Teenage Sailor Abby Sunderland Might Be Lost at Sea, Is Definitely in Trouble

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These kids! They want to do things like sail around the world by themselves -- which is very ambitious, and brave, and awesome, and, also, crazy! -- and we let them, and then they get into trouble! Like Abby Sunderland, the 16 year-old from Thousand Oaks, California who is trying to circumnavigate the world in a sailboat by herself after some other 16 year-old Australian girl did it. Who is now in trouble!

ESPN reports:

Sunderland activated two emergency beacons between 7 and 9 a.m. ET Thursday, her mother, MaryAnne, told ABCNews. An engineer on Sunderland's support team, Jeff Casher, said the beacons indicate that she is in trouble. He said that he last talked with Sunderland at about 9 a.m. ET, when she told him she had been knocked down twice because of strong winds. The wind ripped the radar off the boat, Casher said.

MaryAnne Sunderland told ABCNews that her daughter was in 20- to 25-foot waves off the coast of Madagascar. She is about 500 miles north of the Antarctic Islands.

Eek! This doesn't sound good. In fact, it sounds terrifying, and everyone should keep their fingers crossed and prayers in mind and all that for this young, ambitious lady. The danger with this situation is that in passing, it could serve as further reason for parents to keep their kids locked up. Real talk, though: If your teenagers are anything like the rest of America's Teenagers, they are probably just as, if not more, safe on a sailboat 500 miles north of the Antarctic Islands.

But, really, there will be a large outcry of punditry-screampeople who will say that teenagers shouldn't be allowed to accomplish dangerous tasks like climbing mountains or sailing around the world or flying airplanes, and that these kids' parents should be more responsible with what they let their kids do. As opposed to what I did, which likely resulted in irreparable brain damage? These parents likely aren't unaware of the risks involved, and they are letting their children try to achieve their dreams. Of course, at some point, a line could be drawn, but none of the people who will scream about this will know where that line is. So hopefully you won't listen to them, and instead you'll just hope for this girl's safe return, like any sensible, compassionate person should do.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]

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