Abby Sunderland has been found uninjured by 11 trained SES air observers and an Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) officer aboard a chartered Qantas A330.
Abby Sunderland, 16-year-old California girl who was feared lost at sea while sailing solo around the world, has been found alive and well, adrift in the southern Indian Ocean. Rescue boats were reported to be headed toward her position.
Thursday distress signals were activated after a mast broke and disabled the yacht “Wild Eyes” she was planning to sail around the world. On June 10, 2010 Sunderland’s two manually operated emergency radio beacons were activated and satellite phone contact was lost. A third beacon which triggers automatically if it goes 15 feet underwater was not activated. Sunderland was sailing in high winds and had suffered multiple knockdowns. She was sailing northeast of the Kerguelen Islands, about 2000 miles west of Australia A fishing boat is on its way to rescue her, but will take about 24-40 hours to reach her. She is expected to be rescued sometime Saturday. A total of three boats are also reported to be heading toward her position in the Indian Ocean.
Searchers in a chartered Qantas Airbus A330 jetliner from Perth, Australia discovered her in the southern Indian Ocean after 20 hours of silence/lost radio contact from the teen. When the boat’s mast broke after the yacht was slammed by 30-foot waves, the satellite phone reception was also disabled.
Search coordinator Mick Kinley, acting chief of the Australia Maritime Safety Authority, chartered a commercial jet for the search. The round trip from Perth to the disabled boat was about 4,700 miles. A large jet with an adequate maximum range was required to conduct the search.
According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the position transmitted by the emergency GPS beacon from the “Wild Eyes” yacht was 40 degrees 48 minutes south of the equator and longitude 74 degrees 58 minutes east of the prime meridian – about 2033 nautical miles west-south-west from Perth in the central southern Indian Ocean.
The rescue boats were coordinated from Réunion, an island about 2,000 miles northeast of the disable yacht. Réunion, a French island of about 800,000 population located in the Indian Ocean, about 120 miles east of Madagascar.
Sunderland started her trip from Cabo San Lucas on February 6, 2010, intending to complete a solo, non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation of the world with a return to Cabo San Lucas.