When California’s Abby Sunderland had to give up her round-the-world sailing trip, her yacht had to be abandoned when it capsized. Now, it has finally been located by a tuna spotter off the Australian coast.
According to NBC News, Abby’s “heart skipped a beat” when she heard the news that her yacht had been located. It was confirmed by South Australia Police on Wednesday that her vessel, Wild Eyes, had been “found drifting 12 miles south of Kangaroo Island on Monday.” Images released by South Australia Police show the vessel heavily encrusted with barnacles and still upturned.
The discovery was made by a tuna spotter as it flew over waters near Kangaroo Island.
“We got a boat called the Silver Image which works for our company to come up and have a look, to make sure there was no-one on it or anything like that,” said Peter Stevens, a colleague of the person who first sighted Wild Eyes, according to Australia’s ABC.
“He checked it and waited for the chopper to come out and have a look at it.”
Abby Sunderland was 16-years-old at the time her yacht capsized and lost its mast in the waters between Africa and Australia on June 10, 2010. After the vessel capsized, it took two days before she was rescued in a joint effort involving the Australian airline Qantas and a French commercial shipping vessel. She had been attempting the monumental feat of becoming the youngest person to “sail around the world alone and unassisted.”
Since being rescued, Wild Eyes has been floating the seas and has only now been located more than eight years since Sunderland’s attempt to sail around the world.
Abby, who is now 25-years-old and the mother of three children, as well as another yet to be born, released a statement to Australia’s ABC on the discovery, citing that it was a “very emotional” time for her now.
“It brought back memories — good and not so good — but it was neat to see it after so long. It looked a little creepy, that’s to be expected after so long”
While the vessel has been sighted, it has not yet been retrieved. Sunderland, who now resides in Alabama, is hopeful that her yacht will be retrieved and is curious to find out if the video equipment left inside and used to record her journey is still there and functional.
“I’d love to know what’s inside and if any of the video equipment is still there,” she said.
“It would be great to try and retrieve the boat but given the costs, I don’t think that will happen. I always knew the boat was high quality and very safe so it doesn’t really surprise me that it’s still floating.”
Abby’s father, Laurence Sunderland, also spoke of the remarkable find.
“It brings back the incredible rescue that was taken part in by the Australians and the French,” Sunderland said.
“It’s still mind-blowing, still processing, it’s very humbling to have this all come to the surface after such a long time… remarkable.”
However, since the initial sighting, a police spokesperson has reported that the yacht has once again gone missing. They also fear that the yacht may have finally sunk after all this time.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) mentioned the plan for salvage, if possible.
“The salvage of the yacht will only be attempted if it creates a hazard to other vessels, and if the yacht comes ashore, the department will issue a notice of removal of the wreck.”