A collision with a 63,000 tonne cargo vessel would probably put most people off sailing for life. Not for 16-year-old Jessica Watson of Australia who considers it just part of training in her attempt to be the youngest to sail around the world solo. Jessica was sailing alone from Australia’s Sunshine Coast en route to Sydney in a trial run when she was hit by the freighter. Fortunately the boat was not badly damaged, but the mast was broken necessitating a return to shore for repairs. Once the boat was fixed, Jessica returned to her vessel, the Pink Lady, and completed her five day solo run to Sydney.
There is the usual chorus of naysayers stating that Jessica is too young and inexperienced to complete such a journey, and that her parents are being irresponsible for allowing such foolhardiness.And yet, while such a journey comes with inherent risks, it is people like Jessica that inspire others to pursue their own ambitions. When I spent five years sailing the South Pacific, it seemed half the sailors out there had been inspired by reading the school book, Dove, a true story about a sixteen-year-old who sailed around the world alone.
Despite her setbacks, Jessica Watson has the courage to continue forward with her plans and is set to begin her circumnavigation later this fall (spring in Australia). She will commence her journey in Sydney and hopes to return to this point eight months later.