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Jessica Watson

Updated on August 30, 2017

An Inspiration to All Teenagers

A baby face 16 year old girl, Jessica Watson, sailed into Sydney Harbour on Saturday May 15th, 2010, to receive an unbelievable welcome and a place in history. An inspiring story for teenagers who may have a dream but are reluctant to take it further.

Hundreds of vessels surrounded her tiny yacht making it difficult to pick out the Pink Lady with Ella inscribed on the sails. Waving constantly to the crowds and the media she showed her skills to all the skeptics (me included) who said she could not do it.

With some 42,000 kilometers behind her and seven months of loneliness, isolation and constant risk out of the way thousands lined the shores to see this remarkable baby face teen arrive home. But that was nothing to the welcome at Sydney Opera House where she disembarked onto a pink carpet laid out to lead the way to the official welcome through some 10,000 or more strong. They crammed the barriers and cheered as she walked between them, assisted by her father and brother, to where the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Premier of New South Wales, Christine Keneally, had waited for her.

The emotions spilled out as she took in the scene and the reality of all she has done hit home.(Photo from The Age - public source)

UPDATE January 26th 2011: Jessica was yesterday awarded the honour of being elected the Junior Australian of the Year. Congratulations Jessica. How can this young lady top her performance? And yet she will - there is no doubt in my mind. She is a truly great Australian

Jess in early sailing times
Jess in early sailing times

Solo Round The World Sailor on the Trials Ahead

The Look of Optimism

This perky young lady had taken up sailing at the age of eleven and admits that she did not like it at first. But as she persisted and learned to do it through the guidance of those at the Southport Sailing Club she mastered the art. Just when the germ of the idea to sail non stop solo around the world came into her heard is not known but somewhere back then this determined young lady began a dream.

Reluctant to tell her parents she nurtured that dream as she improved her yachting skills and joined many sailing trips to the nearby Islands off the Queensland Coast. On June 6th, 2008, she blogged of leaving Opua New Zealand (after many delays normal to sailing) on her way as part of the crew on a yacht sailing to Vanuatu. She notes how it "Felt great to finally do some sailing! Trip was another of those perfect ones, mostly sunny, good wind behind us and we made good time, 7 days! "

But the dream developed and she made contact with another spunky teen as she blogged on December 1st, 2008. "Mike Perham, sailing an Open 50, departed on his voyage only a few weeks ago and doesn't plan to stop, if all goes to plan we'll both finish our voyages at something close to the same age. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with such a big and possibly crazy ambition. Both Mike and Zac are great inspiration and it will be great to add a female name to the never-ending list of young male solo sailors." Jessica was then 14 years old.

Her first television interview on May 14th, 2009, was another trial in the long road ahead. She wrote that her clothes that she had "carefully picked out to wear" were then in a car "heading in the wrong direction, this mightn't sound like a big deal but when you're running on minimal sleep, nerves, sunburnt and your voice is hoarse from far too much talking things become a little more fun! And hey I'm 15 I need to worry about what I am wearing!" The strain was telling on her obviously.

Jessica Watson Interview Beforehand

Plucky Women

There have been some great pioneering women in the last couple of centuries. Madam Curie was one. She risked her life to give us Radium. Amelia Earhart was another, She gave her life in a round the world flight that ended mysteriously after she left Lae, in Papua New Guinea.

Now there is Jessie Watson who has inspired and urged many to follow in her footsteps.

But It wasn't All Smooth Sailing - The Skeptics Were Out to Get her

Sailing from Brisbane to Sydney Jess hit a cargo vessel when she fell asleep without her crash warning switched on. This is a video of her setting out and of the crash

Jess on her Yacht
Jess on her Yacht

The Real Journey Begins

Her blog entry tells of her emotional start on October 18th, 2009 She admits to the emotions that overcame her after she said goodbye to her family, She overcame it by turning her mind to "settling in" and fighting the no wind. She notes there was not the usual sea sickness which may have been due to this wind condition..

The opening remarks to her blog were positive and full of optimism. She states that she had a good night sleep and great breakfast along with a hot shower before boarding her yacht. At last taking to the water to sail around the world! she noted that leaving the harbour and crossing the start line was quite a feat due to the number of the "spectator boats, helicopters, very little wind and a swell rolling though."

Setting Off

At sea and loving it
At sea and loving it

Everyone Was Behind Her

How Could She Have so Much Pluck at Such A Young Age?

October 17th, 2009. The media loved her as they followed the pink lady out of the heads and reported on her voyage away from the coast. But it was not all smooth sailing as Jess reports in her blog.

"I didn't really have much time to take it all in as a I crossed the actual start line, but I can't describe how proud I felt motoring away from the dock with my brave family standing there, along with so many of the people who made this happen."

There was just a hunt of frustration as she battled the lack of wind and calm conditions that initially slowed her progress to what must have seemed like a crawl. "So after all the excitement of getting away, progress has been pretty slow. We're still only just over 65nm from the coast, currently doing a not very remarkable, but steady 2.5knots. It's a little frustrating but I'm not complaining. I'm just taking it one day at a time for now, giving myself a little time to settle in and waiting for a little more wind."

Photo open source

Jessie Updates Us on Her Voyage - How is she doing?

She Left Everything Behind Her

Many a parent scratched their head in horror at what this young lady was doing. The skeptics said she would never make it and there were those mean enough to hope she would'nt just to prove them right. Fortunately the majority believed in her and she had the well wishes of people from all over the world. It was the positives that kept her going.

So Much Time on Her Hands

There was a lot of sailing to cross the Pacific Ocean and Jess was headed north, past Norfolk Island, on to the Equator where she poured a bucket of water over herself in keeping with the tradition of mariners from centuries ago.

The sea was reasonably calm as she threw a line in to try to catch fish without luck. She did school work and updated her blog before eating her last orange and preparing for the ride into the southern oceans. She was already talking to a huge number of people following her journey. She noted "this has become the most watched blog in Australia and stage fright has left me a bit speechless! No just kidding it's all good. Well actually it's pretty amazing and more than a little hard for me to comprehend out here all alone. Well, physically alone."

She pondered what it would be like for others to describe to the world every tiny detail of their daily routines. It was surreal but before long she would have her hands full as the Southern Ocean is a lot different to the tropics. She described the wind bitten sea as like being inside a washing machine. It was grey, squally, with the easterly current clashing with the south-easterly winds.

Rounding Cape Horn

Would you allow a 16 year old to sail solo around the world?

If this was your child would you have let her go?

How Much Freedom Should Teenagers Have?

Should Teenagers be treated more like adults and allowed to follow their dreams?

Hello Sydney
Hello Sydney

The Arrival Home

Just look at the smile she had for Sydney

For some reason Jessica sailed past Sydney Heads in a strong southerly wind and had to then fight that wind to get back to them. This caused about a two hour delay in her arrival. But everyone waited, including the Prime Minister and Premier.

The crowds were in the tens of thousands lining the harbour and many who thought she would never do it cheered as she made her way towards the Opera House. The customs officials boarded, checked her passport and gave her the all clear. Then 2 previous lone sailors, Jessie Martin and Mark Perham, who made headlines of his own after he became the youngest person to sail around the world last year, .took control of the Pink Lady and Jessica went below to change. Overhead the name Jessica was spelled out in the clear blue sky. A ferry passed by with banners reading "welcome home Jessica" spread along its side. Boats of all type took on a pink hue as they sailed along beside her,

On a boat near her bows her mum and dad watched her arrival with pride and tears. Dad wore a pink lei and mum had a grin broader than the Harbour Bridge. With them their children stood equally proud of their sister who has now made a name for herself that will live for all time.

Sydney turned on a spectacle the like of which has only ever been seen for the Queen but this girl is a queen. A leader, an example, an inspiration and most of all she is an Australian doing what we love. She was making us proud of her and prouder still to be an Aussie. She is an inspiration to every teenager out there to get out and do something to make a difference.

Jessica's Take on Her Welcome

Hi everyone just a really quick update to let you know I'm across the line and have had the most amazing day (mega mega under exaggeration!). I ended up crossing the line a few hours late, to a totally overwhelming welcome, way way beyond anything I'd ever imagined. It would take a very long time to tell you all about it, so I'll save that for another time. Seeing everyone again and finally getting those hugs was really something special!

Do You Believe Teenagers Can Accomplish Anything?

With the right backing and given the opportunity they can

Jessie Has a Birthday

May 18th is Jessica Watson's 17th Birthday. Go to her blog and give her a party.

Better still inspire someone you know to fulfill their dreams and if that is you then what are you waiting for?

Climb Every Mountain

The musical Sound of Music was based on the theme 'Follow your Dream'. This is something Jessica has done and she is an inspiration to everyone who has a dream and wants to climb their moountains.

Still images from Dreamstime - click here

This Lens was awarded LOTD.

Cast your vote for Jessica Watson

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    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 4 years ago from U.S.A.

      Very interesting lens! I really enjoyed it!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 5 years ago

      I am almost ashamed to admit I had not heard of Jessica Watson and her achievement before reading your article. What an inspiration, indeed! We should all, young and old, have the wherewithal to reach for our dreams.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      What an amazing story. Thank you for publishing this lens.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Jessica Watson is a perspective young lady and it is entirely up to her if she make something of herself or not.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Brillant lens about a brillant brave young lady

    • profile image

      dream1983 5 years ago

      Beautiful looking lens! Squidlikes!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Congrats on the purple star for this lens. It deserves it. Blessed!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Jessa Watson really goes to show that you can never be too young to accomplish great things. What a remarkable young lady she is.

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

      One last comment. In a few days Jessica will turn 18 years old. I myself have just published a lens on the 1st anniversary of Jessica's return home to Sydney on May 15, 2010. I was reviewing her book - True Spirit - which I read and thoroughly enjoyed.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 6 years ago from Idaho

      Your no fool, great lens Happy April Fools Day Blessing to you!

    • jvsper63 profile image

      jvsper63 6 years ago

      That was a great story about Jessica. A young lady who is very brave and smart. I am glad she made it. And that she is o.k. Great lens

    • Jhangora LM profile image

      Jhangora LM 6 years ago

      Wish Jessica and her crew good luck for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race!

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 6 years ago from US

      *blessed* ;)

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 7 years ago

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Jessica's parents were encouraging her, and letting her find her dream. They didnt just let Jessica go and not hear from her for 8 months. They were on the radio to her every week and they even flew to Argentina and went to cape horn and flew around above the Pink Ella in a helicopter when she rounded the cape. Under the rules they could not touch and obviously the Pink Ella has no landing pad.

      You have to let the kids fly or you kill their dreams. That is why humanity is on this planet. To make a difference.

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 7 years ago

      I gotta add this in - Way to go Jessica. You are a very mature person for a 16 year old.

      I am also very proud that I am actually related to Jessica Watson. Jessica's parents are both Kiwis.Jessica has both Australian and NZ citizenship. Jessica's mother is my second cousin. Jessica's maternal grandmother is my fathers first cousin.

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 7 years ago

      I gotta add this in - Way to go Jessica. You are a very mature person for a 16 year old.

      I am also very proud that I am actually related to Jessica Watson. Jessica's parents are both Kiwis.Jessica has both Australian and NZ citizenship. Jessica's mother is my second cousin. Jessica's maternal grandmother is my fathers first cousin.

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 7 years ago

      She's an amazing girl but I don't think I'd let my daughter do the same thing when she grows up. I want to see my daughter whenever I can 'till she's with her loved one someday.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      Great lens, she is an amazing kid, what the he** were her parents thinking about?

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 7 years ago

      Inspiring story (interestingly, the security word for my message is: DREAMING!)

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      I think Jessica Watson is inspirational. Just revisiting to give this wonderful lens a well-deserved blessing. Have a great week.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

      Jessica Watson had the angels with her when she took off on her adventure. This is a great story with a very happy ending.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      what a lovely story about this brave kid. thanks for the nice presentation.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Jessica Watson is my hero. Glad I remembered this lens while I still have some angel dust. Blessed by a Squidoo Angel.

    • Peregrina LM profile image

      Peregrina LM 7 years ago

      Wow! What an amazing story. And you've told it beautifully.

    • myneverboredhands profile image

      myneverboredhands 7 years ago

      She is very exceptional girl! Thanks God, this adventure has a Happy Ending. Great lens, and very well presented with so many videos... I feel now like I know this girl personally... Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      the777group lm 7 years ago

      "Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, till you find your dream."

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 7 years ago

      Very inspiring and informative lens. What a great tribute to Jessica!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Me and my wife enjoyed this lens so much. It is indeed inspiring.

    • profile image

      BooJeeBeads 7 years ago

      Some parents are reluctant to let their children do "dangerous" things like this. But I always knew riding in the car to school was a risk so my kids started climbing mountains and skiing at a young age. They thank me for that childhood now.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I'm so happy that things have had a happy ending to this story of a very courageous little gal. Congratulations on LOTD! ... and thank you for the Squid Angels blessing on my Caving Pictures lens that got LOTD on Monday, its a good feeling! This is a wonderful lens.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Congrats on lens of the day. We were at her homecoming in Mooloolaba (her home port) - a week or so after she came into Sydney. The energy and excitement from the town was wonderful. She is our hero.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      What an amazing story and congratulations on getting Lens of the day!

    • Shibamom LM profile image

      Shibamom LM 7 years ago

      Norma - Congratulations on your LotD, it's well deserved! This young woman is one of a kind.

    • profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Excellent lens, Norma. An inspiring young lady indeed - and so is Jessica Watson - LOL! Blessed :-)

    • profile image

      southshoretees 7 years ago

      You've done an excellent job telling this story. A well deserved LOTD!

    • AngHoo LM profile image

      AngHoo LM 7 years ago

      I watched her return live on TV and there was a huge crowd welcoming her back. A true heroin at her age. Congrats on your LOTD again Norma...

      Cheers,

      Ang

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      She is a remarkable girl. Your tribute to her is excellent, well deserved LotD.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 7 years ago

      Wow what a story. Congratulations on LOTD.

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 7 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD - great lens :)

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 7 years ago from Concord VA

      Such a brave girl! Congratulations on LotD!!

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Congratulations on a very well deserved LOTD! A wonderful lens.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Congratulations for your LOTD and your Purple Star for Jessica Watson! She's truly an inspiring teenager.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I think this young lady is courageous and mature, she should not be compared with the average 16 year old of this day and age.

    • profile image

      Marelisa 7 years ago

      I had heard of Jessica, but this lens really makes what she did come into greater focus. What a brave and determined girl! I've lensrolled you to my "Creating Your Bucket List - 100 Things to Do Before You Die" Lens. Congratulations on LOTD!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      What a great story and well-deserved LOTD.

    • one dental profile image

      one dental 7 years ago

      Great lens, thanks for sharing and congrats on lens of the day :D

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      What an amazing young woman! Incredible.

    • Momtothezoo profile image

      Eugenia S. Hunt 7 years ago

      Amazing story and girl...outstanding lens!!!!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      What a great choice for LOTD, congratulations to you, had never heard about this, and glad to read this girls story....so happy she is safely home:-) ~claudia

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! What an amazing story. I believe that kids/teenagers can do amazing things. However, I'm not sure if I would allow my daughter to do something this dangerous. I can't imagine life without her. So, I think I am too selfish and would never forgive myself if something happened to her. Blessed! http://www.squidoo.com/horseandpony-squidangel

    • modz profile image

      modz 7 years ago

      Congratulations with the lens!!! and welcome back Jessica Watson!!! :)

    • stacy mcdaniel profile image

      stacy mcdaniel 7 years ago

      Congratulations on lens of the day. Wonderful Lens! Jessica is a very brave young woman.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 7 years ago from Vermont

      Congratulations on your Purple Star and LOTD - I don't know if I could have watched my teenage daughter sail off like this, but bravo to Jessica for having the courage to tackle this journey, and to her parents for being able to let her follow this dream.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! This great lens was selected by our guest author Burgessvillian. Thanks for all your hard work!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Great lens; tough questions!

    • PRam1 profile image

      PRam1 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this story. It's really so inspiring

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      What a great story. Blessed.

    • profile image

      Joan4 7 years ago

      Great story of courage and adventure! Thank you!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is an amazing story of Jessica Watson's adventure sailing around the world at the young age of 16. Well done! This lens is featured on my charity lens, Summer Sunshine Award Nominees. Good Luck on the contest. I have nominated this lens.

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 7 years ago

      What a great story! Blessed by a squidangel

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Great job on telling the story of this amazing teenager! Jessica is a real inspiration.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow! What an adventure! To do something like this before life "gets in the way" is a really great idea. This is a super lens too! :)

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow! What an adventure! To do something like this before life "gets in the way" is a really great idea. This is a super lens too! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      She is a reincarnation!

    • Davidfstillwagon profile image

      Davidfstillwagon 7 years ago

      What a great achievement! thumbs up and fav'd it

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Jessica is an amazing teenager. How young to do such an outstanding feat. Glad to hear she is safely home, though. It would make me nervous if it was MY teenager.