A happy day: Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old Southern California sailor whose around-the-world solo voyage began in January and who on Thursday was missing and believed lost, has been found – safe and well – in the southern Indian Ocean.
Her yacht, "Wild Eyes," was spotted by an aerial search team aboard a Qantas Airbus A330 search plane midway between Australia and Africa. Three ships are now en route to pick her, with the first expected to reach her in 24 hours, reports the BBC.
"Wild Eyes is upright but her rigging is down," the teen's parents posted on her blog. "The weather conditions are abating. Radio communication was made and Abby reports that she is fine!"
They add: "We don't know much else right now. The French fishing vessel that was diverted to her location will be there in a little over 24 hours. Where they will take her or how long it will take we don't know."
Sunderland's family had lost contact with her for some 20 hours.
"The wind is beginning to pick up," Abby wrote in her blog from the Indian Ocean on Wednesday. "It is back up to 20 knots and I am expecting that by midnight tonight I could have 35-50 knots with gusts up to 60 so I am off to sleep before it really picks up."
By the next morning, Sunderland – who once had hoped to become the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo without stopping – was lost at sea.
On Friday, her father, Laurence Sunderland, said Abby – who was trying to break her brother Zac's solo voyage record – would not be resuming her sail once the rescue was completed, reports the AFP news agency.
"We've got our Abigail back and the quest will be over," he said. "Knowing that she's alive and well means so much more to me than any sailing record. It's just a huge, huge relief" – and Abby's mother, Marianne, repeated those same words, "huge relief," first thing Friday morning on the Today show, with Laurence and Zac sitting at her side.