"She told them she was fine, she was in good health, the vessel was not taking on water," said her father, Laurence.
Rescue was expected to come in the early hours of Saturday morning, U.S. time. A fishing boat was the vessel closest to her. Sunderland may have to stay with its crew and fish for a while until she is able to return home.
"Abby is in very good spirits," said Will Blackshaw, leader of an airborne crew from Australia that made brief radio contact with Sunderland about 2 a.m. ET. "She's obviously keen to have some assistance, but she is in very good spirits."
The rescue team's report was posted to a blog tracking Abby's attempt to become the youngest sailor to achieve a solo circumnavigation of the globe. The post included a picture of Abby's boat, Wild Eyes, with the mast broken off.
Abby, 16, was feared lost at sea Thursday. She had reported 20- to 25-foot waves and 35-knot winds before her support crew lost contact with her. During the storm, her boat nearly capsized several times, its sail touching the water. By the time was storm was over, the Wild Eyes' radar was smashed and its mast was broken off.
Australia's Fire and Emergency Services said a second, smaller plane would leave Perth early Saturday morning to conduct another sighting.
"The seas are very rough indeed, and there is a lot of wind, and she is obviously going to have a very uncomfortable night of sleep," said Blackshaw.
Click HERE to watch Abby give a tour of her boat.
Blackshaw said the plane was conducting its first pass of the area and had been searching for Abby for only 10 minutes when she was spotted, according to the blog posting.
Sunderland was attempting to become the youngest sailor ever to circumnavigate the globe.
Her mother, MaryAnne Sunderland, who is due to give birth at the end of the month, said she reminded herself throughout the ordeal that her daughter's boat was hard to sink, but "but that doesn't mean it wasn't dark, cold and frightening."
Her parents have been the target of some heavy criticism on the Internet for letting their 16-year-old daughter navigate the globe's treacherous seas on her own, but Laurence Sunderland earlier told "Good Morning America" that he had every confidence in her.
"Abigail had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was more than competent," he said.
Life is dangerous, he added.
"How many teenagers die in car accidents every year?" he said. "Should we stop them from driving a car?"
Sunderland's brother, Zac Sunderland, who himself completed a similar trip around the globe, said today his sister's "got what it takes to deal with situations like this."
"I just told her to kind of be ready for it," he said. "Some time or another you are going to have a crazy storm or something is going to break."
Abby last posted a blog entry from her boat on Wednesday night.
"It was a nice day today with some lighter winds which gave me a chance to patch everything up," she wrote. "Wild Eyes was great through everything but after a day with over 50 knots at times, I had quite a bit of work to do."