For those a little crabby over the Abby Sunderland story …


You told us so. C’mon, you’re dying to say it.

Just do it.

Abby Sunderland, scooped up by a French fishing boat somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean today, could doubt herself, too. That’s what 16 year-olds, and well as those 96 years young, tend to do.

The battered 40-foot, mastless vessel she may never see again is called Wild Eyes, but when she pushed off from Marina del Rey six months ago, navigating between dreams and criticism, Abby went into this thing with eyes wide open. So did her family.

Halfway around the world, within reach of becoming the youngest to ever circumnavigate the planet by herself, her eyes may be full of tears. But she did grow up fast.

A horrible nervousness amidst the calm of prayer followed Laurence and Marianne Sunderland around their home Thursday while TV crews camped outside when the news came that Abby’s lines of communications had failed and she’d set up a distress signal.

The parents had to be asked again for their reaction, and their explanation.

How could they recklessly let this happen?

They’d faced it already months ago, as well as years ago, when they allowed their then-17-year-old son, Zac, to do the same thing.

He came back safely, albeit after some encounters with pirates, horrible weather, things breaking – all the kind of stuff that happen on these sort of Moby Dick adventures.

Accusing them of insane child endangerment, rushing a trip at the wrong time of year in a perilous direction, and now inquiring how this these search-and-rescue teams will be compensated – the questions have changed, just re-asked, by talk-show blowhards as well as NBC’s “Today” show, having the family stand outside their home in the darkness of Friday morning to size up Abby’s misfortunes after she was spotted by aircraft.

Through it all, the family said the same thing — we have faith in her.

She proved her parents right, doing what most her age might not be able to do. She didn’t panic. She asked for help, activating search beacons, then hunkering down.

It was the perfect storm — the same armchair parents who doubted the success of this trip had all the evidence they needed, and without the guilt of having to pontificate about it over a dead body.

We told you so.

We’ll tell you something right back.

We’re just as comfortable and proud now in naming Zac and Abby Sunderland as our Daily News Sports People of 2009 as we were at the end of last year.

That honor was an acknowledgement of something that seemed to be missing in the sports world – the pursuit of life.

You can take calculated risks without being reckless. Just like you can be so bold as to order the larger-screen high-def TV so that it’s easier to settle into our NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR viewing seasons, navigating through vacations, weddings and family gatherings so we don’t miss major sporting events.

We can plot a plan and take action, or we can be spectators and speculate.

What Zac already accomplished, and what Abby had set her mind to try to do, should continue to be more a beacon of hope than hype. They’ve showed there’s more do for teenagers today vegging out watching someone else’s real world happen on a TV show.

If we’re guilty of anything lately it’s living vicariously through Zac and Abby the last couple of years. But it’s also been much more inspiring.

Zac and Abby Sunderland faced nature head on. Boy and Girl versus Wild.

They measured their intestinal fortitude and then were fortunate enough to have parents gave their two oldest something many adults forget to hand over to their kids today — the opportunity to succeed and / or fail.

We’ll leave it alone for now with Abby’s latest blog posting (linked here)- on the deck of this French ship, not sure where she’s headed next, and apologizing for not having written in so long:

“It seems everybody is eager to pounce on my story now that something bad has happened . . .

“There are plenty of things people can think of to blame . . .my age, the time of year and many more. The truth is, I was in a storm and you don’t sail through the Indian Ocean without getting in at least one storm. . . . Storms are part of the deal when you set out to sail around the world.

“Since when does age create gigantic waves?”

When the waves of criticism subside, you live and learn. Thank God, Abby Sunderland is able to do both today.

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  • boatscribe

    It would appear the writer has a limited knowledge of sailing circumnavigations. Sixteen-year-old Australian girl Jessica Watson completed her round-the-world, singlehanded, non-stop, unassisted voyage last month, but she did it at the right time of year, used the right boat and was prepared. Age doesn’t create gigantic waves, but winter in the Roaring Forties of the South Indian Ocean most certainly does. Forget about Abby’s age, it was a bad decision for anyone to attempt that crossing at this time of year.