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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
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
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
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."
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?
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.