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Global sailor Jessica Watson, 16, will spend the holidays alone at sea

November 24, 2009 |  9:16 pm

As millions of Americans begin to gather with their families to celebrate Thanksgiving, a lone Australian girl is in the middle of the Pacific, pointed toward treacherous Cape Horn aboard a 34-foot pink sailboat, dining on fresh fish.

JW fish Jessica Watson, 16, who is attempting to become the youngest person to sail alone around the world -- nonstop and unassisted -- is one brave soul.

She left Sydney on Oct. 18 and plans to be sailing for about seven more months. She recently rounded Christmas Island in Kiribati, above the equator, and has turned to the south and crossed the equator a second time on a course toward one of the most notorious passages on the planet.

She rounded Christmas Island in strong headwinds and currents. Bruce Arms, who is part of her support team back home, said in a post on her website that he was impressed by Jessica's sailing skills.

"The wind conditions have not been favorable for her, so it has been a very challenging few days," Arms wrote. "But we have all been so impressed with the manner in which she has gone about this rounding. She kept well clear of the island and did not take any shortcuts."

Jessica has found time to fish, and made her first catch Monday (pictured). She joked on her blog: "It's not huge but I'm sure that there will be plenty for everyone!"

It's a little sad to think of her alone at sea with the holidays approaching, but her spirits are up and her sense of humor is undiminished. Of passing the equator for the second time she wrote: "Still no sign of the big red line though, I'm starting to think that all this water must have washed it away."

Jessica is not alone in her desire to take on the world in a sailboat. Another 16-year-old, Abby Sunderland, whose older brother Zac recently gained renown for his global sailing exploits, will embark in mid-December aboard a 40-foot vessel on a planned six-month trip.

Outposts, which will monitor both journeys, expresses best wishes for both girls and hopes they inspire others to get outside and live their dreams.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Jessica Watson with the catch of the day. Credit: Jessica Watson