Abby Sunderland On Board - cruising reality

    Sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland was probably relieved to finally get started on her non-stop solo circumnavigation. After all, she had been thinking about and preparing for the voyage since she was thirteen. Lately, she had endured public criticism of her dream and her parents' decision to support it. She left that on the dock when she departed Marina del Rey (California) Saturday, January 23.
    By the fifth day out she was already thinking about pulling out her schoolbooks. Winds were light or nonexistent. Mother Nature didn't give her any trouble, but her electrical system did.
    One of the lessons of cruising is that safety is far more important than a schedule. (Comfort, too, in my mind, but that's another story.) She has said all along that her attempt to sail non-stop is an attempt, not a goal she will pursue if it puts her in danger.  When Abby confronted the reality that her equipment wasn't operating properly, she made a wise decision.
    Ten days into her trip she put in to Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of Baja California, for repairs.
    My own mechanical ineptitude makes me grateful that Abby and her team know what they're doing. From her blog, the list of repairs and installations goes on: "repaired faulty plug for wind instruments at top of mast; installed loud radar alarm to warn Abby when ships or boats are close; repaired faulty GPS antenna cable on AIS system to warn other ships or boats of her position, speed, and course; interfaced AIS watchmate to AIS transponder so power could be conserved by not running raymarine chart plotter to see AIS traffic; installed loud AIS alarm to warn Abby of close AIS traffic, etc."
    In case you wonder what all this means, here's my translation:
    We fixed an electrical problem with the Wind-o-meter (Janna's term) so Abby has better information about her conditions.  Ditto the GPS link to the thingy that tells other ships where she is and how to avoid her. Added a couple of alarms that she can't sleep through -- think of motion sensor lights (except with sound) set off by traffic many miles away. Then we jiggered the whole thing so it wouldn't eat as much power from her solar panels.
    She restarted the clock on her circumnav with her February 6 departure from Cabo.
    A circumnavigation doesn't ask a cruiser to return to her starting point, only to cross her outbound track. A couple of other requirements, that she cross the equator twice and cross all lines of longitude, won't be affected by this decision.
    Abby is back at sea in rainy, squally conditions, headed for her first brush with King Neptune when she crosses the equator. She has already evidenced the pragmatism, maturity and flexibility that long-distance cruising requires.
    You're in for the duration now, Abby.
    Fair winds.