The following is a slightly edited version of a post that I made on TBO http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/jun/10/101909/rescuers-search-calif-teen-solo-world-sail/news-breaking/ this morning, in response to the ignorant rantings of many who are against her perilous around-the-world-alone-at-16 voyage:
I certainly do hope that Abby is OK (it does appear that she is, but the boat has been dismasted). She’s well prepared, has plenty of knowledge, and seems to be in good physical condition.
Throughout history, young people have done amazing things. Joan Of Arc comes to mind for some reason here, as does Columbus, Francis Drake, James R. Clark (volunteered to fight in WWII at the age of 13, served 1 year, and re-enlisted at 17), some kid named David, and many others. Abby’s brother completed the same voyage last year, and was 17 at the time. Jessica Watson has already completed her solo trip around the globe, via the Southern Ocean route, also at age 16. She had detractors and supporters, but in the end, completed one of the last epic voyages to be conducted on the surface of our planet, and I congratulate her, as I will Abby, whether or not she finishes her trip. These two young ladies exemplify what the human condition SHOULD be, if you ask me.
One thing I would NOT have done, were I Abby, was choose an Open 40 racing sailboat for the voyage. It is what the boat was designed for, but there are many more conservative yachts out there. Her choice would be akin to driving a Formula 1 car across the country, whereas Jessica’s choice of a classic Sparkman and Stephens (S&S) 34 would be much more like driving a sporty mid sized SUV the same distance.
And for those who accuse the parents of neglect, or worse, try this on for size… I consider NOT having your child ready for this by age 16 to be neglectful and abusive. The cowardice bred into this society by those who want nothing more than to be nursed by the nanny state from cradle to grave is revolting and nauseating. At 17 I was not sailing around the world, but I was sailing around Lake Superior in a Cal 29. My crew were my two younger brothers, and we had many safe adventures in the chilly waters between Duluth and Bayfield.
Shortly after my original posting, a new article with updated information appeared at http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/jun/11/110833/calif-teen-sailor-found-alive-and-well-after-20-ho/news-metro/ where the conversation has continued rather, umm, spiritedly. Sometimes I get a bit opinionated, but that’s who I am, and that’s the way it is!