Sunderlands: "No Show at This Time"

The teen sailor's rescue comes amid a report a television deal was in the works

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A teenage girl who set out from Marina del Rey to become the youngest to solo circumnavigate the globe is safe on a French fishing boat in the Indian Ocean and heading back to her parents in the Southland.

    So what's next?

    On Sunday, the NY Post reported that Laurence Sunderland, the father of 16-year-old Abby Sunderland, signed a television deal for a show involving his children. The Post reported that the show would be produced by Magnetic Entertainment of Santa Monica.

    But a spokesman for the family said the family has no current plans for a reality TV show. Jeff Casher said he spoke with Laurence Sunderland on Monday morning. He said Laurence Sunderland said such a show was discussed last year when her brother Zac sailed around the world, but it never came about.

    Voyage Over, Up Next for Abby Sunderland...

    [LA] Voyage Over, Up Next for Abby Sunderland...
    There was talk of a TV show, but those plans are scuttled.

    On Monday afternoon, Laurence Sunderland addressed the media outside his home.

    "There is no show at this time, nor will there be," he said.

    Abby's mother Marianne, who is due to have a baby in two weeks, echoed her husband's comments, telling the Associated Press that reports the family signed a deal for a reality show while her daughter was at sea were untrue.

    Several Sunderland-related shows, including a reality show called "Adventures in Sunderland" and two documentaries, are mentioned on the production company's website. "Adventures in Sunderland" looks at how the young sailor's parents have encouraged her and her six siblings to become world-class adventurers, according to the company's website.

    Casher said Abby Sunderland was equipped with cameras on her voyage.

    Abby Sunderland, of Thousand Oaks, went missing Thursday when an emergency alert on her 40-foot sailboat sounded and communication was lost. Writing on her blog, Sunderland said she had only hoped for a ship to pass her by within a few weeks.

    The crew of an Australian search plane chartered by her father spotted her Friday. She was safe on the boat in the south Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles from land and some 2,000 miles east of Madagascar. On Saturday, the French fishing vessel Ile de la Reunion rescued her off the damaged boat.

    "Everyone on board has been really friendly," she wrote on her blog. "They have come a long way out of their way to help me and I am so thankful that they did."

    She's expected to reach the French possession of Reunion, an island off the African coast, in eight to 10 days, after a stop at the Kerguelen Islands, where Abby will transfer to a larger craft, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    The Sunderlands weren't sure when she will arrive home. Abby "was tired and her voice was a bit smaller," said the girl's mother.

    Although she failed in her quest, her mom said the endeavor was still a success.

    "She put the wheels in motion, and to pour yourself into that and make that happen is success," she said. "You make plans and life happens, so we talked to her about that, and how it's just part of the adventure."

    On a blog posting from the French craft, Abby wrote, "The long and short of it is, well, one long wave and one short mast (short meaning two-inch stub) ... Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best."

    She added, "I have started writing. At first I decided that I wasn't going to write a book. But then I started to think about all the good times Wild Eyes and I have had together. All that's left of the voyage of Wild Eyes are my memories, eventually they will get fuzzy and I won't remember all the details. I don't want that to happen."

    Back Home, Family Defends Decision

    The family continued to defend themselves against allegations that they shouldn't have allowed their daughter to take such a risk.

    "It wasn't a flippant decision," said Laurence Sunderland. "Abigail has been raised on the ocean all her life. She's lived over half her life on yachts. She's cruised for three years with us on our own particular boat. This is like second nature to Abigail."

    He said his daughter had been delivering yachts solo since she was 13, and that he tried to dissuade her by showing her the rough seas around Point Concepcion. He said he also kept her from pursuing her dream until she was 16 -- a few years after she first wanted to become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

    Zac, Abby's older brother who is now 18, sailed around the world alone when he was 16, becoming one of the youngest sailors to do so. He remains the youngest American solo circumnavigator.

    But the United Kingdom's Mike Perham claimed the title as the world's youngest solo circumnavigator only about month after Zac completed his voyage.

    Just last month, Australian Jessica Watson completed a solo circumnavigation, arriving home just before her 17th birthday.

    Abby set out Jan. 23 from Marina del Rey at age 16. But her quest to round the world alone and unassisted ended early when she stopped along the Mexican coast for repairs.

    She braved Cape Horn and continued on her quest circumnavigate the fierce Southern Ocean, but a failed autopilot caused her to stop in Capetown, South Africa.

    Despite the problems, Abby said she wants to complete her mission.

    "I don't know when I'll get another chance to do it, but ... I'm definitely going to do it sometime."