Put lost yacht on KI dis­play

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - JOSEPHINE LIM

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.

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