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Teenage global sailor Jessica Watson nears home as she reaches Australian waters

April 13, 2010 | 11:34 am

Jessica Watson and one of the squid, which later became part of her lunch, found on deck. Global sailor Jessica Watson passed into Australian waters this weekend, signaling a return to home seas -- a milestone she celebrated with Vegemite on crackers.

The 16-year-old Watson said it was a very special moment, with hot chocolate in hand, a light sprinkling of rain and an albatross circling above to mark the occasion.

Aside from the squid Watson continues to find on board (one of which ended up as part of her lunch Saturday), things seemed to be going smoothly in recent days, until Sunday night, when the weather turned ugly. Here's Watson's description of it from her blog:

Things got pretty interesting for a while last night, when what I thought was just a light passing squall, turned into a full on electrical storm, the worst I've seen at sea yet. Even though I could hardly see it through the icy cold sideways rain, the lightning was striking the water nearby much too close for my liking. The wind gusted pretty high too.

But the wind soon dropped again and as it did, the rain really started. It was so heavy that you could hardly see where the water stopped and the sky began. A bit of thunder has never worried me, but alone at sea at 4 in the morning, it seems particularly menacing and it becomes a lot harder to keep your nerves in check!

Watson is expected to reach Sydney, Australia, and finish her solo-circumnavigation in early May, though she still has to sail around the continent and south to Tasmania, rather than the taking a shorter path through the Bass Strait.

Some may question the longer route, but Watson explains her decision on a post Monday:

The reasoning behind this is that Bass Strait is full of shipping and islands which would mean a few days with very little or no sleep for me. Plus Bob's long range weather forecast also predicts light head winds (also known as very painful sailing) if we tack that route, instead of heading south around the bottom of Tasmania. So I'm just going to have to grit my teeth and put up with a slight drop in temperature again, before heading north for the last time.

After nearly six months at sea, more than 20,000 miles under her belt and the homestretch in sight, one can't help but wonder if the teen is excited to be near the end of her around the world adventure, but also a bit sad to see it end.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Jessica Watson and one of the squid, which later became part of her lunch, found on deck.  Credit: Jessica Watson

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