Los Angeles, California (CNN) — A 16-year-old California girl who is attempting to sail solo around the world triggered a distress signal during rough seas in the Indian Ocean on Thursday, her family said.
Abby Sunderland’s family began scrambling to organize a search-and-rescue effort for her after they learned her emergency beacon was detected just an hour after they last spoke to her, according to Jeff Casher, an engineer on her support team.
Sunderland’s small sailboat was adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean about 2,000 miles east of Madagascar, 2,000 miles west of Australia and 500 miles north of the French Antarctic Islands, Casher said Thursday afternoon.
When I first saw news of Abby Sunderland’s ambitions to sail around the world solo my heart was filled with admiration. The idea anyone, much less a 16 year old girl, would embark on such a voyage for the sake of pure accomplishment and adventure is awe inspiring.
This morning the world wakes to news of her disappearance – and awareness of her long ambition and recent struggle is spreading. Mixed among the commentary on the situation you’ll find words of encouragement, derision and disgust. Many people seem only able to view the situation as a tragedy or mistake – failure or negligence.
But the real story here – whatever the outcome – is one of risks and dreams. A person chasing a dream always risks something – at a minimum the dream may never been attained. In the worst case the pursuit may result in pain or death. But that’s what makes it worth the doing. No meaningful goal is ever attained without risk and maybe even suffering.
All that’s needed from us – the witnesses – is a measured amount of compassion for another human being in dire straits and awe at the ambition and drive displayed in pursuit of a dream.
Best of luck to Abby. And best wishes to her family.
UPDATE: She’s been found alive.