Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
June 23, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

What’s Next for the Bill Cosby Sex-Assault Case?

Truthdig Bazaar


H. Patricia Hynes

The Day Wall Street Exploded

The Day Wall Street Exploded

By Beverly Gage

more items

Email this item Print this item

When Adults Help Kids Flirt With Death

Posted on Jul 18, 2010
AP / Australian Maritime Safety Authority via the Sunderland family

Wild Eyes, Southern Californian Abby Sunderland’s boat, drifting in the Indian Ocean. Almost imperceptible in this photo are the nearby rescuers.

By T.L. Caswell

(Page 4)

The standard for underage derring-do shouldn’t be whether the minor survives. That is of towering importance, and caring people will always be joyful when a kid ends up unscathed, but a larger societal issue is in play: that of constructively guiding a child toward adulthood, toward a stage where he or she is fitter to make life-and-death decisions.

In 2005 The Washington Post published an article headlined “Brain Immaturity Could Explain Teen Crash Rate; Risky Behavior Diminishes At Age 25, NIH Study Finds.”

A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25, a finding with implications for a host of policies, including the nation’s driving laws.

“We’d thought the highest levels of physical and brain maturity were reached by age 18, maybe earlier—so this threw us,” said Jay Giedd, a pediatric psychiatrist leading the study. … That makes adolescence “a dangerous time, when it should be the best.” …


Square, Site wide, Desktop


Square, Site wide, Mobile
Teenagers are four times as likely as older drivers to be involved in a crash and three times as likely to die in one, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

That would seem to speak for itself.

Anytime someone raises the question of whether adults are doing enough to protect children from their own rash decisions, howls arise across a wide spectrum. Some people complain that children, especially American children, are overprotected and aren’t allow to adequately challenge themselves. Others claim that any call for better protection of minors is the work of Big Brother, who wants to control every aspect of life and to sap initiative in a scheme to produce a weak, docile population. Still others see a creeping nanny-ism that would turn boys into sissies, or force girls back into kitchens where they would have no access to achievement in sports, business and other activities out of the home.

Can protective attitudes have bad results if carried too far? Definitely. If carried too far. A minor is not a delicate hothouse flower that must be kept inside a stifling environment designed to ward off every threat, risk and danger. But how can it be anything but tragic when a life is prematurely and needlessly uprooted?

In 1996 there was a child named Jessica Dubroff who wanted to become the youngest person to pilot an airplane across the United States. She needed a booster seat in order to be high enough to see out of the cockpit. Despite media hoopla over her record attempt, the 7-year-old apparently did not always fly the craft. No matter. The media were on the case. Doing their job, however wrongheaded that job may be at times.

On April 11, 1996, about 24 hours after the bid for the record began, Jessica, her dad and a flight instructor took off from Cheyenne, Wyo., reportedly with the instructor at the controls. Need I say what happened?

Mainly as a result of that day’s three deaths, Congress soon passed the Child Pilot Safety Act, which imposes restrictions on underage pilots “attempting to set a record or engage in an aeronautical competition or aeronautical feat.”

Jessica would be 22 years old now.

I’m sorry you never had a chance to grow up, little girl.

Requiescat in pace.

T.L. Caswell was on the Los Angeles Times editing staff for more than 25 years and now edits and writes for Truthdig.

Banner, End of Story, Desktop
Banner, End of Story, Mobile
1   2   3   4

Watch a selection of Wibbitz videos based on Truthdig stories:

Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By PJ, July 21, 2010 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It cost us in Australia $300,000 to rescue this heavily sponsored spoilt brat.Thanks guys,can’t wait until you send us more of your brilliant children.We can pay for their rescue, then then they can return to your talk-show circuit to make their fortune!

Report this

By Angel Gabriel, July 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As was said by a fellow Ocean Sailor. Abby was on a VERY well equipped boat, was a competant Sailor that handled herself admirably in adverse conditions, and knew the risks ivolved in the adventure she embarked on.
EVERYONE who goes to sea, whether it’s on a Cruising Yacht, Commercial Ship, or a small fishing boat out for the day know the risks, or they should not be there in the first place!
A lot of the earlier comments hinge around the cost for the rescue. MONEY?! This is NOT an issue of money or cost. This is an issue of challenge, quest, adventure, risk in adversity - MONEY - I bet all those commentors are American’s with that famous moralist mindset bent on supressing any challenge if their is a negative monetary cost potential. Money is God in the land of the flea!
Good on ya Abby! You’ve got a good one for the memory banks, and I’m sure you’ve learned a lot about what to do next time it happens! Sail on Sail on Sailor!

Report this

By bhupinder, July 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

when you call ambulance you are respocsible for its cost . You pay ar the insurance carrier pays.
who paid for the hundreds of thousands of dollars incurred by rescue effort to track and save this girl whose parents still don’t get it

Report this
Just_The_Facts_Maam's avatar

By Just_The_Facts_Maam, July 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment

I certainly think charging the rescuee is appropriate.  The bigger issue in my mind is also the risk to the rescuers.  It is not unheard of for rescuers to be injured and killed in the process of a rescue.  It is for that reason that a person who takes on significant risk should pay a significant part of the resuce bill.  A casual hiker who “gets lost” shows less premeditation of ignoring known risk than a “serious” mountain climber or mariner.  This girl and her family were highly aware of the potential for things going badly as evidenced by the years of training, equipment on the craft, etc.  They really should pay for their calculated risk.  And what would the girl’s family feel if a rescuer lost his/her life in the course of the rescue?  What would the family of an injured or dead rescuer feel because another family decided to challenge the ocean and the weather?  Responsibility demands an even playing field for decisions made and executed.

Report this

By Clarence, July 21, 2010 at 9:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How about worrying about the adults who allow children’s lives to be put at risk by letting them live in neighborhoods where there is no real food being sold?

How about the adults who allow children’s livesto be put at risk by cutting their healthcare rather than close corporate loopholes?

How about the ones who begin their military indoctrination in junior high school?

Wanna solve a real problem? Or wanna kick somebody when they seem to be vulnerable.

This article is Teapartyism of the left.

Report this

By SGater, July 21, 2010 at 9:08 am Link to this comment


Its hard to argue my point after what you’ve said but i’ll try wink

If we were to ask them to pay for the rescue it could be millions and in the end they couldn’t pay it back anyway so where would we get to. Then what might happen is that pearents in this case are forced to choose to pay for the rescue or not? Obsurd in my view but it could end up getting like that if you had your way.

BTW, Does anybody know the costs of this rescue?

Maybe some sort of insurance could cover extra ordinary situations and rescue costs? Extreme or Adventurer sports insurance lol. I bet their is but i’m sure it won’t cover the costs of the rescue.

Report this

By NABNYC, July 21, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

I think this decision was properly between this girl and her parents.  If 16 year olds are not considered old enough to sail, then the law should be changed to prevent it.  But if they are legally allowed to sail, then how far, and on what ocean, seems like an issue of parental discretion, not one to be dictated by the government. 

Beyond that, yes, when people engaged in activities which are outside of what most people do, and are highly risky, then those people should pay for the expense of rescuing them if it becomes necessary.  I would absolutely including mountain climbers in there.  How much money has been wasted every year by rescue teams trying to find climbers on mountains in this country?  I personally don’t want to pay a penny towards it.  These mountain climbers, solo-sailors, and the like, are engaging in competitive activity for their own benefit, way beyond what most people do, and should be expected to assume the risk of something going wrong.  It is not the same as a car wreck on the freeway, since most people must be on freeways to live their lives.  Not so for being a sailboat in the middle of nowhere, or hanging off a snow-covered mountain in the middle of a blizzard.  So yes, I believe in individual freedom to choose to participate, but also believe in individual responsibility to pay for extroardinary costs that may result from their decision.

Report this

By SGater, July 21, 2010 at 2:21 am Link to this comment

Why should they be expected to foot the costs? It would bankrupt them and they wouldn’t end up paying it back anyway? Say you when walking in the hill somewhere without a map and got lost because of the weather and had to be rescued is that not more irresponsible than her? This girl will have had the best equipment and training in an emergency and how to be rescued.

Are we now going to have to pay for our own rescues? How the hell did people manage to sail the Atlantic, take the first steps at the poles and on the moon. I know these people couldn’t be rescued if things when wrong but we need people to step up to the plate and challenge the concept that “This cannot be done”. It can.

Report this

By NABNYC, July 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

She and her family should be responsible for any penny spent to rescue her.  But beyond that, I disagree.  Parents allow their children to sail and surf all the time, and things can go wrong, kids drown.  Kids drive cars, go on school trips, play football and track.  Things can happen.  I’m not a water person, so this does not appeal to me.  But I can’t say it’s any riskier than many other common activities, and I cannot say that this girl was not qualified and competent to make the trip.  It’s a judgment call for her and her parents.  But I just don’t think the public should be expected to pay for the rescue if things go wrong.

Report this
mindful's avatar

By mindful, July 20, 2010 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

I have a hard time with those who justify virtually anything.

Gambling? So what if I win and its my money
Underage sex? She wanted it and needed the money
Navigating alone as an in experienced kid
Well, it was her choice, and if she was lost, she died doing what her parents wanted her to do.

Sad indeed, the ability to assign risk to others while selfishly reaping any benefits of success. The fame, the money the glory.

Report this

By David Fox, July 20, 2010 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Silly article.  One child among billions, adults are pushing them towards their death right now via inaction on climate change. Can you not find something more worthwhile to write about? 

HEY!  Look over there!

Report this

By Virindi, July 20, 2010 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What an ignorant write up. What happened to her would have happened to anyone. Her being 16 had nothing to do with the ocean acting up and knocking her out that day.

Report this

By SGater, July 20, 2010 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Who ever got anywhere without a little danger?

She knew the risks and so did the family, so what.

Report this

By samosamo, July 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm Link to this comment



By rich roe, July 19 at 5:11 pm

Well, said. Seems in this over paranoid world, at least here in the
u.s.a., ‘vulnerable’ children or teenagers seem to be a much
better zoo animal to just be watched and remain that way, and
given no chance of seeing or touching nature.

Report this

By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

She was in an AMERICA’S CUP type sailboat.

To circumnavigate the world by herself   ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Report this

By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

To add insult to injury to public ignorance,

Why did they outrig this girl in racing sailboat ?????

To circumnavigate the world single handedly?????????

I can tell you why , but I believe most on TD are
capable of figuring this out for yourselves…

Report this

By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

A good book on the subject of teenage
singlehanding sail boat around the world is


I can’t remember the kids name,  but a damn good read ! !

Report this

By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

My skepticism and cynicism lends me to suspect

that the mast was rigged to break ! !

A sixteen yr old girl in a 60ft. sloop,
meant to singlehand it around the world ! !

Report this

By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Then there was the guy that recently wen to Antartica
and decided he was going to climb a bad ass mountain,
then got stranded for three days and it took some help
from the govt. to rescue him..

  I believe that I just might have let him freeze to
death…. a mountain in Antartica….go figure ! ! ! !

  However, he is probably the smart one, for he too will
capitolize on daytime TV rescue show.

Report this

By ofersince72, July 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

I bet she text messeges all she cares..

The fact that they put her in 60ft sloop says a lot.

Anyone familiar with sailing could understand that even
the most experienced of sailors would have a task with
single handing a 60ft sloop.  Most sailboots of that
size are in the yaul or ketch configuration.

  I doubt she was ever in much danger, or that rescue
was ever very far from hand.
This will make one of those good weekday afternoon TV
rescue reality shows.

Report this

By robert puglia, July 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

better she should be a mindless teenager hammering away
in a non-stop barrage of text messaging? gone to sea, 
good for her.

Report this

By Wakefield, July 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is more danger on the unpoliced, half-drunk, half-assed driving ranged often referred to as I-285 around Atlanta than in the Indian Ocean. The North Sea might be more perilous, or a war zone. Or an encounter with a polar bear, or getting lost in the Amazon. But that’s about it.

Every day just driving in the Atlanta area with true daredevils, baron von Motoschports, and the boom-click-boom cars cruising at 120 mph in a 65 MPH zone weaving in and out of traffic with no signal lights, is far more perilous to the commonweal than the oceans of the world.

I’m glad for once a teen has some initiative and drive often lacking in the video butt fat generation that seeks comfort and delayed adulthood for so long. In yesteryear, you were an adult at 18 and the parents knocked your tail out of the house and you left the nest and tried your own wings.

The critique here begging for solace and comfort (and seeing a “health care bill” full of crap that coddle you until age 26 on your parents’ plans) is very symptomatic at what is going on culturally in the West—the utter infantilization of the populace. As Hillair Belloc predicted would be the case in the so-called “advanced” West, where nothing is to be done by some authority (though generally this is goverance by bigger authorities than parents) and where permission trumps freedom.

Bully for the girl for busting the usual mold. We all care for our kids. But coddling them if they have the ability to go beyond the usual expectations, stifles them. The challenges this society faces (the Western World in toto) are not going to be met by passive, obedient, compliant people.

Report this

By rich roe, July 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank God there are people like Abby Sunderland who are still willing go out and live and take some risks! 

Not everyone is meant to hide from the realities of the world behind a keyboard and a monitor.

As soon as you argue for the crushing of the spirit of adventure in people you herd them into a pen.  It might be nice, safe, and comfortable, but that’s where sheep belong, not people.

If it weren’t for people like her and her supportive family we’d all be back in the Dark Ages still.  And for those who argue for safety and security over exploration and adventure, how do you think you got to ever reap the benefits of what you enjoy now? 

It is because others took risks you were too afraid to take.

Report this

By Tom Weidermeijer, July 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow.  Comments ‘like don’t rescue her’, ‘Colorado Balloon Boy’ or ‘what about pirates’ just show that some of you have no idea what the hell you are talking about. 

Pirates?  She was traveling around Antartica, in the Indian Ocean, but more commonly known as the Southern Ocean.  Normally the Southern Ocean is dangerous.  This time of year it is VERY dangerous (part of why thousands of people have died digging two canals).

Round the world races, which circle Antartica, do not do it in the winter, just for this reason.

Jimmy Cornell’s ‘Sailing Routes’ is the BIBLE to offshore sailing… which is why they should have known better and delayed the trip four to six months. 

Also, any mariner is OBLIGATED to save another in distress.  Boy, if that only worked on land.

Report this

By faith, July 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Thoughtful and well written article.
Next, several things that should be mentioned include the fact that because of
boat mechanical problems, both Miss Abby and her parents knew -KNEW that
she would entering the Indian Ocean during a dangerous season. 
Consequently, the 30 foot waves should have been anticipated.  Abby should
have been forced to quit before she proceeded to that area.  Second, The
Sunderland’s said they could not afford an expensive oceanic search.  Why not? 
Why isn’t there Maritime laws requiring that a bond be posted for anyone,
particularly a young solo sailor before that person engages on a treacherous
adventure.  Adventures are great, but someone must pay for consequences.  It
was really unfair for the Sunderlands to expect France, Australia, anyone else to
pick up the tab for their personal adventure.  The little episode endangered
lives and cost hundreds of thousands in currency.  This episode reminds me of
the 13 year old who recently climbed Mt. Everest.  Include the blind person who
also climbed Mt. Everest.  It was not possible without the funds, expertise, and
aid of sherpas, guides, etc.  Kind of ridiculous isn’t it?

Report this

By squeaky jones, July 19, 2010 at 10:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mom and Pop Sunderland are giving birth to their 8th child. Hello, population explosion violence. I forgot it is all about them, and never mind the planet can not tolerate people pumping out babies just because they can.

Report this

By ajnpblc, July 19, 2010 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

How was Abby expected to deal with the pirates that infest the areas near Africa and SE Asia?  Those pirates have captured large freighters and tankers staffed with dozens of men.  How would her father react to the news that his daughter had been captured, raped and murdered by a gang of pirates?  More preaching about how he values his daughter?

I would strive to keep my ADULT daughter from sailing into such waters.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 19, 2010 at 6:58 am Link to this comment

I guess the floggers are tired of flogging Polanski and need some new bad people to flog.  On, floggers!  Flog, flog!

Report this

By Charles Bell, July 19, 2010 at 6:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I understand the concern exhibited by the apparently
elderly author of this rather long-winded article. 
Young people who engage in perilous activities do expose
themselves to peril, and some of them perish.  Most who
die do so on a skateboard, a diving board, a football
field or in a vehicle, all accepted venues of youthful
risk-taking.  Those few who choose to attempt more
spectacular feats—solo sailing or summiting Everest -
- indeed face a higher test of ability, experience and
judgment.  Should that test be formalized?  Should the
aspiring youngster be required to obtain a permit from
some authority or simply be prohibited from attempting
the feat until reaching an age that some authority
considers appropriate?  Could such restrictions be
imposed without curtailing the spirit of adventure that
is one of the great gifts of youth?  I think not. 
Obviously a youngster who sets such high goals must be
skilled in the relevant discipline and thoroughly aware
of the dangers involved.  Both Abby Sunderland in her
boat and Jordan Romero on his mountains clearly met that
test; we don’t know whether tiny Jessica Domhoff did. 
Equally important, the youngster must be the decider, in
full charge and always free to go on or turn back.  Abby
and Jordan clearly were; Jessica almost certainly was
not.  But I can see no reasonable way of making these
considerations into legally or societally enforced

It would of course be better if young people could
attempt such feats in a pure spirit of adventure without
motives of self-glorification or financial gain.  That
ideal is alas an unrealistic one in today’s world. 
Athletes wear outfits that resemble billboards and
compete in stadiums named for corporations. Expeditions
brave the wilderness of Wall Street in search of
financing before they set foot in the wild.  Young
adventurers must behave similarly if they wish to
realize their dreams.  Parental support and sometimes
even parental participation are indispensable: Abby’s
parents kept in constant touch from afar and Jordan’s
father stood alongside him on Everest’s summit.  But if
the young protagonist is the initiator and the ultimate
decision-maker then I think the venture is commendable
and the risk worthwhile.

One commentator compared Abby’s voyage to that of the
one-day-sensation balloon boy.  The comparison is
ridiculous.  The boy took no part in the setup nor was
he even aware of his intended role.  He never set foot
in the balloon nor was he ever in danger.  The only risk
was taken by his publicity-seeking parents who quite
justly lost their bet.  No doubt the lad suffered
temporary embarrassment but he seems a tough-minded sort
who even at the age of six is probably capable of
judging his parents for the tawdry fools they are.

Report this

By Tobysgirl, July 19, 2010 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

I am all for reasonable risk-taking by young people. Due to injuries sustained as a teenager while riding horses five and a half days a week, I now have severe osteoarthritis and degenerative disk disease.

And that’s fine with me. I think when we try to raise kids in bubbles, we’ll just have other types of risk-taking, such as drunk driving and sniffing the freon from the air-conditioner.

That said, this was over the top. Did anyone catch that her mother couldn’t even go to meet her because SHE’S HAVING ANOTHER BABY? Jeez, do you think this kid was maybe trying to get some attention? Isn’t sailing locally enough of a risk for a 16-year-old? Why does risk-taking have to involve piles of money, a website, the involvement of the public, and media exposure?

Report this

By diman, July 19, 2010 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

Agree with Egomet Bonmot

The shouldn’t have rescued her, she wanted to feel, to know what survival in the open sea meant? They should have left her there with the broken mast and trying to survive just long enough to feel what thousands of sinking sailors had felt before her. Hey rich girl, you knew what you were dealing with here.

Report this
godistwaddle's avatar

By godistwaddle, July 19, 2010 at 4:14 am Link to this comment

Thomas Hardy:  “The death of a child is never really to be regretted, considering how much he has escaped.”

Report this
Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, July 19, 2010 at 12:07 am Link to this comment

One rich 16-year-old tries to sail around the world and garners literally thousands of column inches of hand-wringing & invective from blogs and columnists.  Parental abuse!  Neglect!

    What about the tens of thousands of poor and minority kids, just a year or two older, who are gulled out of shopping malls daily by army recruiters and given a trip to the killing fields of Afghanistan?  Talk about your misplaced emphasis.

    Army teens don’t have blogs, sponsors, homing beacons or French fishing boats at their disposal.  Still, we’d rather spend two solid weeks debating ROTC at Harvard than, say, the Army recruitment office in my local poor & minority mall, which just this week installed a Duke Nukem-style videogame in the thoroughfare ten steps away from their doors, complete with nifty plastic assault rifles attached.

    Those parents were wrong wrong wrong, people.  She could have drowned!

Report this

By cisco, July 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Laurence Sunderland ” Abby is a fine sailor. I’ve never advocated this for 16-
year-olds. I’ve advocated this for experienced sailors.”

There can be no doubt that Abby is a skilled sailor and that she isn’t the average
teenager. “

What do we have to show that Abby was a skilled and experienced sailor when she
embarked on this voyage? Nada… except her father’s word…
In reality she had very little experience at any level…
If you doubt this ask her father to spell out what experience she actually did have..
he won’t because he can’t.

Report this

By Xntrk, July 18, 2010 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

No mention of the Colorado Balloon Boy. I think his family is one of the closest comparisons to Abby’ ShoeCity’ Sunderland’s. In both cases, you have a family willing to put a child at risk to generate publicity and maybe [god help us] a TV Reality show. The biggest difference I see is that the Sunderlands have money.

It is wonderful when children have dreams of greatness and conquering challenges. Parents are supposed to encourage the dreams, without ignoring the risks. Another comparison might be the mother who sent her 13 year old daughter off to party with Polansky. I think both mother and daughter had dreams of making the Big Time. Risky behavior is just that, and it doesn’t always involve sex.

Report this

By Hiker Dude, July 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d be more worried about my 16 year old driving than I would be about Abby
Sunderland on the high seas.  Few parents have the resources or the courage to
allow their children to do something remarkable and when they allow the
children to do something great they are subjected to criticism from those for
whom merely walking in the local park might be considered adventure.

There is no greatness in life without risk.  At what age we are allowed to take
those risks has a lot to do with our upbringing and personal fortitude.

When someone dies doing something adventuresome it is always a tragedy. 
However, when someone succeeds at a young age it is a greater achievement
because it heralds what is possible.  It shows us how far we have come.

I have two sons, ages 11 and 14, and I would love to see them partake in a
fantastic adventure before they reach 18.  I would support them
wholeheartedly.  What I am not looking forward to seeing them do is drive. 
Thousands of teens die every year in car crashes but to my knowledge not one
has done so trying to sail around the world.

Report this

By techno, July 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As someone who has done my share of open-ocean sailing, I must protest the
tone of this. 

From what I saw, young Ms. Sunderland was out in a VERY well-equipped boat. 
She encountered a storm that dismasted her boat.  She used extremely good
judgment and followed textbook emergency procedures.  She was rescued by
someone who was already in her vicinity and emerged from the experience
nearly unscathed.

I have never been in a storm like the one Sunderland encountered but I have
been in some violent ones.  I have been with several grown men who did not
exhibit one half the clear-headed judgement she did.

There was NOTHING wrong with Ms. Sunderland’s attempt at a round-the-
world attempt.  There are hundreds of books about this activity and to see how
she handled herself, it looks like she had read a bunch of them.

I thought being a progressive was about the glorification of human potential. 
Ms. Sunderland was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime and turned in an A+
performance.  I think we should be celebrating her desire to do something very
difficult, very well.  I personally found her story to be VERY uplifting in a year
where most of the stories have been dreary beyond words.

Report this
Samson's avatar

By Samson, July 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment

to Malcontent ....

Actually, what the comparison would be that your grandpa should have entered you into the Indy 500 at that age.  That’s closer to the danger level of such a trip.

Used to pay loose attention to some of the around-the-world sailboat races.  It wasn’t that uncommon for a race to loose several boats in exactly this fashion. 

Our society says that this girl was years away from being able to responsibly decide whether or not to drink a beer.  How she’s at the same time is responsible enough to decide to take such a dangerous trip seems very odd to me?

Should at least the age to attempt death-defying stunts be at least the same as the drinking age?  If not higher?  Of course, I think a drinking age of 21 is ridiculous, but 18 for both makes at least some sense.

After all, 18 is the age we set as a society for when a young person can but their own life at risk by joining the army.

Of course, none of this would be a problem if no one paid any attention to these stupid ‘records’ for being the youngest to do something.

Report this

By samosamo, July 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm Link to this comment


Not many kids are allowed by their parents to crawl, or in this
case, sail out of the vulnerable stages of life. At 16 I would
surmise that she had an idea of what life was about for
everyone. She’s luckily a lot better off than most kids who
never get out of the vulnerable stage of life.

In the end, reckless or not, she was lucky and as was noted,
she was prepared.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.”  Louis Pasteur

“Those things that don’t kill us only makes us stronger”. -

Report this

By Malcontent, July 18, 2010 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“And Caswell neglects to mention a salient detail in the Jessica Dubroff tragedy:  Her plane was overloaded at takeoff by pro-grade video cameras and batteries installed at the request of media.  If the equipment hadn’t been on board, there very likely wouldn’t have been a crash.”

This would seem to make the authors point. Obviously Jessica Dubroff wasn’t well trained enough to even know how to inspect her craft before take off, or know how important weight is in an aircraft. How is that even remotely close to being talented, if one is not even competent?

My grandpa used to let me steer down our residential street, when I was that age. Maybe we should’ve hit route 66?

Report this
Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, July 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

Think pieces are great, but really…

“Ask Lloyds of London to quote you insurance policies for a solo voyage round the world.”  (I didn’t)

“The captain of the French fishing boat that rescued the girl will never bask in the light of international celebrity.”  (I can’t name him)

“To my knowledge the legality of Abby Sunderland’s aborted voyage hasn’t been considered by officials.”  (but I made no calls to “officials” to check.)

And Caswell neglects to mention a salient detail in the Jessica Dubroff tragedy:  Her plane was overloaded at takeoff by pro-grade video cameras and batteries installed at the request of media.  If the equipment hadn’t been on board, there very likely wouldn’t have been a crash.

Report this
Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide