NASA Podcasts

Teen Sailor Abby Sunderland Meets NASA Team That Saved Her Life
11.19.10
 
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Abby: This shows my route; pulled into Cabo San Lucas for repairs. Then hit the Equator, then down south to Cape Horn, across the ocean and stopped in Cape Town for more repairs. It was an unplanned stop but…

Then, that’s where I rolled. I was around 2000 miles away from any major search and rescue place, which was…

I could not have planned to be in a more remote place and have something bad happen. It was pretty bad.

I checked out up on deck and saw that my mast was completely gone, my boom was snapped in half, my engine was dead. There really wasn’t anything left for me to jury rig with. And then I went to try to find my satellite phones and both of them were wet.

I was pretty much just stranded out in the middle of the ocean and that’s kind of when I realized that I needed to set off the EPIRBs.

Daniel Ch’en: a situation like one that Abby had, without the satellite rescue system, her chances of survival were very very low.

Kathy Niles: So, that information that’s coming directly from the distress beacon to the satellites is the one key link that we have to actually find out where something is happening and hopefully, again, if the beacon is registered, tell us who that beacon belongs to.

Abby: when I rolled, I had water pouring into my boat. I was not exactly sure if anybody could get to me where I was. I was completely shocked, I was there expecting to wait weeks and the next morning a plane flew over and I was being told that a day later a boat was going to be there.

So, I mean, it’s just an example of how great the whole system is.

David Affens: the reality is that there have been over 27,000 people saved by this system, many of which were done by the GOES satellites.

Abby: having the beacon on board was a real peace of mind. Knowing that I had that as a last resort and knowing that if all my communication did go down and I was in a serious situation, that I could set that off and somebody would hear.

Overall, it was the best experience of my life. I was lucky to have the opportunity and have the people there to help me out with it.

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