Yacht turns up 9 years after teen forced to abandon it at sea

Nine years ago, a 16-year-old Californian named Abby Sunderland captured international headlines by attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. A storm hobbled her yacht, however, forcing a dramatic rescue in the Indian Ocean.

At the time, Sunderland wrote that she never expected to see her vessel, Wild Eyes, again. Now, much to her surprise, she has finally done so. A plane spotted the boat, overturned and covered in barnacles, drifting off the coast of Australia, reports the BBC.

“My heart skipped a beat,” the 25-year-old tells Australia’s ABC News. “It brought back many memories—good and not so good—but it was neat to see it after so long.”

Australian authorities took photos, but they have no plans to actually retrieve the boat. That would change only if it is deemed a hazard to other vessels.

Abby, for her part, wonders if some of the video she shot and stored in waterproof cases might have survived. She now lives in Alabama, her father tells the Australian outlet.

“She is a mother of three, soon to be four, happily married,” says Laurence Sunderland.

At the time of their daughter’s adventure, he and his wife, Marianne, took a lot of grief for allowing her to go. Abby’s older brother, Zac, had sailed around the world the previous year at age 17 and temporarily held the record as the youngest person to make such a trip.

(Read more Abby Sunderland stories.)

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