What inspired you to take this trip around the world?
I’ve been around boats all of my life. I started single-handing when I was 13. Every little kid dreams of being a fireman, princess, doctor or whatever. My dream was to sail around the world. Watching my brother do it last year made me realize my dream could be done. But dreams don’t come true overnight; I knew it would take lots of hard work and perseverance.
Will you be taking the same route as your brother, Zac Sunderland?
No, I will be taking a different route.
What made you decide to take this route?
There are good and bad things about both routes. There’s a trade off. Where I’m going, it’s freezing. Where Zac went there were pirates. Personally, I’m terrified of pirates so I chose the route around the southern capes.
What advice did your brother Zac offer you?
He offered me a lot of advice but told me to never become complacent, and to constantly double check the equipment and systems.
Will you be stopping anywhere?
No, my goal is to go non-stop.
Is anyone going with you or following you?
No. This is a solo trip and unassisted.
Will your parents be doing any flyovers while you are on your trip?
It’s possible they will be able to when I am sailing around Cape Horn or near Western Australia.
Why did you choose a boat like Wild Eyes?
The southern capes require a high performance boat. I expect hostile conditions and winds that are 60 knots. This requires speed and safety. Wild Eyes was designed in Australia and built to the highest standards for these types of conditions.
How do you know what the weather conditions will be on your route?
I have been working with Ken Campbell at Commanders' Weather. He specializes in detailed marine weather forecasts for racing and cruising yachts anywhere in the world.
Do you have radar and alarms?
Yes, I have a WatchMaster that I can set so I can sleep and several safety systems that will alert me if anything comes near the boat.
When will you sleep?
The first couple of days, I will be getting settled and probably getting used to sleeping every few hours for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. I know there will be times when I will stay awake all night. Hopefully, I will get to catch up on sleep during the day.
Your launch was delayed many times. What caused the delays and how did you handle them?
It was tough being delayed, but it was stuff we had to fix and couldn’t put off. I am very excited now and thankful for everyone who had made this possible.
Are you scared of being out in the middle of the ocean by yourself?
My parents would not let me go if I wasn’t scared or if I didn’t understand what I am getting myself into. You can’t sail without a healthy respect for the ocean.
Is there an emergency or rescue button on your boat?
Wild Eyes is equipped with the best equipment and communication devices. I am fully trained in how to use them.
Can you call home?
I have a satellite phone so I can call home and contact various Team Abby members for weather conditions, route specifics, or if I have equipment issues.
What will you eat and how much food are you taking?
I will be taking 6 months worth of dehydrated food by Mountain House.
How much fresh water can the boat hold and can you get more?
The boat has 2 fresh water tanks and I’ll be able to turn sea water into fresh water about every 2 weeks.
How do all of your electronics run?
The boat is equipped with solar panels on the back, batteries and an inverter.
Will you be able to take a shower?
Yes, I have a hand-held shower.
How will you keep warm?
Lots of clothing and a diesel heater!
Do you have enough fuel?
Yes, I have 60 gallons if I need it.
How do we follow your journey?
My website has a link to my blog. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and various other sites.
Is this trip a race?
No, I am not racing. I’d just be happy to make it around the world safely.
Your father has said a sailing adventure like this is 80% boredom, 15% on the edge, and 5% sheer terror. How will you be spending most of your time?
I am taking my school books with me so that will keep me busy. I don’t want to stay in high school another year so I’m motivated to get my school work done.
What are you taking with you for entertainment?
I have a lot of fun books, my iPod, a couple of cameras, and I can always fish!
Are you taking any good luck charms on your trip?
I’m taking some things that family and friends have given me to bring me good luck. I hope they work!
What will you miss the most?
Will you be offering any sailing lessons once you get back?
My family for sure, especially my little sister who I wanted to take with me but I don’t think she’d like that. I will miss people the most but it will be worth it. I’ll be doing something that I love and it will be a great adventure.
Maybe. I’ll think about it.
How have you mentally prepared?
This trip is going to be hard on the boat and extremely hard on me. I’ve talked to tons of people who have done the same thing. I know there will be some wonderful times and I know there will be times that I wish I wasn’t out there.
How much is Wild Eyes worth?
"When Abby is not on the boat, it is worth nothing. When Abby is on the boat, it is priceless!" – Laurence Sunderland, Abby’s father.
How do you wash your clothes?
I don't get to wash my clothes very often, but when I do I do it in a bucket.
Abby, do you use Sailmail?
I don't use Sailmail. Sailmail goes through the Single Side Band high frequency radio. The coverage for that system isn't very reliable in the southern ocean. I have Inmarsat through my Thrane & Thrane Sailor 250 unit. That is how I get online, write blogs, check email, and all that.
How do you carry enough water?
I have a thirty gallon water tank and a water maker so I can fill my tank whenever I need to.
What kind of cameras do you have on board?
Most of my cameras were sponsored by GoPro. They're really awesome little things and we have them set up in waterproof cases. They are also called point of view cameras because you can put them on your head or your chest and film what you are doing while you are doing it. I also have a Canon video camera (thanks to Samy's Camera) that isn't mounted for video blogs and pictures. I'm still working on figuring out my cameras but I'll try and get some pictures on the blog soon, maybe some video too!
How do you keep from falling over board?
I wear a harness whenever I'm on deck and if I were to fall off, Alan Blunt, the rigger that was working on Wild Eyes, set up a system for me to get back on board. If for some reason that didn't work I have a hand held epirb (or PLB) that I keep with me all the time when I'm outside. This was loaned to me by Dr Daniel Chen from Microwave Monolithics. His design of PLB (personal locator beacon) is used by a lot of government officials because they are so powerful and reliable.
Abby, what kind of music do you have on board?
I have 50 GB of music on my iPod, so there's a little of everything.
Who is the little girl in the picture on your control panel? (The picture is on my Facebook and will soon appear on the website for anyone who hasn't seen it yet)
She's my little sister Katherine. I was thinking of bringing her with me... but I don't think she would have liked being in my little boat for so long :)
Do you have an anchor?
Yes, I have two anchors. You never know when you might need one!
How do you keep from being bored?
Well, keeping the boat up takes a lot of time. Other than just sailing, there is usually always some sort of job for me to do. And of course, on days like today when it’s cold and rainy, it’s perfect weather for a good book and hot chocolate.
Are you out of fresh food? What are you eating?
Yes, I have been out of fresh food for quite awhile now. And no, I don't do any baking. I am eating Mountain House freeze dried food. It’s pretty good, even after eating it almost every day for one meal or another. Mountain House is definitely the best freeze dried food out there. But as with anything that you eat for weeks at a time, you get a little tired of it.
Do you have paper charts?
Yes, I mainly use my chart plotter, but in case my electronics were to go down, I have paper charts for my whole trip.
Why do you get off course?
When planning a route you have to look at all of the wind patterns. When you’re on a boat, the route between two points is not always a straight line.
How did ‘Wild Eyes’ get her name?
When we took delivery of ‘Wild Eyes’ in Rhode Island, the previous owners explained to us that when a great big wave breaks over the top of the boat and soaks you, most people recover with some pretty wild and crazy faces. ‘Wild Eyes’ is a very fitting name for an Open 40!
Due to an overwhelming amount of great questions and support for Abby, her email has temporarily been removed. We are in the process of getting them answered for you. Please stay tuned...your answers will be posted very soon!