As a complement to seeing Hollywood’s All is Lost (previous post), I watched Wild Eyes streaming from Netflix. This is a made-by-the-proud-father documentary about Abby Sunderland‘s attempt to be the youngest person to sail non-stop solo around the world. If your impression of 16-year-olds is that they spend most of their time texting friends, this is an inspiring story of a teenager who learned all of the systems of a 40’ oceangoing yacht and pushed it through (most of) the Southern Ocean.
Even if you don’t like sailing, the documentary is well worth it for a single scene in which the 7 existing siblings of the Sunderland family learn that their mother will soon be giving birth (at home, of course) to an 8th child. The lack of enthusiasm is all too real!
[Separately, the Wikipedia story is interesting for the story of how the Australian government, instead of using a military plane, charters an airliner from Qantas to go looking for Sunderland. (TIME reports that the cost of a USAF Boeing 757 (C-32A) is about $43,000 per hour to the taxpayers; Conklin & De Decker says that $12,000 per hour is about what an airline would spend to fly one extra hour; a source of mine at a U.S. company that charters out 757s says that the cost is about $4500 per hour not including fuel (roughly another 1000 gallons per hour times about $3/gallon at the refinery (source)).]
- my June 2009 review of the book Black Wave, a multi-person trip that goes a lot worse than Sunderland’s solo voyage