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In Defense of Abby Sunderland

In this July 2009, photo provided by Laurence Sunderland, Abby is shown sailing in Santa Monica Bay, in Santa Monica, Calif. Abby sought to one-up older brother Zac when she set sail in November in a quest to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.
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Recently, Abby Sunderland endeavored to cross the world on a boat, her voyage cut short, she said, due to "one long wave, and one short mast." Shipwrecked 2,000 miles off the coast of Australia, the 16-year-old Sunderland was saved by a French fishing boat who snatched her out of the Indian Ocean, delivering the young explorer to safety.Abby was reportedly in good condition, though presumably disappointed she came up short in her quest to equal what her brother did last year. She has every right to be. But for her efforts in pushing the envelope, in being a modern-day Magellan, Abby and her family was skewered in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

She was called irresponsible, her family was decried for letting a 16-year-old loose on the ocean and many complained of the resources spent to rescue a kid from her frivolous journey at sea.

I understand those critiques, but they are misguided and ultimately fail to take into account that Abby was simply carrying on human being's greatest tradition: exploration.

Humans explore. It's what we have always done and what we will always do. We left the cave to cross the Bering Strait and populate the Americas. We sailed around the world, not just to seek out a new and better place, but because it's in our DNA to search beyond the horizon. We looked up and outsmarted gravity to shuttle 252,000 miles above land. Not content, we continued to look for ways to go beyond our moon to a vast, untapped wilderness in space.