LA Times:

Facing dozens of cameras, 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland thanked her rescuers on Tuesday, recounted how she got through her most terrifying moments at sea and spoke about how her family has gotten through sharp criticism of the voyage.

Responding to those who said she was too young to sail around the world by herself, Abby defended her abilities. On boats since she was a toddler, she has worked as a crew member on sailboats piloted by her father, a shipwright, and her older brother, Zac, who made his own circumnavigation last year at age 17, before departing on her trip in late January.

After she traveled 12,000 nautical miles, her voyage was stopped only because a rogue wave turned her boat upside down and snapped her 60-foot mast, she told reporters at a news conference in Marina del Rey.

"I've crossed two oceans and two capes," she said. "The questions about my age should have been done months ago.... My trip didn't end because of something I did wrong."

People who know Abby best say she's always been a can-do girl. She raised her family's 25-pound Thanksgiving turkey two years ago. At 13, she decided she wanted to sail around the world. While onboard her 40-foot-sloop, Wild Eyes, she said, she read "Do Hard Things'' by Alex and Brett Harris, which rails against society's low expectations of teenagers.

Last week, while some other teenage girls were camping outside a Los Angeles theater to catch of glimpse of the stars of the latest "Twilight" movie, Abby was on a French patrol boat making her way back to her Thousand Oaks home after her rescue at sea.

"Never much into vampires,'' she responded to a question about whether she had seen any of the wildly popular movies based on the "Twilight" books.

On Tuesday, her stories were about weeks of adventure, moments of terror and of dreams dashed.

The criticism if this girl and her parents is misplaced.

She is obviously an accomplished sailor who was able to handle adversity better than many adults. If I were still racing a sailbaot, I would be happy to have her as a member of the crew. We should give her credit for her efforts, and her parents deserve some credit for raising a daughter who has demonstrated the courage to meet life's challenges at an age when many never leave the neighborhood. Judging by some neighborhoods in LA for example, she was probably safer on the boat.

As for the storm, it reminds me of a sailor's prayer, "Oh Lord, they ocean is so great, and my boat is so small."


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