The sailboat helmed by Abby Sunderland during her failed attempt to sail around the world has been found.
Australian authorities announced the 40-foot Wild Eyes turned up on New Year’s Eve near Kangaroo Island in the state of South Australia. Police there said a tuna-spotting plane noticed the yellow hull floating upside-down about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay on the island’s southern side.
The sloop looked about as you’d expect after eight years drifting in the Indian Ocean. Barnacles covered nearly every inch of hull around the waterline, and its underside appeared battered by sun and surf.
Sunderland made international headlines in 2010 during her ill-fated attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. At just 16 years old, she departed Marina Del Rey, Calif., in late January 2010 on a voyage that brought her past Cape Horn before requiring a stop in Cape Town, South Africa, in May.
The journey continued May 21, but less than three weeks later, Wild Eyes dismasted in high winds roughly halfway between Africa and Australia. Sunderland boarded a French fishing boat on June 12, two days after losing her mast, following a massive search effort that cost up to $300,000.
Sunderland, now 25, said seeing her boat brought back memories both good and bad. “My heart skipped a beat,” she said, according to news reports, adding that it was “neat to see it after so long.”