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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Teen sailor found alive, reigniting debate



Mom_abby I was so glad to read that Abby Sunderland, 16, is alive and apparently well, floundering in rough seas in the Indian Ocean without a mast, but safely aboard her 40-foot boat and awaiting the arrival of rescue ships.

The girl from Thousand Oaks, Calif., had been attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. But this week she lost her mast and rigging after her vessel apparently rolled in heaving seas. She activated two emergency distress beacons not long after daybreak Friday and was spotted by a plane in the extremely remote area, more than 2,000 miles from Australia and Africa.

There has been debate from the beginning of her trip. People have focused on her age, but I think the daredevil aspect is bigger issue. I don't think it's safe for anyone to sail solo around the world. I don't think her age was even a factor in this since it sounds like she did what she was supposed to do, hit the distress signal when the waves got too high. She didn't do anything differently than a 40-year-old sailor would have done. 

The issue is more about people who feel compelled to push the limits. After reading Into Thin Air I can't understand why anyone would endure the pain, expense and danger just to say they climbed Mount Everest. But I'm sensible that way. I know people have that desire, but I find it very foolish. There are much greater accomplishments in my opinion than sailing or climbing or driving fast. I prefer deeper human goals like rescuing people from danger or poverty. But maybe I've got it all wrong. Pushing the limits is laudable on its face, but I wonder where we draw the line.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 2:25pm]


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