Abby Sunderland, the Thousand Oaks teenager who is sailing around the world, set off her emergency locater beacons this morning in the southern Indian Ocean. Her latest blog post, on Wednesday, was titled A Rough Few Days. Pete Thomas posts at his blog:
Sunderland, who had been attempting to sail around the world alone, endured multiple knockdowns in 60-knot winds Thursday before conditions briefly abated.
However, her parents lost satellite phone contact early this morning and an hour later were notified by the Australian Coast Guard that both of Sunderland's EPIRB satellite devices had been activated.
One is apparently is attached to a survival suit or a life raft and meant to be used when a person is in the water or aboard a life raft.
Abby's father struggled with emotions and said he didn't know if his daughter was in a life raft or aboard the boat, or whether the boat was upside down.
"Everything seemed to be under control," Laurence Sunderland said. "But then our call dropped and a hour later the Coast Guard called."
Abby is hundreds of miles from land. The nearest ship was about 400 miles away. The rescue effort is being coordinated by the French-controlled Reunion Islands and Australia. Sunderland had been sailing in 50- to 60-foot seas and it was dark when the EPIRB devices were activated.
The Sunderlands are asking people to pray for their daughter, a high-school junior from Thousand Oaks, Calif.
* Zac Sunderland, her brother who in July 2009 became the first person under the age of 18 to sail solo around the world, to the Daily News: "Everyone's praying. It's kind of a waiting game at this point. The main hope is to get a plane out there."
Edited post with updates