Abby's Blog

Outside a shopping mall in Amsterdam - photo copyright Bill Bennett ASC

I've moved on from Detroit and am now in Amsterdam. The past few days have been great. We are here with the IBC Convention. We have hooked up with Jannie van Wyk from South Africa. Jannie was one of the guys who helped us out tons in Cape Town. He and his wife Tracey let us stay with them the whole time and helped with just about everything else as well. Well Jannie works in the film industry and because of the big film convention going on over here he and a bunch of his guys were all here. It was great to see them. I had been so busy in Cape Town and it was nice to just go out and spend some time with everyone. They all flew back yesterday afternoon and so now we're on to museums and boat tours, all of which have been very fun.

At the IBC Conference - photo copyright Bill Bennett ASC

It's a really amazing place here. I've had a lot of fun just walking around looking at all the crooked buildings. I have been wondering what will happen, most of the buildings here lean one way or the other. What will happen in a few more years if they keep tipping?!

Photo copyright Bill Bennett ASC

Anyways, I know this is a really short blog, but there are tons of pictures and I slept in a bit this morning... gotta get going and make up for lost time!


Outside the Rijksmuseum - the Rembrandt museum - photo copyright Bill Bennett ASC

Another day, another trip. This time I am in Detroit. I've spent the past two days racing on the Lake Huron in Michigan and talking at the Port Huron Yacht Club. It has been much more fun then I was expecting it to be. As an offshore sailor, I wasn't sure what to expect racing on a lake. I had never raced before and I wasn't sure I liked the idea.

The first day was an all women's race - a race they do once a year. I sailed on Hope, a Bristol 33, a nice and very fast little boat. On board was myself, the first time skipper, Carol McMillan, and four others who had never crewed all together before. Now I have always wondered how on earth six people can all be on board such a small boat all working without tripping over each other and just making a mess out of it. I'm still not sure how, but I now know that it does work, and it works well.

When I was sailing Wild Eyes single handedly, something as simple as a tack could take a while because things can get messy when you're sailing solo and you have to be very careful. When you've got six people on board who all know what they're doing everything happens at once. It is so much fun! I do still feel a little awkward on other peoples' boats. I miss having a boat that I know backwards and forwards and I'm used to doing everything myself. While being with a a good crew is a lot of fun, it makes me miss my boat even more.

Well, we ended up coming in first place, due to having an amazing crew who all did great considering that we had never sailed all together before and it being our skipper's first time. That night I got to meet Katie Pettibone. Katie is an amazing sailor. She has done three America's Cups and it was great to meet her and talk to her a little bit about everything that she has done.

Next day came around and I was on board the boat Liberty, a Beneteau 42 - a fast boat with a great crew. They had all sailed together before and so I wasn't needed much but jumped in to help out where ever I could. Liberty came in first in the two races we did that day, and I think it's safe to say I have had a very good first experience with racing.

A few hours after getting in, it was time for me to talk. I've done press conferences and question and answer things, but this was my first real time talking. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. I have that terrible problem where when I get in front of a large crowd of people my mind goes blank. It was looking like there wasn't going to be too many people there and it was maybe five or ten minutes before starting. There were maybe a whole ten people there, so I wasn't too nervous. As that short five minutes passed, more and more people began to pile in. All of the seats filled up and then they pulled out even more chairs. Before long, the room was filled, including people standing along the back wall because there just wasn't room for more chairs. So now I was thoroughly scared and about ready to duck out the back door and make a run for it!

I didn't run though, I stayed there. It was a little hard to get started. I was shaking all over and suffering from having my mind go blank. I managed to get through the first few minutes, showed a little slide show of my trip, and introduced Charlie, who had come with me. After that, I launched into the story. I had a great audience. They all seemed happy which helped a lot. I had prepared a speech last week but instead of going with that, I decided just to wing it. I covered my whole trip, right from when I first decided I wanted to go, up until the end of the voyage of Wild Eyes.

I talked for maybe an hour and a half or so, and then answered questions and it was all over. It all went pretty well. I had been worried that I wouldn't talk long enough, but I ended up talking longer than had been planned. I was a little worried then that I had rambled on and bored everybody in the room, but everyone either really did like it or they were just super polite. Either way, I was finished and not feeling so bad about things.

This is my last day here. I'll be flying out at 7 tonight. It was a good stay here and while it does feel a little weird to be splashed in the face while sailing and not get a mouth full of salty water, I did still have a really good time with everybody here!


Sunset on the back porch in St Michaels

I have been traveling around a bit more since I last wrote. I just got back from Maryland and Washington DC. I flew out to visit my great aunt and uncle for a few days. It was a lot of fun there kayaking along the river, boating with my uncle and seeing the sights in the small local towns. I also got to meet two of my second cousins once removed and their parents.

Monoprint of the southern ocean made in my aunt's studio

I did my first little talk at the Tred Avon Yacht Club there and it went very well. I started out a little bit terrified and kind of shaky, but by the end even I was having fun! All the members of the yacht club were extremely nice and they had some pretty good questions. It was a really good place to do my first talk.

At the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford

After awhile in St Michael's, Maryland we went into Washington DC where my aunt and uncle have an apartment. It was another great time walking around there. I also got to go talk to the Georgetown University sailing team. I was surprised by what a big sailing team they had and while a lot of them haven't sailed much other then small racing boats, it was pretty fun answering all of their questions and seeing the beautiful campus.

I wish I could write a big, long blog with all the little details of my last trip, but I've got to go now. I'm leaving for Detroit tomorrow to speak at the Port Huron Yacht Club and try my hand at a little racing.

I'll try to post more photos and such from the airport.


Hey everyone,

Tons to write about. Just last week I took a trip to New York. We spent about 5 days there. It was a lot of fun. We got there pretty late the first day after a long 5 hour plane ride. I know its not all that long a ride, but I was having trouble sitting still. Of course I was supposed to be up at 4:15am ready to go to the airport... but around 4am, when my alarm went off, just hit the snooze botton and dozed back off. Beeping clocks do not have the same affect as an auto pilot alarm or the wind. I need to find an alarm that sounds like my Watch Commander or auto pilot alarm, then maybe I'll get up when it goes off!!

Anyways, I did make it to the Burbank Airport in time and even ended up having to wait around for a little while. It was an interesting airport, one I had never flown out of before. There were people sleeping all over the floor... it appeared they had spent the whole night there as I was pretty much the first person to walk in the door when they opened. After landing in New York, I took a taxi to go and drop my stuff at the hotel. There wasn't too much time after that with getting out of the airport and the traffic on our way to the hotel. We just walked around a bit, went to get some dinner and then headed back to the hotel to download all the hundreds of pictures that had been taken in our short walk and then get to sleep.

Next morning we were up early and off to see the Statue of Liberty! Turned out when we got there, there was about a three hour wait... we decided against waiting around for three hours in the awfully hot weather and reserved tickets for the next day. We moved on to what we had originally planned to do the next day.

We ended up going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a huge museum! It turned out to be way more interesting than I was expecting. We spent almost six hours walking around in there. Somehow even with my slightly short attention span, I enjoyed every hour of it. Though by the end I was good and ready to move on.

Next, we headed over to the Guggenheim Museum. It was interesting. The art there was a little bit odd, I mean, I know that there are all sorts of art and people all express themselves differently, but a video of somebody scrubing a skeleton with a sponge? Somehow I didn't see what the artist was trying to portray in that, but hey, at least the guy used soap! The building, on the other hand was amazing, a bit hard to describe so I'll just post some pictures of it. Only spent about an hour or two there and then went out and walked around Central Park for a bit. Then we hopped on a train and went to see Grand Central Station. Tired out from everything that day we headed back with loads more pictures, to get changed and go to dinner.

Day number three we went out to go see the Statue of Liberty again. This time with our reserved tickets it only took a few minutes to get through the line even though I had to go through more security than at the airport! I was pretty amazed by the size of the Statue of Liberty. This was my second time to New York, but my first time to the Statue of Liberty and it was really great to see. We then headed over to see the Twin Towers site. I was too young to remember when it happened, but it was very neat to see. Most of the day was over by then. It was quite a good day. We saw a lot and had a good time.

Day number four. We didn't really have any plan for this day yet, but it turned out to be my favorite day of the whole trip. Got started a little later than the past few days and headed over to the Museum of Modern Art. While some modern art I have a little trouble understanding, there was a lot of really cool stuff in this museum. After that we walked around in Central Park a bit and then headed over to the top of the Rock. I went there last time I was in New York, but that last trip was all a bit of a blur, so it was nice to get up there again.

The next day was also a very good day. With no real plan but that ever present need to be around marinas and if not sailing at least being able to see boats, we headed down to the marina. I was very suprised by how small the marina we saw was, but I guess there was probably more then one. While we were down looking at the America II, an older America's Cup boat, a few guys came down and after chatting for a bit and taking a picture in front of the America II with her skipper we learned that the other two guys we were talking to worked at the USMMA Sailing Foundation in NY. They were working hard on recruiting me for their sailing team at the school and offered to take me on a tour of the bay. It was a nice ride until one of the engines broke down... I swear I had nothing to do with it, though it seems to be that I am a bad luck charm around boats! We pulled up to a boat next to two tall ships that belonged to the school. I would have loved to look around, but had a plane to catch, and so, we said good bye, reassured the guys that I would check out the college online and were off to the airport.

It had been a crazy few days and I slept most of the plane ride home. I spent one day at home and then was off again. Lisa Gizara, from Gizara Arts got married on the beach at Catalina Island. Lisa has done so much for my trip and for my brother's trip as well. She started way back with the very beginings of Zac's trip and stuck with us right to the end of mine. Now after all we've been through together, she has become a very good family friend. She is an amazing photographer and many of the pictures you see of my trip and of Zac's were taken by her. It was great to be able to be there at her wedding. It was really the most beautiful spot in a bay just a little ways down from Avalon.

We spent several days at Catalina. My brother Toby and I flew over with Bill from Team Abby. Zac sailed over in Intrepid, and Dad and my sister, Jessie, sailed over with Pieter from Team Abby (and Team Zac). I would have loved to sail, but because of the New York trip, I wasn't back in time to catch a ride with any friends that were sailing over.

On the second day at Catalina, Bill and I flew out over Zac in his boat to get some air footage of him. It was a tough job, keeping the camera focused in the shaky little plane. Being zoomed right in so I could see a little detail didnt help much, and after an hour of looking through the camera lens while circling pretty sharply around Zac's boat, I wasn't feeling so good. I figure it's all good experience. Since Bill is a camera guy he has been taking me along on a few jobs and I have been learning a lot about all that lately. I am going to be helping out again on a job tomorrow, so that should be fun.

Anyways, back to Lisa and her wedding. To Lisa, we love you Lisa; thank you so much for everything you have done for me and my family!

Well, that about wraps up my blog for today. Don't have too much going on in the next couple of weeks. I'll be speaking here and there at Yacht Clubs and schools, working hard on the book, and starting up school. Since I won't be doing too much, I'll make an effort to blog a bit more.