Put lost yacht on KI display
THE abandoned yacht of a US teen’s failed solo circumnavigation should stand in memorial on Kangaroo Island – if someone can pay to salvage it – the sailor’s father says.
Laurence Sunderland wants Wild Eyes – the yacht used by his daughter Abby Sunderland as she attempted her around-the-world voyage in 2010 – to be displayed at American River.
But the operation to track down and tow the yacht, found off Kangaroo Island last month, is estimated to cost $10,000, a price Mr Sunderland said his family could not afford. Mr Sunderland said Wild Eyes had close links to Australia, where it was built, and he hoped to visit American River if the 12m yacht was salvaged.
“The idea is to secure the yacht, bring it ashore, clean it and put it there at American River on display,” he told the Sunday Mail.
His daughter was 16 when she had to be rescued from her yacht, which was smashed by a huge storm in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, on June 12, 2010.
More than 8½ years later, Wild Eyes was sighted by a tuna-spotting plane, covered in barnacles about 20km south of Vivonne Bay, off KI, on December 31 las year. Ms Sunderland, now 25 and a mother of three, told The Advertiser at the time the discovery brought back many memories and caused her heart to skip a beat.
The Sunderland family since has been making inquiries about towing the yacht back to shore and displaying a part of world sailing history at American River.
A GoFundMe page set up by a Californian business, which followed Ms Sunderland’s journey at the time, has so far raised $1200 to retrieve the yacht.
American River Volunteer Marine Radio operator Carol Miell said a charter plane and vessel would be needed for the salvage, which she described as time-consuming and costly. Ms Miell said the yacht was spotted again near Vivonne Bay on January 6 but had not been seen since, with tidal waves pushing the vessel about 50km a night.
“If we have a plane, we could look for it and get a boat out there but just diesel would cost $2500,” she said.
“Then it would have to be towed back to American River … it’s 40 miles (65km) just to Backstairs Passage and that’s a two-day job.”
Ms Miell said the State Government should retrieve the yacht, which she described as a hazard for vessels. “We can’t sink it,” she said.
“It’s built like a sandwich and stuffed full of foam and if it breaks into pieces it’ll be a bigger hazard.”
The Transport Department has previously said Wild Eyes is not a hazard but issued a warning to mariners.
A State Government spokesman encouraged anyone interested in putting Wild Eyes on permanent display at American River to come forward with a proposal.
Labor’s Mawson MP Leon Bignell said Mother Nature had served up a gift. “If the Government could put the money forward … telling the story of the young woman who tried to sail across the world, it would be a great addition to American River,” he said.
HULL OF A FIND: Wild Eyes, drifting off Kangaroo Island on January 2 and, left, sailor Abby Sunderland.