The 16-year-old arrives on the French island of Reunion two weeks after being rescued at sea

By Johnny Dodd
June 26, 2010 06:30 PM
Credit: Laurence Sunderland/AP

Two weeks after being rescued from her storm-ravaged sailboat, 16-year-old Abby Sunderland finally arrived on the tiny French island of Reunion, where she was greeted by her older brother Zac.

“She s in good spirits,” her mother Marianne tells PEOPLE. “She s laughing, giggling and really wants to go out sailing in one of the Hobie Cats she spotted in the harbor.”

Abby s bid to circumnavigate the planet in a sailboat was cut short on June 10 when a massive storm destroyed her 40-foot-long sailboat “Wild Eyes” in a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean, nearly 2,000 miles west of Australia. The ensuing search for the intrepid teen sailor attracted worldwide attention.

Zac, who completed his own solo navigation last summer at 17, flew to Reunion earlier this week to bring his sister back to the family s home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

He arrived on the island with a backpack for his sister filled with clothes, makeup, a hairbrush and an iPod to replace the one that got destroyed by seawater during the fateful storm that crippled Abby s boat.

“I’m really disappointed that things didn’t go as planned,” Sunderland told reporters after coming to shore. “I was on an adventure. You can only plan so far.”

Sunderland left on her voyage to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the planet in a sailboat on Jan. 23 from Marina del Rey, Calif., just months after her brother Zac returned from his own trip. Abby ran into technical problems in April, forcing her to put her journey on hold while she repaired her boat.

On May 15th, a 16-year-old Australian girl set sailing record after traveling 23,000 miles in 210 days. Although Sunderland was no longer a contender for the record, she decided to push on with her odyssey in Wild Eyes and left Cape Town, South Africa on May 21.

But on June 10, Sunderland s mast snapped in a massive storm that generated 30-foot-high waves. She drifted for two days before being picked up by a French fishing boat. Several days later, she was transferred to a French fishing patrol boat and spent another ten days traveling to the tiny island of Reunion, east of Africa.

Abby is due to arrive back home late Monday night and plans to hold a press conference in Marina del Rey the following day.