Our next generation.

Here’s a great role model – and she’s 16!

Jessica Watson is a teenager.  She is hoping to break the record for the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and Jessica Watsonunassisted around the World.  Whatever modern materials and technology can do to make sailing easier, sailing solo for weeks on end is grindingly tough at any age.  She’s a wonderful example of the next generation!

Jessica Watson2

Jessica left Sydney Harbour on October 18, 2009 sailing her sloop Ella’s Pink Lady. Her course is an estimated 23,000 nautical miles requiring her to be roughly 230 days at sea.

As was said, this is no mean feat for any person. Read more about her on her website and her Blog.

Wish her luck and fair winds.

Jessica Watson3

29 thoughts on “Our next generation.

  1. Very interesting. So here we have a cute child named Jessica entering the world circus. Of course I will follow her progress. And wish her luck: she will need it.

    But let’s suppose that her boat sank and “only someone (with rather big teeth!) got to” her before rescue does [to quote “Jess” from her blog]. Will “our sponsors”, Hachette and company, feel sorry? Unlikely. The more “eyeballs” (as they put it), the better.

    As the Roman empire degenerated, to hold the People (Populus) down, the People was conditioned to react positively to panem et circences (bread and circuses). They went to the circus, and saw what happened to the heroes against the odds. Some gladiators became very famous, very rich.

    So this Jess around the world feat is a circus, of the type that holds this pathetic world together. The fate of the child fascinates. That the main participant is game does not make it less than just a bit too much of playing life and death with child-love (pedo-philia). Athletes which are too young are outlawed in the Olympics, just as making children work is outlawed by international law on children (not signed by the USA and three dictatorships). Where does pedophilia start, and business ends? In some countries (ab)use of children below 18 is punishable by law. But the law cannot be everywhere. Sometimes morality and decency should be enough.


    1. Alternatively one could see it as nothing more than a young person being very brave. I lived for 5 years on a yacht and had my fill of single-handed sailing – if you have never done it then it you haven’t a clue as to how challenging it is. If what Jessica is doing inspires just one person to reach out for something important (to them) then that is the only measure of importance.
      I see where you are coming from but on this occasion can’t be sympathetic to your ideas at all.


      1. A lot of people have done plenty of things important (to them) that civilization could have done without.
        Doing whatever is not the solution to all: it was tried before.

        And, far from saying it is not challenging, I think it is all too challenging, and made possible by the same usual corporative suspects in need of some restraint.

        I will watch, because I think it is an interesting challenge, and she is an interesting character. Although, if she came to grief, as a prosecutor (let’s imagine I were one), I would find out if there was not unlawful aiding and abetting of an innocent child, for business purpose.

        By the way, although not a sailor, I am familiar with the problem of children mountain and rock climbing. A delicate one. My rule is never to encourage them, and advise them plenty if they nevertheless persist. About half of my friends died in the mountains, over the years.

        At least they did not die for Hachette Australia…


  2. Patrice, your last reply was easier for me to assimilate than your first one (sometimes you are on the extreme edge of my verbal understanding!) so I clearly see your point.

    Interestingly, a very true friend of mine, Gloria Squires, who with her husband, Barry, I got to know while being a live-aboard in the Mediterranean commented on Facebook.

    Gloria said: “Having done a lot of deep water sailing although not solo I do not believe it is something to be attempted by a 16 year old – it is hard hard work, tiring and lonely even with two of you. I cannot begin to imagine the emotional toll it would take on a teenager and I wonder where her parents brains are! Feel very strongly about this.”

    So my instinctive response to young Jessica’s actions, as represented in the words of my Post, may be a minority view!

    p.s. hoping to get Gloria to say more in this forum.


    1. Yes, I would be pleased to hear much more from Gloria. I think jess’s parents are thinking about their pocket book.

      I have climbed enormously with teenagers through my life (they are motivated!). But I have been extremely careful to never incite them to climb. Too many deaths.

      The way I looked at it, they were going to climb anyway with some other foolish creature of their kind, so they may as well climb with me, who is more safety oriented than any climber I have ever met. This way, our deeper interests were made to help each other, in the spirit of improving life.

      Thanks for the compliment, by the way. You may be interested with my incoming essay on my site, with its new demonstration of (metalogical) incompleteness (Godel, Turing, etc.)… THAT is really at the sharp cutting edge of relentless civilization…



  3. Like Gloria, who I know, I feel very strongly about this story too. While I hope Jessica survives the journey, I think it ill-advised and I feel extremely disappointed in her parents for obviously encouraging such a circus (and make so mistake that’s what it is). I can’t not mention the fact that her yacht collided with a bulk carrier just one day into her sea trial in September!

    At 16 you are still a child, open to the suggestions and wishes of those you trust, and (of course I might be wrong) I feel many hands on Jessica’s back pushing her into something that cannot possibly be in her best interests.

    The media, who of course worship different gods, will be hoping for something sensational or tragic. As far as I’m concerned it’s the story that never should have been.


  4. Any short-handed blue water sailing is challenging and I can speak from a wealth of experience for although never single handed I have circumnavigated the world in a 35 foot ketch with my husband Barry. Sailing across oceans is a demanding business even when there are two people on-board there is a constant round of jobs to be done firstly in maintaining your boat and secondly in maintaining yourself both of which are crucial to the success and safety of your voyage. Blue water sailors need a myriad of skills which include electrical, engineering, navigation, sewing, and imaginative cooking. Meanwhile sleep deprivation is always a serious concern and even more so when there is no one to share the watches.
    However it is not just the physical demands of Jessica’s voyage that concern me but also the emotional ones. It is not easy to be at sea for weeks on end even when not alone, the constant movement of the boat, noise of the sails, the need for vigilance, the tiredness and anxiety all these take a toll on the emotions and that is when the weather is good. When it is bad you can add hunger, seasickness (even in the best of us) lethargy and fear. Nothing instils fear quite like the sight of those greybeards rushing down on you. My question is how will a 16 year old cope with all this emotionally and alone? I know older mature skilled sailor couples who have left the sea after a lot less.
    Maybe you will argue ‘she is a very mature 16 year old’. In her blog Jessica wrote, and I quote verbatim “From South Africa it’s the vastness of the Southern Ocean. Despite the next continent being Australia there is a lot of sailing to be done. Over 4,000 nautical miles (direct track) of open and often unforgiving seas. Can’t wait. ” If this is her attitude to a difficult and dangerous situation – can we really call her mature? Maybe you will say she has lots of experience. During the first 24 hours of the first leg of her journey from Mooloolaba Queensland to Sydney, Jessica went to sleep in the busy shipping lane off the East Coast of Australia and hit a bulk carrier surely this points to some deficiencies in her experience.
    Teenagers should be hanging out with their friends, going to parties and movies, shopping for clothes and iPods, they should have the tangible support of their peers and their parents, not be stuck on a small boat in the middle of the ocean alone, sleep deprived, and scared (because she will be scared). My concerns are for Jessica’s emotional as well as physical safety and while I can applaud her bravery, although I wonder does she really know what she is getting into, I deplore, as does Patricia, the attitude of the adults in her life who have encouraged and sponsored her in this undertaking.


  5. Well thanks to dear friends, Gloria and Amanda, for your comments. How much of your reaction is based on two elements, the age of 16 and the subject being a girl?

    For example, how do you react to Zac Sunderland, see http://www.zacsunderland.com/ He was 16 when he set out.

    Or to Michael Perham, 16, from England, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/beds/bucks/herts/7730929.stm

    More here on these two – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Perham

    And then there’s Seb Clover, also from England, who crossed the Atlantic solo at the age of 15. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seb_Clover

    What say you all?


  6. I don’t think I mentioned gender Paul – boy or girl is not the issue but age is and with age comes experience and maturity and these are the attributes needed to sustain one through a voyage such as this. No I don’t agree that immature youngsters should go blue water sailing as I said at this time of their life they need the TANIGBLE support of parents all of them regardless of gender. Let our children be children don’t push them into adult pursuits that all comes soon enough. If you want to discuss the girl boy ratio in terms of strength, which is the only comparison that should be made, I have a beautiful, willowy 12 year old granddaughter whose 6 year old brother could beat her in a test of strength and endurance any day. Unfortunately for the female of the species we have not yet evolved to the point where we develop muscle in the same way or the same time span as males. Make no bones about it, it takes a fair amount of strength to change a sail in a thrashing gale. Seeing as you have brought up the subject of gender however I wonder if Elle Bache would have been so keen to sponsor Jessica if she wasn’t quite so photogenic and attractive.
    I find myself agreeing again with Patrica, yes encourage them to excel in their chosen field but assist and advise and go with them. You have no idea what a precious gift a child is until you lose them.


  7. I’m not taking sides here but am just curious as to why there is more heat over Jessica’s voyage than the others that I refer to. For the time being, I’m keeping my own views private about this.


  8. Jessica could be an hermaphrodite, that would not change my opinion. I am not sexist. It’s all about age. I am not ageist either, but I believe in the notion of child. A child is an innocent human being whose main occupation ought to be to learn, safely removed from harm and pain. Thus we prepare a better world. International law forbids to make children work. When it is adults making the children work, that’s called slavery.

    As Gloria points out, Jessica is obviously very photogenic, and telegenic. It cannot have escaped the sponsors’ attention. The whole enterprise would be a bit more credible if she were really ugly. Call me suspicious. The fact she fell asleep in a busy sleeping, I mean shipping, lane is a case in point that she needs her beauty rest. Never wake a sleeping baby.

    As Gloria pointed out very cogently, Jess’ comment : “From South Africa it’s the vastness of the Southern Ocean. Despite the next continent being Australia there is a lot of sailing to be done. Over 4,000 nautical miles (direct track) of open and often unforgiving seas. Can’t wait. ” is highly immature.

    This sort of comment may sound good on a TV show, but this really real life. She “can’t wait” for “unforgiving seas”? What is she going to do, since she can’t wait? Throw herself into the sea? And why does she needs so much to be unforgiven by the “unforgiving seas”? Just asking. Maybe, following Jessica’s inspiration, I ought to find a shipping lane to put my childhood’s dreams to sleep…



    1. As I was thinking about a response, pottering around a couple of other websites, I came across this:

      Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow…
      For babies grow up,
      we’ve learned to
      our sorrow…
      So quiet down cobwebs…
      dust go to sleep…
      I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep!

      Patrice, the problem, to my mind, is the boundary. So often defining boundaries brings the issue into acute view.

      Tell me, at what age would it be ‘acceptable’ for Jessica to undertake this adventure. 17, 17 1/2, 18 1/4 ???


  9. Indeed, I should be offering thanks to you as I awoke this morning thinking that a Post needs to be written on the Blog about Rights of the Child based on what is expressed in that Convention.


  10. Yes Paul, thanks again. This is all the more important, because the USA, our ex-would be leader, has obstinately refused to sign it.

    This ethical failure goes hand in hand with saving Goldman Sachs while, and because of, sinking us all (including millions of children!)

    Ethical failures propagate like earthquakes. They are cracks through the hearts, hence the minds.



  11. Hi Jessica ,
    What a fantastic acheivement you have done I have watched your adventure from the day you announced your voyage to the world , this will bring yourself and many other Australians back to the world front in sport and self motivation to be leaders in what a person can win at if want to ,

    pitty some other young people of today do not have your will power and staminar to have a go . xxxx


  12. Wow. People sure are upset at this. I stand amazed by this young woman. You know the world is full of people standing on the sidelines carping and barking about how “one shouldn’t do this” and “one shouldn’t do that” and I mean no offense to anyone but, like, sit down and shut up, will you? This girl wanted to live life at the edge. She wanted to experience life in a way that very, very, very few people can or will. Reasonable people can disagree about how prepared she was and whether she was too young. But who the hell is anyone to stand in the way of another person’s dreams. Get a life of your own and stop complaining when other people demonstrate a level of courage and hunger for life that you yourself will never have. And by the way, she freaking made it. So there!


    1. Richard, firstly many thanks for taking the time to comment. As someone who has done a fair amount of deep-water sailing I can attest to the courage and determination that Jesse has shown. My original Post was written out of respect and admiration for her, as is very clear when you read the piece.
      P.S. love your website/Blog – want to trade Posts? 😉


  13. I would like to remind everybody that a couple thousand years ago, age 16 was that of a full mature individual.So no scandal about a teenager doing what she like the most,and may be teaching millions of spoiled teen without any idea in their mind to do something positive.Thanks Jessica


  14. I like how she thinks this young girl
    in a world where are not good examples for the young generation….this girl is a good example


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