Back Where It All Began

The teen sailor's flight is expected to land Monday evening at LAX

Sixteen-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland is homeward bound.

Sunderland's flight back to LAX was't the homecoming she originally imagined when she set off in hopes of sailing around the world. About two weeks after her rescue at sea, Sunderland departed Sunday from the French island of Reunion, off the southeastern coast of Africa, en route to France, then on to California.

She will be in Marina del Rey Tuesday.

The American teenager's attempt to sail solo around the world ended June 10 when her mast snapped in an Indian Ocean storm, sparking an extensive international rescue mission. She had already in April given up hope of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, when she was forced to stop for repairs.

Sunderland, who said before boarding the plane that she was looking forward to seeing her family again, carried a pair of large blue gum boots given to her as a memento by French fishing boat that rescued her in a remote part of the Indian Ocean.

After her rescue, it took about two more weeks at sea to reach Reunion. Sunderland's 18-year-old brother, Zac, was there to greet her as she arrived Saturday. At age 17, Zac Sunderland briefly held the record his sister had hoped to beat.

Abby Sunderland has dismissed concerns about her young age, saying she was well-prepared for the trip, and has said all the criticism of her parents was "ungrounded."

"They've always supported me and helped me to follow my dream and think big," Sunderland said. "The criticism is from people who don't know the facts.

"I was on an adventure and you can only plan so far when you're on an adventure."

Her parents were awaiting her return at the family home in Thousand Oaks where her mother is soon to give birth to her eighth child.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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