Abby Sunderland

Camera Assistant, Inspirational Speaker and Sailor

Abigail Jillian "Abby" Sunderland (born October 19, 1993) is an American sailor who, in 2010, attempted to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. She got stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean at just 16, 2000 miles away from land, put up her distress signal, and lucky made it out alive, and is still living to this day.

Abby Sunderland at the Houston Boat Show in Kemah, Texas, U.S. on April 14, 2011



Unsinkable: A Young Woman's Courageous Battle on the High Seas (2011)

Co-written by Lynn Vincent.
  • One day that same year, I told my dad that someday, I would sail around the world alone.
    • p. 14
  • Fewer people have successfully solo-circumnavigated the globe than have journeyed into space.
    • p. 14
  • All the ingenuity, all the high-tech gear, all the jury-rigging—sometimes the sea would rip it all away until there was only you, the Creator, and His mercy.
    • p. 17
  • I wanted to break the record, of course, and become the youngest person to sail around the world solo and unassisted.
    • p. 27
  • On October 19, 2009, my sixteenth birthday, Wild Eyes officially became mine! Now it was really happening.
    • p. 31
  • The critics barged in to harp on every decision we made. . .Sadly, I began to doubt myself. Maybe I was too young. Maybe I wasn’t a good enough sailor.
    • p. 48
  • After the week of stormy weather, she set sail under sunny skies, on a glassy sea with a big swell running.
    • p. 63
  • Being at sea is like watching the whole world in high-definition.
    • p. 88
  • It seems like people my age are over-protected today, even to the point where a lot of parents refuse to put their kids in the position to make important decisions, to aspire to great things, because they don’t want to put them in a position to fail.
    • p. 92
  • I was so thankful that my parents trusted me enough and had enough faith in my abilities to let me follow my passion and try to do something great, even if I might fail.
    • p. 93
  • But none of that kept me from picturing what a tsunami might look like if it did rise up and roar toward my little boat like some watery blue version of the Great Wall of China.
    • p. 97
  • I saw the loose tiller jolt hard to the side as the boat began to spin.
    • p. 102
  • I’m one-hundred-fifty miles off Cape Horn, both autopilots are broken, and my boat is drifting toward one of the nastiest chunks of ocean on the face of the earth.
    • p. 106
  • The winds were blowing from west to east, pushing Abby’s boat toward the rocks as Abby struggled with the autopilots below. If Wild Eyes reached those islands, she wouldn’t run aground, keel in the sand. She would be smashed into pieces.
    • p. 111
  • When a sailor overcomes crushing adversity, there’s a massive sense of accomplishment.
    • p. 118
  • Terror ripped through me as I was falling, falling, falling toward the sea.
    • p. 123
  • If a big wave came at the wrong moment, it would sweep me off into forty-eight-degree water, where I might last twenty minutes. Drowning quickly might be better.
    • p. 124
  • Slowly, my brain let me in on the fact that I had just come this close to dying.
    • p. 125
  • Going up the mast is one of the most dangerous things you can do as a solo sailor.
    • p. 143
  • The terrifying physics of going up-mast in heavy seas are inescapable.
    • p. 144
  • But the more times she missed, the faster she’d be traveling when she finally slammed into the mast. And it wasn’t if she hit the mast; it was when. At that point, Abby would be either severely injured or dead.
    • p. 145
  • The swells were amazing! As big as three-story apartment buildings!
    • p.. 153
  • It was dark. Something had fallen on top of the cabin light, turning the cabin into a black tunnel. I couldn’t hear anything at all. The roll didn’t stop. It continued to port, and for just a few seconds I was sitting on the ceiling in the dark.
    • p. 155
  • Even without looking I knew: there was no way I still had a mast. And without a mast, the trip was over.
    • p. 156
  • Fifty feet of mast lay in the heaving water, downed lines and shrouds holding it there.
    • p. 156
  • I knew that even if I was able to call for help, I was in a place so remote that it wasn’t likely there would be anyone who could help me. And even if there were, it could take weeks.
    • p. 157
  • The seriousness of my situation started to sink in, and again I fought panic. I pushed it down, but it was harder this time, like my insides were an open can of shaken soda and I was trying to keep it from bubbling up out of the top.
    • p. 158
  • In that moment it dawned on me that everything has to line up perfectly for something to turn out this awful.
    • p. 159
  • It was like a horrible movie clip, only worse, because I could feel it—not just see it.
    • p. 166
  • Marianne tried to stay hopeful. But slowly her imagination bulldozed her optimism aside and pushed her mind into a dark place. There, she saw Abby tethered to the boat in her bright red foul-weather gear, being dragged along dead in the sea.
    • p. 172
  • The only thing I knew to do was to pray. “Lord, if I’m going to be rescued,” I said out loud, “please let me know.”
    • p. 175
  • Against reason, I thought that the next swell would be it: another rogue wave would roll me again . . .At that moment, a noise from above caught my attention. And I looked up just in time to see a gigantic white airplane fly by.
    • p. 176
  • When I saw the plane, I was absolutely astonished! Two emotions crashed over me: surging joy and crazy fear.
    • p. 176-177
  • The things that happen on the sea take you beyond yourself, beyond human capability.
    • p. 178
  • Just like that, a single phone call erased one possible, horrendous future—and replaced it with the bright certainty that God had answered the prayers of thousands and that their beloved Abby was coming home.
    • p. 179
  • Unable to make radio contact with this second plane I felt my chances were fading fast. Dropping the radio mic, I sprinted up to the deck . . . and saw a huge ship bearing down on me!
    • p. 186
  • Just as I was about to grab the rope ladder, a huge swell lifted the dinghy nearly to La Reunion’s deck level, and at least a dozen smiling French fishermen pulled me aboard.
    • p. 187
  • I will never forget the feeling of walking into my home, a place that while drifting helpless in the middle of the Indian Ocean I wondered if I would ever see again.
    • p. 193
  • I am twelve thousand miles wiser, twelve thousand miles more resilient, and I have twelve thousand miles more faith in God.
    • p. 196
  • I will definitely attempt to sail around the world again. In fact, I can’t wait for the chance to try again.
    • p. 197
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