Australian search-and-rescue authorities say Abby Sunderland was just like "a small dot on the ocean" when they spotted her alive on the back deck of her Open 40 Wild Eyes.
"Because I was at the front of the plane, I just happened to spot Abby as she came into the field of view," said Michael Wood, who saw Sunderland's vessel from a spotter plane out of Perth, Australia, according to a post on Abby Sunderland's blog. "We're all mindful that Abby's got a number of hours left so we've all got our fingers crossed."
A crew of 11 volunteers was on board a spotter plane that flew out of Perth, Australia. A second, smaller plane was to leave Perth to conduct another sighting, according to Chris Lawson, spokesman for Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia.
Abby was in very good spirits, according to Will Blackshaw, the organization's task force leader. "The window of opportunity to speak to her was very short, so we had very brief, direct conversations about her health, the condition of the vessel and her communications," he said. "The seas are very rough indeed, and there is a lot of wind and she is obviously going to have a very uncomfortable night of sleep."
The crew instructed Sunderland to activate two more EPIRB devices tomorrow afternoon so rescuers would have a continuous signal.Abby Sunderland was dismasted about 2,000 nautical miles off Western Australia, which means the end of her solo circumnavigation attempt and, likely, the end of her Scott Jutson-designed Open 40, Wild Eyes.
Sunderland's team notified Soundings at 2:30 a.m. (EDT) June 11 that the 16-year-old was found alive in the Indian Ocean by Australian rescue authorities.
"Wild Eyes is upright, but her rigging is down. The weather conditions are abating," says Sunderland's parents, Laurence and Marianne, on her blog. "Radio communication was made and Abby reports that she is fine!"
The voyage, however, is over, says Laurence Sunderland.
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