates, b) they hitched their wagon to producers with no visible experience in that arena and c) the Sunderlands came off pretty awful on video. I touch on that too in my piece.

Abby is probably a lovely young woman with that teenager's sense that she can achieve anything she wants, right now. When I was 16, I knew without a doubt that I would marry Jim Morrison and live with him in London. It's unfortunate that her naivete and youthful exuberance are at the mercy of her parents' agenda.


I have followed Abby since the early days, before the MDR departure. It was all to obvious that the program was too hastily assembled: Abby had precious few hours on a boat built for extremely experienced open ocean sailors. It was clear to many other experienced sailors that the rapid re-fit, brief "sea trial" to Catalina and the Team's apparent unwillingness to recognize the running back stay system on Wild Eyes was a set up for problems. The boat systems problems became evident by Cabo and the autopilot failure reinforced the lack of through preparedness of the boat.

That she left Cape Town on such a delayed schedule set her up to traverse a portion of the Southern Ocean that shun like the plague during winter.

As suggested above; if you read farther a field than Abby's blog - try Latitude 38 articles or Sailing Anarchy forum - you'll find very very few experienced sailors who think her attempt was wise for anyone.


Pete, I'm curious why the critic silence over 16 year old Australian Jessica Watson's SUCCESSFUL boat trip around the world has not provoked all the Abby crybabies?

She got a hero's welcome into Sydney Harbor, yet all Abby gets is a bunch of B.S from all the protective adults who probably won't let the own 16 year olds cross the street w/o holding onto their parents hands.

Geez, give the Sunderland Family a break. I wish I could marry Abby.


Thank you! Finally, a reporter with some sense. I see the small minds are out in full force again. Oh well. Let 'em rant and lecture. The rest of use will keep on trying to actually accomplish things.


Mr. Thomas, if you haven't already done so, I highly recommend you read the detailed article on the site Latitude 38 published June 14 and titled: "Dear Abby, Huge Storm Approaching!" It may change your perspective a bit.


If the Sunderlands paid the high financial price (estimated at $300,000) for their child's rescue, perhaps they would have less critics. Following your dreams at someone else's expense and at the risk of other people's lives to help save yours when you take foolish risks to follow a dream and set a record based on your young age is not noble; it is selfish and irresponsible.

I've read articles written by experienced sailors who say Wild Eyes was not adequately prepared for the voyage and the delays trying to fix her up put her in the Indian Ocean at its most dangerous season. Allegedly, Laurence Sunderland pushed forward with the trip anyway, supposedly because of deadlines set by sponsorships. If true, that is highly irresponsible and certainly bad parenting.

The comments to this entry are closed.

  • banner2.gif

  • DanaWharf3.jpg

  • Instagram

  • Click Here to view Pete Thomas Outdoors on your mobile device.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter