Abby Sunderland has been in the news. Oh, you’ve heard?
Abby Sunderland is a 16-year-old from California who was unable to accomplish her goal to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. Like most Americans, my first reaction to this story was “Oh great! Now EVERY 16-year-old with a 40-foot racing sailboat is gonna want to circumnavigate the globe by themselves!” I know; I’m a cynic.
Opinions are like (careful here……….) baseball cards? Hmmm, ok, baseball cards! We all have them, but they might not be worth as much as you think.
Sidebar: I love that everyone has opinions. I love listening to everyone’s opinions. (proving conclusively that I don’t REALLY know what love is) But when someone expresses an opinion with the underlying current being that any OTHER opinion is clearly insane? THAT’S when I start to get apoplectic.
It wasn’t until I saw people start weighing in with their thoughts on this story that I found myself emotionally involved. Huh? Oh no, not so much for Abby (though, like everyone, I was immediately concerned for her safety) but with the level of criticism she, and her parents, were receiving. Of particular interest to me were the following two statements, which I’ll paraphrase: “Whoever is responsible for her being out there should be locked up!” and “her parents are idiots!”
Here’s my expert view on this family from California that I knew nothing about until, what, 5 days ago? They are a SAILING FAMILY. Some families golf, some do gardening, others rebuild engines (and leave the empty cars on blocks in the front lawn). This one sails. Abby Sunderland has been sailing since she was 6 months old. If her parents had plucked her out of study hall, thrown her on the family yacht, and told her she’d get no supper until she got back from the other side of the world, then yes. I could support “child endangerment” charges. (That was the claim of the “lock up the parents” poster). She is uniquely qualified to attempt such a feat. Her parents support her 100%. Good for them! Good for ANYONE who loves something SO much, that they are this committed to it! If she had been injured during her journey, or worse yet, had died? THAT would have been tragic and unfortunate, for sure. I’d like to think I’d still feel the same way; no way of knowing that for sure.
Abby’s boat is gone. She is safe and on her way home. Obviously, she was unsuccessful in breaking the record for being the youngest to sail around the world. But to me, she has proven that she is, without a doubt, more than capable of being at sea on her own! And I have a feeling, as soon as her boat can be replaced, that she’ll be out there, racing against her opponent, trying to even the series at one game apiece.
Congratulations, Abby. You didn’t fail; the ocean just happened to win this one! And she played some dirty pool to do it.
P.S. One more post I’d like to mention. And to me, this is as uninformed as an opinion can be: “If she had a heart to do this, why didn’t one of the parents go with her?” Um, I’m pretty sure that goes against the rules of a “solo” voyage. But thanks for making my blog one paragraph longer.
P.P.S. I just now (4:40pm) saw an article online on the New York Post that paints the Sunderlands in a very unflattering light. Stand by for more, but it’s possible I could be eating the above words.