Ditched round-the-world yacht found after eight years

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An overturned boat found covered in barnacles off the coast of Australia has been identified as a yacht abandoned by a teenage sailor during an around-the-world voyage attempt more than eight years ago.

The vessel named Wild Eyes was ditched by Abby Sunderland on 10 June 2010, during an ill-fated bid to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo.

Ditched round-the-world yacht found after eight years
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Abby Sunderland, pictured weeks after her rescue in June 2010

The Californian, then aged 16, encountered rough seas during her journey and her yellow yacht capsized halfway as she captained it between the western Australian coastline and Africa.

She was rescued by a French fishing boat two days later.

Ditched round-the-world yacht found after eight years
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Wild Eyes was found overturned off Kangaroo Island. Pic: South Australia Police

Ms Sunderland said she was feeling “very emotional” after the discovery of her old boat about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay, on Kangaroo Island, by a tuna spotting plane on New Year’s Eve.

“It looked a little creepy but that’s to be expected after so long,” the 25-year-old mother-of-three told ABC Australia.

“I’d love to know what’s inside and if any of the video equipment is still there. It would be great to try and retrieve the boat but given the costs I don’t think that will happen.

“I always knew the boat was high quality and very safe so it doesn’t really surprise me that it’s still floating.”

Ditched round-the-world yacht found after eight years
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The French fishing vessel which rescued Ms Sunderland

Ms Sunderland’s father, Laurence Sunderland, told ABC Australia the family would “love to see it one last time”.

He found out about its recovery through a Facebook posting.

Ditched round-the-world yacht found after eight years
Image:
Abby Sunderland, pictured weeks after her rescue in June 2010

“It brings back the incredible rescue that was taken part in by the Australians and the French,” he said of the find.

“It’s very humbling to have this all come to the surface after such a long time.

“There would be footage that Abigail took along the way that would be in waterproof tight cases, and whether or not that would withstand the eight-and-half years that the boat has, it might just all be totally rubbish.

“Even if we went out there and dove on the boat, we’d love to see it one last time and see the state of the boat.”

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Officials said the boat will only be salvaged if it created a hazard to others or comes ashore.

It is in waters managed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which has issued a navigation warning to shipping vessels operating in the area.