I tend to agree with Jetexas. However, I also agree that, in general, parents who help their teenage children undertake this kind of voyage display questionable judgment - well worthy of debate in places like CF. I also agree that the newly fashionable interest in being the "youngest" to do this is profoundly perilous. Sooner or later someone will help a totally unqualified teenager set off on a reckless solo, nonstop, unassisted circumnavigation
. However, and ironically, Abby and Jessica are, if anything, the exceptions which prove the rule
. They are both highly skilled, experienced, and as well or better qualified than most sailors who attempt this kind of circumnavigation
In my view, Abby’s parents made two mistakes
1. They let her 17 year old brother do it.
After that they were doomed. No parent can long withstand the "Well, you let my brother do it" argument. So, they mounted a now fashionable kind of "campaign" to provide her the best possible equipment
. I have no problem with the profit motive. This has always been part of solo circumnavigating. Joshua Slocom lined up his book deal before he left.
2. They chose the wrong boat and/or inadequately prepared it.
Yes, Wild Eyes is a proven open ocean racer
which has already circumnavigated in "legs." However, it is a high tech, complex, racing
machine and probably quite different from the boats Abby usually sailed. More importantly, they had problems with this boat from the first day they sailed her in Rhode Island
. Despite the refit
by a small army of experts in California
, the whole thing was a rush job, and they never got it completely right.
In contrast, Jessica sailed a 26 old example of a cruising boat with a proven solo circumnavigation history
. The refit
was prolonged and thorough. Eg. The boat was originally built with the extra strong mast
version. Nevertheless, the mast
was replaced with a custom spar and rigging
. Through 7 knockdowns including a complete capsize
, the mast/rig proved to be unbreakable.
We still don’t know the circumstances of Abby’s dismasting
. We don’t have her account, and hers is the only account we will ever have. Unlike many here I do not consider knockdowns to be a automatic sign of poor seamanship. Despite modern weather
routing, if you spend months solo sailing some of the most remote
and dangerous seas in the world, you may well encounter overwhelming conditions in which a knockdown/capsize is inevitable. In his various solo voyages Bernard Moitessier was knocked down several times and his boat was wrecked off Cabo San Lucas.