4.40pm EST: The Qantas Airbus that has been searching for the 16-year-old adventurer has located her Open 40 Wild Eyes. The boat has been dismasted but is floating upright at 40.48 S, 74.58 E in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The search-and-rescue crew has spoken with Abby and advised her that a fishing boat from Reuunion Island should be with her by midday tomorrow (Saturday).
The teenager had originally set out from California intending to beat Jessica Watson's record for the youngest circumnavigation. However, two stops caused first by power problems and then an autopilot failure meant she was not eligible for "non-stop" but had decided to continue with her round world attempt.
Early this morning, Australian time, she activated two emergency beacons. While fears were held for her safety, her parents and other supporters were convinced she was alive because both beacons were drifting at the same rate, and a water-activated beacon had not gone off.
With Abby now safe, unfortunately attention will focus on whether authorities should prevent young solo sailors from setting out on such expeditions.
- Roger McMillan