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Abby Sunderland, 16, to depart this month on solo-global sailing odyssey

December 2, 2009 | 10:17 am

Abby2 As Australia's Jessica Watson has passed the 5,000-mile mark during her journey around the world, alone in a 34-foot sailboat, Abby Sunderland is embarking Thursday to Ensenada, Mexico, to pick up the 40-foot sailboat she hopes will carry her safely around the planet.

Both girls are 16.

Abby, whose older brother Zac recently completed an adventurous and sometimes harrowing solo-circumnavigation, is a few months younger than Jessica and hopes to complete her nonstop, unassisted journey in about six months, making her the youngest sailor to accomplish the feat.

But first there's work to be done on Wild Eyes, the boat's current name (Abby is still seeking sponsors). She and her father will sail the boat -- which is being delivered from the East Coast -- from Ensenada to Marina del Rey and complete repairs before Abby's mid- to late-December departure.

“My brother, friends, family and even several letters from strangers have made me aware of the power and dangers of the oceans, but I’m up for the task,”  Abby said. “I’ve been sailing my whole life and am just as prepared to do this as many adults."

I've been communicating with others who have sailed around the world and they're mostly supportive.

Said renowned Australian adventurer Don McIntyre: "You must come from a very special background to have the strength of character to be true to yourself and believe in yourself to actually pull it off. I know Jessica and she has the correct head of space. I don't know Abby but it is pretty obvious that she has not been playing with Barbie dolls for the past 16 years, so there is every expectation that she comes from a background that could do it."

Outposts and the Los Angeles Times will be following Abby's journey closely.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Abby Sunderland. Credit: GizaraArts.com

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