Abby Sunderland’s parents hopeful that her boat is upright, say help is on the way
Sunderland, who was attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, sailed into a storm Thursday in the southern Indian Ocean and lost contact with her family. She apparently activated emergency beacon locating devices Thursday morning after contact with her satellite phone was lost.
The blog update notes that she was battling winds up to 60 knots and 20- to 25-foot seas. And though she had been knocked down several times, she was "handling things well," her parents said on the blog.
The family was helping her troubleshoot her boat's motor with patchy satellite phone reception. They were waiting to hear back when U.S. search and rescue authorities reported receiving a signal from Sunderland's emergency beacon, the blog states.
Sunderland's brother, Zac, told reporters gathered at the family's Thousand Oaks home that the family was optimistic because the beacons were manually triggered – and that the water-activated beacon had not been set off.
"We are hopeful that the boat is still upright," the blog states. "We are working closely with American, French and Australian Search & Rescue authorities to coordinate several ships in the area to divert to her location."
The earliest possible contact is about 40 hours, though Australian search and rescue crews will have a Qantas Airbus fly over at first light – sometime this evening Pacific time.
"They will not be able to help her other than to talk via marine radio if they are able to get close enough," the blog states. "Hopefully, they will be able to assess her situation and report back to us. Abby has all of the equipment on board to survive a crisis situation like this. She has a dry suit, survival suit, life raft, and ditch bag with emergency supplies. If she can keep warm and hang on, help will be there as soon as possible. "
--Catherine Saillant and Al Seib in Thousand Oaks; My-Thuan Tran and Rich Connell in Los Angeles
Photo: Zac Sunderland looks out from the front door of his family's Thousand Oaks home as media gather to find information about his sister Abby Sunderland who set off her emergency beacon from the southern Indian Ocean early this morning. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times