My Blog


6.11.2010 | Motivation, My Blog

Good news comes in many forms. This morning I received some good news regarding someone that I have never met, who is doing something that I have absolutely zero interest in doing.

16 year old Abby Sunderland is attempting to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat. Solo. Yesterday she was lost at sea, and presumed dead. She had been in 30 ft swells and her boat had gone over a few times (meaning the sail hit the water). Her emergency beacons were set off, radio contact was lost, and Abby was gone.

Until today. Abby was spotted by a Quantas airbus flying overhead, and they made radio contact with her. They immediately informed her parents, and with them, we as a world breathed a collective sigh of relief. Abby is going to be alright, and should be safely aboard a rescue boat within the next 24 hours.

Abby’s trip set off a firestorm of ‘you-are-horrible-parents-how-could-you-let-her-do-that?!’ type debates. It was the “She’s a strong, independent girl wanting to prove herself” team vs. the “She’s a child! Be a parent and say NO!” team. And while strangers debated what Abby should and should not do, Abby got to packing her boat and preparing herself for her journey.

I don’t know what having a drive like that is like. I envy Abby and the fact that she even thought of doing this, let alone that she is attempting it. She is an accomplished sailor, knows the risks involved with such a trip, and understands that even being as prepared as she can be, the chances of something going horribly wrong are pretty high. She isn’t a stupid girl, and I don’t believe her parents are negligent. Honestly, she’s a teenager. She’s going to do what she damn well pleases anyway, so why not support her instead of fighting her? This is NOT something you want your teenager sneaking off in the middle of the night to do just to defy you. Stealing the car to visit a boyfriend is one thing, stealing the boat to sail it around the world is something else entirely.

I don’t know if her parents were right or wrong in “letting her go”, and a large part of me doesn’t even want to debate it. I am certain that her parents didn’t jump for joy the moment Abby suggested her idea to them, and I think that I can safely assume that they may have had one or two conversations on the matter. Ya think?

I’m climbing a mountain. No… let me rephrase that – I’m hiking up a big hill. I am doing this because I believe that I can accomplish this task, and stand at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. However, I’m also realistic enough to know that I couldn’t climb Everest, or Aconcagua, Ebrus, Denali, Vinson Massif, or even Kosciuszko. …ok, maybe I could do Kosciuszko.

Anyway, when it comes to climbing Kili, I think I know the risks involved, but I believe that my lack of surety about those risks is the biggest risk there is. But I’m going to do it. If Abby Sunderland can try to circumnavigate the globe (solo!) Robyn Thomson can walk up a big hill.

Funny where we find inspiration sometimes. It’s a weird feeling to think that in a few weeks I’ll be standing on The Roof of Africa looking up to a 16 year old stranger on a wounded boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Life is good.




My motto when I was 16 (and will be the same when I am 60) is, I’d rather die living than live dying. So maybe, I’m just a bad parent….