Abby Sunderland Awaits Rescue


Like any sailor, I was very relieved to hear that Abby Sunderland (right) was alive and well after a harrowing dismasting in the Indian Ocean. The 16-year-old teen was attempting to become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate when her boat was dismasted in the Indian Ocean.

Ill be first to say that many teens today could use role models like Abby who dare to dream, and carry out the hard work to fulfill those dreams. But the recent parade of teenagers (each younger than the one prior) setting out to be the youngest sailor circumnavigators raises some serious questions about how we in the media should approach the topic.

Is it right for media outlets to publicize quests to become the youngest circumnavigator. If so, do we not draw the line somewhere?

When framing this discussion, one thing I try to remember is that a solo sailor is not putting only himself at risk. He also presents a small, but very real risk to others in his path.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at