Did Child Protective Services OK Abby Sunderland's Voyage?

Did Child Protective Services OK Abby Sunderland’s voyage? That’s the claim being made by a former LA Times reporter and prominent outdoors and sports blogger, who spent time with the family before Abby set off on her attempt this past winter to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Peter Thomas wrote on his blog yesterday:

This might not have been reported but a representative from child protective services interviewed Abby for nearly two hours at her home before her Jan. 23 departure from Marina del Rey. Marianne Sunderland, Abby’s mom, told me about this a few weeks after Abby’s departure. The interview was to make sure the high school junior was not being coerced into making this voyage.

So far, it does not appear anyone has independently verified this claim and at least one other blogger, Frankie Stone at, a public relations executive who has written on the case, went on to the comments section of Thomas’s blog to cast doubt on the tale:

How do you know the statement about child protective services is true? From my research and reporting, the Sunderland parents have made numerous statements, in various settings, that have proven overblown or outright false.

Ironically, a Dutch court ruled today that a 14 year old girl is too young to make the attempt to become the youngest person to attempt to circumnavigate the globe solo. Laura Dekker, then 13, was put under a protective watch by the state last year after Dutch authorities deemed her not able to withstand the physical and emotional consequences of spending months alone on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Complicating Dekker’s case: her parents are separated and her mom does not approve of her daughter’s plan.

So, readers… what do you think? Should child welfare officials have stopped Sunderland’s voyage before it began? I think you all know what I think.

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