Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Adventures In Blogging

Our annual camping adventure to Silver Lake on the west side of the state begins tomorrow so I have to make this quick. Then I’ll be out of cyber-touch for a few days.

Speaking of adventures, I’ve been lurking lately at a blog produced by and on behalf of Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old California teen who was sailing solo around the world until rough weather in the Indian Ocean de-masted her vessel and left her adrift. Her distress signal was relayed to an Australian search and rescue team and she later was picked up by a French fishing vessel.

Ordinarily, I avoid celebrity blogs but this one piqued my interest. A drama on the high seas, the daily struggle just to keep high tech and low tech gear functioning properly, a teenaged girls’ unique viewpoint of life and death challenges she faced just staying afloat . . . and a regular blog with pictures even! What more could you ask for?

That was unfortunately over once the real drama commenced. After her boat Wild Eyes got slammed and broken by wind and waves, her resulting high profile rescue, and a media controversy over whether Abby was too young to even attempt such a feat—the blog was pretty much discontinued. Bummer. And just as it was getting good.

I don’t have a strong opinion either way on whether she was an exploited teen put in harm’s way for the sake of publicity or whether she was an exceptionally capable, strong-willed girl who was never in any real danger.

She did have a team of experienced professionals, weathermen and the like, watching over her every move. She had the sailboat equivalent of On-Star, state of the art navigation equipment, even two auto-pilots. She was more closely supervised in the middle of the ocean than if she’d been at a slumber party.

The parents did get a lesson in dealing with the pack mentality of the media. The criticism and controversy forced them to hire a publicity agent to buffer their privacy from the journalistic hordes. The family apparently even had to edit one of their blogs in response to the glare of publicity. Travesty!

Abby’s blog response to critics originally contained part of a letter from Search and Rescue Volunteer Perth which said, “Bottom line is, don’t get sucked in by the media. I would like a clarification on your blog just letting your readers know that the Australian Government has not requested payment nor would they. Let’s not let the media portray the many groups that were involved in Abby’s rescue as a bunch of people motivated and driven by money. This is not the case. “

The blog was later changed, omitting the letter and the reference to Search and Rescue Volunteer Perth, instead simply paraphrasing what they said in somewhat kinder and gentler terms. (I hear that many Aussies were not happy that taxpayer funds were used in the rescue).

In response to critics who said Abby was sailing through the Indian Ocean at a dangerous time, Abby’s blog responded with a statement from a member of her team of meteorologists that “have been routing sailboats around the world for 30 years.” According to meteorologist Ken Campbell, “We were late crossing the Indian Ocean, but I felt Abby was fully capable. Very few people have ever forecast weather there (the southern Indian Ocean), let alone route sailboats. This storm was not unusual for that location, for that time of year and the strategy was the best there could be for that situation.”

A couple days later, all the meteorologists’ comments were deleted from the blog. Hmmmmmm. Wonder why.

Hea, though I’m by no means a celebrity, I’ve taken flak for things I’ve put up on my blog. Even this past week! I hear somebody claimed something I wrote in my last blog was “total bull.” To them I give my standard response, “That’s how I recall it.”

Sometimes it seems that the life’s adventures are not as risky as blogging about them.


Blogger Carine said...

first-enjoy your camping trip Dave. You are something great in my book for doing this at all, let alone on a yearly basis. My version of camping is that my hotel room only has a shower.

As for the teenage daredevil-I know i respect Lenore Skenazy (America's worst mom and writer of the book and website-free range kids)and agree w/ her that kids need to do more on their own-but as a mom, if either of my adult kids said "oh mom, I'm sailing around the world solo."-even w/o the right, I'd be dragging them in and committing them on the spot.

I'm sure if I put that on my blog-boy would I get flak!

Be safe and have fun!

7:25 PM  
Blogger TechnoBabe said...

Part of the fun of blogging is to get responses and comments either on our blog or elsewhere. Not all comments agree with what we say. Just like in real life. Have a great time at your annual camping trip. I look forward to hearing about it when you get back.

6:52 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

The rights of a blogger to post a story "as they recall it" should never be assailed.
After the world wide support for our own Jessica Watson, as an "Aussie taxpayer" I fully support the rescue
of Abby... with the proviso that her voyage was well planned and equipped, which it certainly was.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--Being a mom is so tough nowadays. But I'm not sure I'd trust my 16-year-old driving around the block, let alone sailing solo around the world.

Back from our camping trip. It was fun and definitely "blogworthy." So camping pix and blog coming.

TECHNOBABE--Any time I write something at all political, I can sense the negativity in some of the comments, even if they don't come right out and state a direct disagreement.

PETER--Thanks for that comment. I was wondering how some of my Australian blogging buddies would react to that story.

7:20 PM  

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