Teen girls sail wrap-up: Abby Sunderland sets sail from Cape Town; and Laura Dekkers new boat

Posted: May 21, 2010 04:25 pm EDT

In the early morning African sun of May 21 16-year old Abby left Cape Town to continue her sail around the world. Jessica Watson celebrated her 17th birthday on land in Australia, and in The Netherlands 14-year old Laura Dekker spends as much time as possible on her new boat.

Abby Sunderland

It was a windless, warm 13°C Friday morning when Abby steered Wild Eyes graciously out of the Waterfront at Cape Town harbor. With the African sun still low on the horizon in front of her she headed towards the breakwater walls leaving the safety, comfort and maintenance work of the past 16 days behind.

Wild Eyes started moving at eight thirty this morning. Abby was eager to get out on the Ocean as the weather was still holding. The repairs were done. If she waited much longer she might got trouble weather wise with new frontal systems arriving at the Cape of Storms.

When Abby arrived in Cape Town Harbor on May 5 her father and some support team members joined her on Wild Eyes just outside the harbor. Now she was leaving, standing alone at the helm where she knows she belongs.

Outside the breakwater walls she encountered huge container ships. The sailboat and motor support yacht looked dwarfed among them. Wild Eyes sails went up and she turned towards Robben Island; the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.

With Robben Island at starboard and the majestic Table Mountain and Cape Towns new Soccer World Cup stadium at port she sailed out to the Southern Atlantic Ocean to round the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope. Thereafter Abby will be heading towards her third cape, Cape Agulhas, the most Southern point of Africa.

Abbys new auto pilots

The broken auto pilots were the main reason why Abby had to port in Cape Town. She explained about the new auto pilots in her blog, The new auto pilots are working very well and this time they are the type that can have two heads attached, one inside and one outside. It will help a lot not needing to run up and down every time I set it.

We also put the auto pilot brain boxes in a place a little easier to get to so I won't have to crawl into the depths of what has affectionately become known as hell, or should I say unaffectionately? (the small compartment in the back under the cockpit) Even if I do have to pull them apart, put them together, switch everything back and forth, re wire, or whatever problem might occur with the new two pilots, at least I will be able to see what I am doing.

Several other repairs have also been done.

I will stop again if I need

Abby added, I will stop again if I need to but I'm not racing out here. She wrote she is taking things slowly and if she can avoid bad weather, she will. Wild Eyes has been around the world before, she's been in 60 knots, she's been knocked down, she's a great boat and as safe as they get. As long as I stay on her, I'll be safe as well.

The next leg is probably going to be harder than anything I have done so far in my trip, but I am ready for it and so is Wild Eyes.

Jessica Watson

In Australia, Jessica Watson who finished her single-handed non-stop sail on May 15 after 210 days at sea, celebrated her 17th birthday on May 18.

Jessica has had a smile from ear to ear since her arrival and is in great shape, reported her home team on her website. Her sea legs have almost diminished (apart from the odd stumble), she has been having good sleeps and is eating well.

Jessica has promised to post another blog soon to talk about her life back on land.

Laura Dekker

In the Netherlands Laura Dekker got a new boat that meets the requirement for her sail. The past months she has been working hard on the boat to get her ready for her sail around the wolrd whenever the Dutch Government allows her. The new boat, also Guppy, was launched and baptized on May 4.

Lauras Hurley 800 was too small to meet the rules and regulations for her circumnavigation, she wrote on her website. I will now travel around the world with a Jeanneau Ginfizz ketch. The yacht is 38ft which is something to get used to compare with the Hurley 800 of 28ft I owned before. Another difference is that this yacht has 2 masts instead of 1. However, I have sailed a 45ft yacht before, which I liked sailing a lot. Dont forget, I was born on a 2 master as well! The width of this yacht is also enormous, her beam is 12,5ft and she has a draft of over 6ft.

Laura spends as much time possible on her boat. This week though she will be away on a school camp and wont have time for sailing, she said in her latest Dutch dispatch.

American Abby Sunderland was born on 16 October 1993 and aimed to become the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the world.

Abby left Marina Del Rey, California on January 23, 2010. After one week out on her single-handed circumnavigation mechanical problems had her heading in to Mexico. After a list of repairs was done, Abby left Cabo san Lucas in Mexico on February 6. On May 5 she stopped in Cape Town, South Africa for more repairs and set sail again on May 21.

Abbys boat Wild Eyes is an Open 40 sailboat and a Scott Hollers Jutson design built in 2001 by ASA Yachts of Australia and went around the world as BTC Velocity in the 2002-'03 Around Alone, helmed by Bermuda sailor Alan Paris. The Open 40 was specifically designed for single-handed sailing in the Southern Ocean.

Jessica Watson was born on 18 May 1993 on the Gold Coast and currently lives in Buderim Australia. On 19 October 2009 16-year old Jessica set sail on from Sydney Harbor passing the official start line of her around the world journey at Sydney Heads at 9.49 am. She sailed 210 days.

Regarding her distance covered, the online sailing publication Sail World had the great circle calculations carried out by one of Australian leading offshore navigators and crossed checked by a number of others, she has travelled 18,265 nm orthodromic distance (or 19,631 rhumb line distance), which adds up to 2,335 nm LESS than the official round the world distance, and 3,495 nm less than Jesse Martin's official Performance Certificate distance.

The input for these calculations came from Jessicas own team. The shortest orthodromic track of the vessel must be at least 21,600 nautical miles in length calculated based on a 'perfect sphere', according to the WSSRC.

Ellas Pink Lady specs according to Jessicas website:
The S&S; (Sparkman and Stephens) 34, a classic design from the famous Sparkman & Stephens, it is known firstly for its seaworthiness, toughness and track record. It is a boat capable of consistent speeds and one that Jessica can easily handle.

The S&S; 34 became famous after Jon Sanders, David Dicks and Jesse Martin used them for their history making solo circumnavigations. There is now an S&S; 34 association and hundreds of other S&S; 34 have made and are making successful circumnavigations and offshore passages.

S&S; 34s are commonly entered in the notorious Sydney to Hobart and many participate in club racing all around Australia and the world.

Both British Mike Perham and American Zac Sunderland sailed around the world assisted. They were 16 when they started their voyages. Zac turned 17 on November 29, 2008 and Mike turned 17 on March 16, 2009.

Mike stayed further out to sea, whereas Zac stayed closer to shore. Zac Sunderland departed on his yacht from Marina del Rey, California on 14 June 2008 and arrived back 13 months later on July 16, 2009. Mike Perham left from Portsmouths Gunwharf Quays on Saturday 15th November 2008 and crossed his finish line on 27 August 2009. He currently holds the record for the youngest sailor around the world, assisted.

A 14-year old Dutch girl, Laura Dekkers dream is to become the youngest to sail around the world, but it her home countrys authorities havent given her permission to go.

17-year old Ryan Langley was born on July 4, 1992. He plans a non-stop circumnavigation with a Contessa 32'. According to the website the voyage will begin by heading westward from the Olympic Peninsula through the straights of Juan de Fuca to the open Pacific.


Wild Eyes with the majestic Table Mountain and Devils Peak (right) in the background (click to enlarge image)
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
The bridge saluting Abby and Wild Eyes (click to enlarge)
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
People cheering Abby on (click to enlarge)
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
Abby concentrating on the way out of the Cape Towns V&A; Waterfront (click to enlarge)
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
Wild Eyes heading towards the breakwater walls into the morning sun (click to enlarge)
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
Wild Eyes and her support boat dwarfed between container ships (click to enlarge!)
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
Wild Eyes sails changed to a small, silver triangle on the horizon when she passed Robben Island (the bump on the horizon on the right). Click image to enlarge!
Image by ExplorersWeb.com (Africa) courtesy ExplorersWeb.com, SOURCE
Jessica Watson celebrating her 17th birthday on May 18 with balloons and pink cup cakes (click to enlarge)
courtesy Jessica Watson, SOURCE
This week 14-year old Laura Dekker wont have time for sailing as she is at a school camp (click to enlarge)
courtesy Laura Dekker, SOURCE
Laura spends as much time possible working on her new boat, also named Guppy, and painted a bright red (click to enlarge)
courtesy Laura Dekker, SOURCE