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Jessica Watson, 16, plans to leave next week on sailing voyage around the world

Jessica Watson sails her yacht Ella's Pink Lady past the Sydney Opera House during a media event earlier this week. Watson is attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone and without stopping or receiving assistance.

Jessica Watson's sojourn around the world, in a 34-foot pink sailboat, will begin as early as next week from Sydney, Australia. 

"She’s a really cute little boat and I’m so proud of her, but she’s really tough as well,” the adventurer said this week during a news conference regarding her controversial odyssey.

Jessica, 16, intends to become the youngest person to solo-circumnavigate the world in a sailboat. She will sail above New Zealand and into the Pacific and up toward the equator, then back down toward Cape Horn, which she calls "the big Everest of sailing."

If she successfully rounds the treacherous Cape passage she'll continue a southerly course back to Sydney.

But it won't be as easy as that; she will will get blasted by gargantuan waves and fierce winds and will, on many occasions, look out of place aboard her soft-hued vessel.

“I’ve got an amazing amount of equipment – we’ve got all sorts of satellite communication equipment and navigation gear and Panasonic Toughbook computers, so I’m in good company," she said.

But Jessica, although she's a skilled and experienced sailor, also suffers from seasickness. On Tuesday, after a five-day sea trial, she posted this statement on her blog: "Since I stepped off Ella’s Pink Lady yesterday afternoon my head has been spinning and I’ve been doing a bit of stumbling into things! Getting my land legs again has taken a while. I can’t image what I’m going to be like after eight months at sea, rather than five days!"

It does not require much of an imagination to conclude it'll be an adventure she'll never forget.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Jessica Watson sails her yacht Ella's Pink Lady past the Sydney Opera House during a media event earlier this week. Watson is attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone and without stopping or receiving assistance. Photo by Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

 
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Comments (15)

Poor Jessica! I get sea sickness, too, but rather than take it head on, I avoid the sea! I hope she doesn't need any autopilot repair while she is out in the middle of the ocean. Good luck, though. It will be an amazing journey!

Wow she's done it. Congrats Jessica. What an achievemnet.

Though I am against you being allowed to have undertake such a dangerous endeavour.

There is a reason why most states don't allow 16yr olds to drive, purchase alcohol, legally attend nightclubs, the list goes on.

I think we have to protect our 'children' from such dangers until they are old enough both mentally and legally to make their own descions.

I'm so glad you have made it home safely :-)

She wouldn't exactly be the ''youngest'' sailor to attempt this solo. In 1965, Robin Lee Graham was 16 years old when he started his successful voyage around the world in a 23 foot sloop named Dove. For those who doubt this Google: Robin Lee Graham. Graham initially had no high frequency radios or sophisticated technology. Just an sun fix sextant, a cassette tape recorder, a tafrail log spinner to count his daily mileage and various 35mm cameras strategically placed around his boat for photos. In the last leg of his voyage, his 23 foot sloop Dove was falling apart and was no longer sea worthy. So he financed a bigger version of Dove with a 2 way radio.

It took Graham 5 years to complete his circumnavigation. He took his time and had to wait out hurricane seasons and other foul weather patterns. I commend and admire this young lady for attempting what she is about to do. My prayers will be with her and God be with her the whole way. Now, I'm not sure what kind of technology she is equiped with in terms of radar, VHF radios etc... In 1965, when Graham started his voyage, we obviously didn't have the hi tech equipment available today. Graham was 21 years old when he completed his voyage. Watson, to be the youngest, would have to complete inside 5 years which she probably will given the over 40 year difference in sophistication and she just might do it. And also, let us not forget Kon-Tiki. (Google: Kon-Tiki)

The very best of luck to you Jessica and God be with you.

Billie and Craig,
Thanks for your responses. As you say Craig, we are all entitled to our own opinion. Before we give one though we should make ourselves as informed as we can be, looking (in this case) at both sides of an argument, and not basing our opinion merely on emotion or personal feeling.
If Jessica goes, and it seems she will, although I am opposed I pray for her safe return. She may just prove all us doubters wrong, in which case I will be amongst the first to applaud her.

Bob,

I am an Australian; I take little notice of Polls that have been conducted in newspapers - either print or online, on radio talk back shows or on television. They are rarely scientific in any way, nor are they likely to be robust enough in their methods to claim statistical significance.

You are entitled to your opinion but so too are so many others. I am not offended by your comments I just don’t agree with them.

The beauty of individual opinion is that it is individual. So here is mine.

Jessica is entitled to make choices, as human beings we all make choices from the day we are born. Yes it is wise to take advice from others who have been before you, but it is wiser to take advice from many people and then make choices that are right for you using a balance of all opinion.

There are likely to be many cruisers that are circumnavigating right now that are less mature than Jessica but many years her senior. We all probably know someone like that. Age is not necessarily a good measure of either capability or experience.

Yes Jessica had an incident, and as they say timing is everything. For Jessica the timing could not have been worse. But incidents happen all the time in all sorts of situations to all types of people. To me it is not the incident that is important, because some situations despite all best planning and experience just happen; it is how we manage the incident when it happens. The one thing I took from Jessica's incident was the way the boat came into harbour with its damaged rig neatly stowed. I thankfully I have never lost a mast, but speaking with many who have, it is not the easiest job to tidy up. The fact that Jessica did so competently whilst maintaining a level head after the incident effectively self rescuing herself from the incident, suggests a lot about maturity, seamanship and experience. To say she lacks maturity, experience, physical strength and competence to me simply does not add up.

Well Bob I did as you suggested and logged into your cruisers forum. Yes, lots of various opinions expressed. Both against and for Jessica Watson's voyage. What struck me most forcibly was, as has usually been the case, the small number of people writing the posts. Very strong repeated opinions by a vocal minority! I was also dismayed at the sheer nastiness of some of the 'anti' posts. What validity can one give to a forum that engages in criticism of Jessica's appearance such as her teeth and smile? So many of the posts from one or two authors down right spiteful! By the way, so much of the information presented as fact, is just hearsay. I rest my case!

To Steve and Billie, who have taken offence at my initial post:
Whilst I don't wish to get into a slanging match or dominate this discussion, may I suggest, instead of taking my word about the overwhelming opposition to Jessica Watson's voyage, you go to www.cruisersforum.com , click on "Search" and enter "Jessica Watson" There you will find 43 pages of discussion by experienced cruising sailors from around the world. Most are against the attempt.
If you do take the trouble to read it, which you probably wont, you will probably ignore it as cautionary advice, as Jessica, her parents and supporters have chosen to do.
By the way, are you in the US? If you were over here in Australia you would have a better grip on the situation.
Slogans like "Go Girl" are thoughtless and help no one.

Bob Meadows, I too take exception to your comments. You are one of a very vocal minority who seek by fair means and foul to drag this young woman down. A very few people seek by repeat comments in many different puplications, to creat a climate of negativity. The point is Bob that most people do not have an 'axe to grind' and don't bother to respond to media polls aimed at keeping Jess in the news; ultimate goal to sell more advertising for the papers! I am also struck by the supreme arrogance of the negative critics who reveal the depth of their ignorance of Jess and her awesome experience, physical and mental strength, skill and sheer guts and determination! Jess is not an ordinary 16 year old. She has maturity well beyond her years. I really like the polite and gracious way she brushes off the naysayers as she focuses on the task ahead. She is one amazing lady; whether she makes it right around or not, she is sure going to try!

To Steve @11.14pm:
Polls have been conducted in most Australian capital city newspapers, both print and online (I suggest you Google both newspapers and the many blogs), on radio talk back shows and television. The vote is running about 65-70% against her going.
Initially more were in favour, but as her relative immaturity and inexperience became obvious (eg, her collision with a bulk carrier), sailing experts and others have become very concerned for her safety. She should wait a couple more years, gain more experience, then go for the record as the youngest woman to solo.
Instead of becoming offended I suggest you do a little more research.
.

I take offense at "as are most Australians" in your first comment. I suspect "most Australians" wish they had the guts to attempt such an adventure and wish her well. I for one would say "go for it and good luck!".
steve

Hope her yacht doesn't end up like this one!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKusg6Jyc9Y&feature=related

heavy weather!!

You go JESSICA, my prayers are with you, you made your mine up and you (WILL DO IT). YOU take care and GOD will be with YOU. LOVE KOOLSISTA.

Jessica is young, she is leaving a girl, but she is going to make it and be a woman when she returns...Children now a days are filled with video games, focused on computers, with nothing physical in their lives...I say may the wind be in your sails and I will be praying for your safe return.
I give her so much credit for standing her ground and facing this challenge.


The writer mistakes "sea sickness" for "sea legs."

When Jessica speaks of stumbling around and trying to get her "land legs" it merely shows that her inner ear had done a fine job of adjusting to the sea.

I still remember stepping off a 37-foot sailboat after a 2-week sail from Seattle to San Diego and standing in the parking lot wondering when it would stop rocking. And that was before ordering my first beer at the San Diego Yacht Club.

- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

I am firmly against this attempt, as are most Australians.
Our concerns are her lack of maturity, experience, physical strength and competence.
She should wait till she is 18, get more solo ocean-going experience and then attempt the circumnavigation as the youngest woman to complete the course


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