Posted by: First Mate | June 17, 2010

Comments on Family

Since it made the national news while we were in the process of a move and a haul out, I haven’t made any comments on the “Abby Sunderland feared and found lost at sea issue,”  until now.  Today there was a report in the New York Daily news saying that France and Australia say the rescue bill which will be in excess of $200,000 is “no big deal.” NY Daily News According to international law enacted in 1914 after the sinking of the Titanic, there is a no-cost agreement for rescue operations at sea.  Really?  That is a lot of thank you notes for her parents and 6 siblings to write to those tax payers.

I am happy that this 16-year-old girl has great aspirations and am very happy that she was found alive and in good spirits.  I am not surprised that her father said we are overprotective of our children these days, but don’t like the comment that we should check the stats on how many teenagers die in car accidents. French fishing boat rescues stranded Calif. teen 16-year-old Sunderland\’s yacht broke in storms featuring 30-foot waves Yes, young drivers die in accidents, but allowing a 16-year-old GIRL to solo around the world is not comparable to allowing a teen drive a car.    Using the analogy of prescription medications I would say the risk – reward profile of a solo circumnavigation is very different from driving with some friends to the mall or the movies.  Not sure what it is like in Thousand Oaks, but we don’t have pirates, human trafficking, 30 foot waves, 35 knot winds or an excess of about 40 different components that could fail and endanger a teen driver on the way to the mall here in Hawaii.

I get the adrenaline junkie side of this, but she is 16.  In my opinion, our role as parents is to give our children wings and help them make clear informed decisions that will help them establish a steady flight through out their lives.  There are too many issues involved in this sail, like timing (winter in the Indian Ocean?) that lead me to believe the motive wasn’t entirely Abby’s or wasn’t well thought out and planned by the teen and her parents (aka caregivers?).  She did this to “best” her brother’s record? Last week the Christian Science Monitor published an article Teen sailor Abby Sunderland found, but are quests like hers wise? which addressed whether these quests for records come at the expense of  normal development: academic, social, emotional and other endeavors.  I am not a fan of the whole “everybody needs to be normal” movement (what is normal anyway?) but I do feel children and teens need a certain environment to become good citizens and functioning adults.  If you don’t believe this, Google Lindsay Lohan.

We have friends who are solo sailors, one who has done several solo transpacific races in a 60 foot racing yacht, and the descriptions of what they go through regarding sleep, boat maintenance and navigation are intimidating to seasoned sailors.  So it would take a different breed to even attempt this and to successfully accomplish it – it needs to be well researched and planned out.  I don’t want to jump on the band wagon of judging her parents, I hope the lessons here will sink in before the other 5 kids attempt a world record or a giant weather balloon is released from their garage, or the mom has another pregnancy this time with 9-tuplets.  My goal is to teach my daughter, Ruby, to be self-reliant and brave regarding life, boats, education and her basic choices.  If she asks about attempting a feat like this or climbing Mt Everest… I would tell her that she has to wait until she is 18, has trained, researched and planned everything well and with the input of real experts, has funding to support the attempt, and support for every imaginable problem (Abby did have a non functioning sat phone due to the dis-mast and a few, maybe 4, Epirbs) and I have a supply of diazepam or crushed grapes to compliment the fear that will accompany my pride in her effort.

See Abby’s circumnavigation info page  AbbySunderlandBlog

Still Too Young


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