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The Forum > General Discussion > Should Jessica Watson go ahead?

Should Jessica Watson go ahead?

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Most readers would be aware of 16-year old Qld teenager Jessica Watson's plans to sail solo around the world in a small yacht. After her unfortunate collision with a ship on the first night of a trial run from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney, there have been calls for the State to intervene on safety grounds and prevent her from embarking on her voyage.

Ms Wilson is well-prepared, has the full support of her parents and there is apparently no legal basis for State intervention. However, a poll being conducted at the Courier-Mail website currently stands at 57% against her continuing her journey.

My view is that she is a shining example for other young Australians, and should receive every encouragement to fufil her dream. If any of my kids were so inclined, I'd support them all the way. What do others think?

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,26055888-952,00.html
Posted by CJ Morgan, Friday, 11 September 2009 11:08:22 AM
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I'm naturally inclined at the opposite end of the spectrum. Dreams are one thing, but reality is another. If things go well for her it would be a great adventure, but if things go badly, it could be a shocker of a trip.

I've been out on scientific vessels in a big 70m steel-hulled ship and I can assure people that the seas can get scary at times. I imagine an around-the-world journey in a wooden-hulled yacht would throw up some nasties. What happens if it gets dismasted by a big wind or gets holed after hitting the proverbial "sunfish" or a floating steel container. The Sydney to Hobart race every year has shown how problematic conditions can become and how experienced yachtsmen can be overcome by the conditions. And that's just off the Australian coast. What happens if she has to troubleshoot a piece of equipment, like her radio, that stops functioning in the middle of the Pacific? That's where experience counts. How much is it going to cost to shadow her with surveillance aircraft etc?

My view, on the balance of probabilities, is that she'd be better off not going.
Posted by RobP, Friday, 11 September 2009 11:51:51 AM
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Of course she should go, and good luck to her. How many of us gave up driving after a minor stack?.

I don't agree with these adventurers being saved on our coin, but as long as she's - and everyone else who does it - is insured for rescue and stuff then I have no drama with it.

She could be on drugs, but she's not and she's setting a positive example for other kids. I only wish there were more like her for other kids to emulate.
Posted by StG, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:12:56 PM
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Iím about to shout two teens a sky diving experience. I think it was Fractelles idea ages ago that I am finally seeing through. But will be my sons 18 year old girlfriendís birthday present and my horrid 17 year old daughter accompanying.

Could go horribly wrong, will just be faster than a boat if it does.

This girl, all power to her. Címon Rob, you know too much. Luckily I know nothing about sky diving accidents or stats thereof.

I'm more worried about teen parties, I'd rather my girl was on a boat alone somewhere.
Posted by The Pied Piper, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:18:59 PM
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This is getting to be a worry CJ. I agree she should go on, if she wants to.

There is nothing much to sailing a sound yacht, carefully, around the world. I could teach anyone who REALLY wanted to know, enough to do it, in a week or so.

Jessica could do with a little, & very little, coaching on safety, but she handled the result of this minor emergency very well. Jessica should have been advised not to sleep at night, on the northern NSW coast, it's just too dangerous. I am surprised she had not been advised of this, & the problem of lobster pots, & their bouys.

Her mistake was a common one, Cape moreton, & the Horn, are the most dangerous bits of her voyage. The Horn we all know about, but not Moreton.

Most people sailing south from Mooloolaba, make the same mistake. They set sail about midday, which puts them at Cape Morton around dark.

Cape Morton has the most shipping in the smallest area of any open sea part of the Oz coast. Due to the shape of the coast, & our east coast current, most ships bound to or from Sydney come in close there.

You can not expect a very large ship's crew to see a very small yacht, at sea, at night. They will be trying, but often not succeeding.

I have done that trip many times, often single handed. I slept during the day, without trouble, but I kept watch all night, every night, & it's a good thing I did.

On a number of occasions I had to take avoiding action from large ships, which seemed to be chasing me, intent on collision. They weren't of course, but a yacht, at 5 or 6 knots, takes some time to get well out of a ships general course. No they do not go straight, they wander a few degrees either side of their heading.

I hope someone, will advise her about small boat, coastal navigation techniques. Once she gets out into the real ocean, she will be much safer.
Posted by Hasbeen, Friday, 11 September 2009 12:54:25 PM
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I'm afraid I don't quite see this as the 'shining example for other young Australians' that you do, CJ.

Sure, sailing is a healthy and wholesome way for young kids to pass the time, if you've got the parents to deck you out with a boat and all that is, which of course most don't.

Using the activity as a full scale claim for fame though is another thing entirely. This venture seems to me to be playing right into the unhealthy obsession that many young kids have these days with finding fame. Sure, it's promoting the pursuit of self-reliance and physical prowess at the same time, but it's all being done with too much fanfare for my liking.

I also have some problems with the self-serving nature of the venture. I'd be much more behind it if it was raising money for a worthwhile cause. As it is, all the money and publicity that's going into pursuing the dream of one young girl could I feel be put to much better use.

I'm also surprised at the choice of the pink and white and very girlie looking yacht. It seems designed to attract attention which I'm sure it will. We can only hope it's attention of the harmless variety.

I do hope too the venture is privately insured, though I'm sure if there's a major search and rescue needed at any time, it will be a bill picked up by taxpayers somewhere along the line.

I am pleased though that the State Government has had the good sense not to ban her from continuing. That would only have created a misplaced groundswell of support.

Hasbeen

<< Jessica should have been advised not to sleep at night, on the northern NSW coast, it's just too dangerous. >>

Yes, well let's just hope she's been better advised on the myriad of other things she'll need to know.
Posted by Bronwyn, Friday, 11 September 2009 1:05:10 PM
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