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Teenage sailor healthy, weary after rescue by French ship in Indian Ocean

The French ship Ile De La Reunion, comes to the rescue of 16-year-old Abby Sunderland and her stricken boat Wild Eyes in the Indian Ocean on Saturday. Sunderland suffered bumps and bruises.

Associated Press

The French ship Ile De La Reunion, comes to the rescue of 16-year-old Abby Sunderland and her stricken boat Wild Eyes in the Indian Ocean on Saturday. Sunderland suffered bumps and bruises.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A California teenager who spent three days adrift on the turbulent Indian Ocean described her ordeal as "crazy" as she started a long journey home aboard a French fishing boat that rescued her Saturday from her crippled sailboat.

Abby Sunderland was bumped and bruised but otherwise healthy, her parents said after hearing from the 16-year-old in a 20-minute phone call to their home northwest of Los Angeles.

"She sounded tired, a little bit small in her voice, but she was able to make jokes and she was looking forward to getting some sleep," her mother, Marianne Sunderland, told reporters outside the family home.

Her mother, who is close to giving birth to a boy, said her daughter joked about her ordeal affecting the baby and also talked about plans for the next school year.

The young sailor continued to blog after being rescued more than 2,000 miles west of Australia two days after a wave broke the mast of her boat, Wild Eyes, satellite phone communication was lost and she set off emergency beacons.

"Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best," she wrote Saturday from "a great big fishing boat headed I am not exactly sure where." She will spend more than a week traveling to Reunion Island, a French territory east of Madagascar.

"The long and the short of it is, well, one long wave, and one short mast," she wrote.

She dismissed criticism that she was too young to undertake an attempt to sail around the world by herself.

"As for age, since when does age create gigantic waves and storms?" she wrote.

Zac Sunderland, her brother, held the record briefly last year until Briton Mike Perham completed his own journey. The record changed hands last month when Australian Jessica Watson, 16, completed her own around-the-world voyage.

Her father, Laurence Sunderland, a boat builder who teaches sailing, said his daughter had thousands of miles of solo sailing experience before she set out and he had scrutinized her skills.

"This was not a flippant decision," he said. "Abigail's been raised on the ocean all her life. She's lived over half her life on yachts. … This is like second nature to Abigail."

He said his daughter simply "caught a bad wave."

"Should age be a factor here?" he said. "Abigail has proven herself. She sailed around Cape Horn, the Cape of Good Hope. She'd endured 50 knots and 60 knots-plus of wind prior to this unfortunate circumstance."

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the French ship Ile De La Reunion brought Abby Sunderland aboard from her stricken craft Saturday afternoon.

Australian authorities were broadcasting a message to boats crossing through the area, warning them that Sunderland's sailboat is still adrift.

The Australian maritime authority did not say how much the rescue mission cost but said it would not be seeking compensation for the search. It was not immediately clear if the French vessel would seek compensation.

Teenage sailor healthy, weary after rescue by French ship in Indian Ocean 06/12/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 12, 2010 11:34pm]

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