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Australia's Jessica Watson passes sea trial, will soon set sail around the world

Jessicawatson Should Jessica Watson be allowed to go? Does the 16-year-old Australian possess the sailing skills to negotiate her 34-foot boat around the world on a nonstop journey -- by herself?

Is the girl strong enough, mentally and physically, to deal with considerable hazards at sea, or the long, lonely calm stretches she's sure to face?

These are among questions being asked of the intrepid sailor who has just completed a five-day sea trial from Queensland to Sydney and will announce her departure date next week.

Watson probably will depart this month. Abby Sunderland, who turns 16 this month, hopes to begin a similar journey in November.

Abby's brother, Zac, and Britain's Mike Perham recently completed multi-stop around-the-world sailing adventures at the age of 17.

The girls -- Abby is from Thousand Oaks -- will be attempting to become the youngest ever to have sailed nonstop around the planet.

The Queensland government has suggested that Watson abandon her plans, but she'll proceed aboard Ella's Pink Lady, just as Sunderland will go if her family can raise money to buy her a boat.

Watson said she and her family "made the decision a long time ago that I was going, and the only thing left to do was prepare properly and make it safe."

I'm not sure sailing on a pink vessel is a safe choice for the Watson team, as it will announce to other mariners the presence of the fairer sex. But beyond that, she seems determined and capable, and she has the support of those who matter in her life, so who else is qualified to pass judgment?

The voyage is expected to last about 240 days. Here's hoping she makes it.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Jessica Watson arrives in Sydney aboard Ella's Pink Lady after a five-day sea trial in advance of her impending around-the-world sailing adventure. Credit: Dean Lewins / EPA

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Comments (4)

we doinq a class project on you :)

I worry about these kids. What's next -- a 12 year old or 11-year old trying to "break the records" -- ? How about we all put a ban on people traveling under the age of 18 who are alone in a boat?

I really think adventure is great; but, we are baiting younger and younger kids and their parents to do something really reckless here, with what may be tragic results someday.

I hope Jessica makes it, but I hope she is the last one to try it. The sea is very unforgiving when the tide turns against man.

There is a big problem when parents are allowing their kids to do extremely dangerous things like this at the cost of possibly their lives, but as well their educations, and any normal futures. This is terrible parenting!
With the Sunderlands now sending out their oldest daughter this is just a grab for fame and a text book example of parents trying to live through their kids.
Zac is virtually illiterate; yet instead of helping their son to learn the most important skills he'll need for success in life, they send him out on a boat. Now they're doing the same with the daughter, (a shining example of why home schooling doesn't really work). What is going on in the christian world that is making us all so desperate for fame? This is not what the bible and Jesus preached.

How about; being the youngest person to sail around the world that doesn't try to make a big deal about it.


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