Abby Sunderland and Lynn Vincent, Unsinkable: A Young Woman’s Courageous Battle on the High Seas (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 221 pages with a 16 page insert of color photos.
In June 2010, the world watched and listened to the news about Abby Sunderland, a sixteen year old who was attempting to sail solo around the world. In the middle of the Indian Ocean, her boat rolled over, tearing off her mast and her communication gear. The boat was equipped with beacons that sent warning signals to a satellite and soon Australia (the closet nation capable of launching a rescue effort), sent out a plane in search for Abby and her boat. Thanks to the precision of technology, they found her boat and were able to learn that she was in good shape. A French fishing vessel picked her up the next day. Abby’s disaster occurred just after another sixteen year old woman, Jessica Watson of Australia, became the youngest person ever to travel unassisted around the globe. At the time, Sunderland’s family was tried in the court-of-public-opinion as people questioned the wisdom of a family sending out their daughter on a round-the-world trip. This book is an attempt to show the support that Abby had from her family and that the trip wasn’t as reckless as one might assume. Abby had spent her life sailing. For several years, she and her family had lived on a sailboat. A year before her attempt to sail around the world, her older brother had sailed around the world. She was obviously a seasoned sailor. In addition, although she was alone on the boat, she was anything but alone in her attempt to sail around the world. Thanks to communication technology, she was in constant contact via a satellite phone and the internet, with a team that helped her through problems and to plan her course.
This book is written from two points of view (using two authors): Abby’s and a narrator. The format works quite well. I enjoyed reading of the adventure, but found myself wanting to know more, especially the day in-and-out details of sailing a boat alone. When I was a teenager, I was captivated by the experiences of Robin Graham, who sailed his small boat, “Dove” around the world. Reading about Abby’s constant contact and dependence on technology made the trip seem less challenging and also made me wonder what the point there is in trying to go around the world without stopping. Throughout the book, the authors make a point to mention the family’s “evangelical Christian” faith. Yet, other than mentioning this and noting a few prayers, little evidence is seen of their faith until Abby gets in trouble in the Indian Ocean. There, where storm after storm batters her boat, prayer comes to the forefront. I found myself questioning if the early mentions of faith had to do with the book being published by company known for their religious titles.
At the end of the book, there is a glossary of nautical terms and a nice outline of Abby’s boat, “Wild Eyes” which was helpful and made the reading more enjoyable.
It took me a few days to get my hands on this book to read because my daughter grabbed it first. At 13, she is about the age I was when I read Graham’s accounts of sailing around the world. She started reading and wouldn’t put it down. I wonder what influence this book might have on her life for I am sure that Graham’s journeys (although I’ve never done in long-distant sailing) influenced my tendency to be a bit of a vagabond. Abby’s parents should be praised for encouraging their children to reach for their goals.
If you like this type of book, you might also enjoy Gregg Granger's book Sailing Faith, which is about him and his family spending four years sailing around the world. For my review of Gregg's book, click here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255