Teen sailor Abby Sunderland, who today made international headlines by requesting a rescue via various distress-signal units, is in a portion of the southern Indian Ocean that is so remote it could take nearly two days for a boat or ship to reach her position.
Sunderland, 16, had been a little past the halfway point in an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.
Helicopters reportedly do not have the fuel capacity to reach her but a crew aboard an airplane from Australia hopes to arrive at the position issued via her EPIRB satellite positioning device at daybreak (she's 11 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time).
The Sunderland parents, Laurence and Marianne, had not at the time of this post gone outside to meet with reporters in front of their home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. But this afternoon they issued an update on Abby's blog.
It stated that it the EPIRB unit issuing a signal was one that has to be activated manually. Presumably this is the unit attached to her survival suit. Another signal had come from a hand-held Personal Locator Beacon, or PLB. The water-activated EPIRB unit did not activate, which might mean her 40-foot vessel, Wild Eyes, is afloat and upright.
It's not clear if Abby is on the boat, in a life raft or in the water. She is wearing a survival suit designed for emergency situations. The water temperature in the area is in the low to mid-50s, according to recent reports.
Of the aircraft en route to her position the Sunderlands stated: "They will not be able to help her other than to talk via marine radio if they are able to get close enough. Hopefully, they will be able to assess her situation and report back to us."
Earlier in the day, Zac Sunderland, who last July completed a solo-circumnavigation of the planet in a 36-fot sailboat, issued this comment to KNX radio in Los Angeles: "We're still trying to figure out the rescue situation. Right now we're trying to figure out if there is any faster way."
The Sunderlands are in touch with American, French and Australian search-and-rescue authorities.
Abby, a high-school junior who had dreamed of sailing around the world since she was 13, has a big red heart painted on the bottom of her white keel. If her 40-foot cruising sled, Wild Eyes, has capsized and she is clinging atop the hull, maybe this will make her more visible.
The Sunderland parents were part of a large prayer vigil earlier in the day.