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Teen solo sailor rescued by ship, describes ordeal

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - A California teenager who spent three days adrift on the turbulent Indian Ocean described her ordeal as "crazy" as she started a long journey home aboard a French fishing boat that rescued her yesterday from her crippled sailboat.

Abby Sunderland was bumped and bruised but otherwise healthy, her parents said after hearing from the 16-year-old in a 20-minute phone call to their home northwest of Los Angeles.

"She sounded tired, a little bit small in her voice, but she was able to make jokes and she was looking forward to getting some sleep," her mother, Marianne Sunderland, told reporters outside the family home.

The young sailor, who set out Jan. 23 from the Los Angeles County coast aiming to be the youngest person to achieve nonstop solo circumnavigation, continued to blog after being rescued by the Ile De La Reunion yesterday more than 2,000 miles west of Australia.

Three days ago, a wave broke the mast of her boat, Wild Eyes, which also lost satellite phone communication, and she set off emergency beacons.

"Crazy is the word that really describes everything that has happened best," she wrote yesterday morning from "a great big fishing boat headed I am not exactly sure where."

She will spend more than a week traveling to Reunion Island, a French territory east of Madagascar.

She dismissed criticism that she was too young to undertake the attempt.

Her father, Laurence Sunderland, a boat builder who teaches sailing, said his daughter had thousands of miles of solo sailing experience before she set out, and he had scrutinized her skills.

He said his daughter simply "caught a bad wave."

He added, "Abigail has proven herself. She sailed around Cape Horn, the Cape of Good Hope.

"She'd endured 50 knots and 60 knots-plus of wind prior to this unfortunate circumstance."

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