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Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

16 year old Jessica Watson is gearing up for the most dangerous part of her solo round-the-world voyage.  The teenager is heading for the world’s most deadly stretch of sea, Cape Horn, relying solely on the headsail after suffering a problem with the mainsail.  Jessica Watson’s parents have flown to South America in the hope of catching sight of her as she rounds Cape Horn.

Cape Horn is notorious for strong winds, big waves, strong currents and icebergs. But despite admitting to being a “little bit on edge” because of the strong winds and cold, the Australian teenager is in good spirits and enjoying the challenging conditions. “The cabin temp has been sitting on 4C. The wind chill outside is really quite something. Handling wet lines on deck is just downright painful, but mostly I’m staying toasty warm in all my layers,” she said.

Jessica Watson is expected to reach Cape Horn early next week. If Jessica completes the trip around the world, she will become the youngest solo yachtsman to circumnavigate the globe.

More news about Jessica Watson:
Jessica Watson Sailing for a Record?
Jessica Watson Gets a Beating Sailing to Sydney
Jessica Watson Warned to Call off Sailing Trip

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16-year-old Jessica Watson will begin her bid to become the youngest round-the-world solo sailor on Sunday, her spokesman said, defying calls to cancel the trip after she crashed on a test voyage.

Jessica Watson will sail out of Sydney Harbour in her bright pink yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady, early on Sunday after days of strong winds abated, spokesman Andrew Fraser said on Saturday.

“We were always hoping we could get her away on the weekend, and it has all fallen into place,” Fraser said.

“She’s absolutely 100 percent happy with the preparation and the boat and the conditions are looking good. Her head space is really good.”

Watson will be given a private send-off by family and friends for the well-publicised trip, but crowds of onlookers are expected to gather along the harbour as she heads for the high seas.

The teenage adventurer hit the headlines last month when she crashed into a 63,000-tonne cargo ship just hours into a dummy run after apparently dozing off, snapping her yacht’s mast and damaging its rigging and hull.

Marine safety experts said she was lucky to have stayed afloat and reported seeing childish doodles on her navigation charts, prompting calls from senior officials for her to abandon the attempt.

“There are people out there who I suppose have their doubts, and rightly so because it’s a big, scary and possibly dangerous thing, but I am not here without confidence,” Watson said later.

Watson hopes to complete the hazardous 23,000 nautical mile journey alone and unaided, bettering fellow Australian Jesse Martin who finished the feat aged 18 in 1999.

In August, Britain’s Mike Perham, 17, became the youngest person to sail round the world but rudder problems and other hitches forced him to pull into port three times.

Watson will sleep in 20-minute bursts and has had a new, powerful alarm fitted on her boat to stop any recurrences of her September accident.

Her bid follows a ruling by a Dutch court in August that 13-year-old Laura Dekkers could not embark on a solo round-the-world voyage and should be placed in the care of social services.

In February, 72-year-old Jure Sterk went missing off the Australian coast after setting sail from New Zealand in October 2007 in his yacht, Lunatic, on a bid to become the world’s oldest non-stop circumnavigator.

Jessica Watson‘s route will take her north from Sydney to the equator above New Zealand, around South America’s treacherous Cape Horn and back via the Southern Atlantic and the Cape of Good Hope.

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Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson’s Gets a Beating Sailing to Sydney

16 year old sailor Jessica Watson’s trial voyage to Sydney is giving her a taste of the massive challenge she’ll face on her bid to sail single-handed around the world solo. The young girl has battled three-metre waves on her shakedown run from Queensland’s Gold Coast to Sydney after having abandoned an earlier attempt last month when her yacht Ella’s Pink Lady collided with a cargo ship. The Australian teenager set sail, for her trial run, on her second attempt at daybreak last Thursday and expects to reach Sydney on Monday.

Jessica plans to sail around the world in a bid to become the youngest sailor to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe. Jessica Watson’s mum, Julie Watson, updated her website last night to report that her daughter had been coping with strong southerlies and a heavy swell. “Jess called in this evening to say that she has 23 knots of southerlies and has three-metre steep seas,” Ms Watson said. “She sounds good and has been busy checking her equipment and systems.” Jessica cooked her own breakfast yesterday morning then lived on sandwiches, honeycomb and apples for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, her parents remain totally committed to their daughter’s cause even after a damning Maritime Safety Queensland report into Jessica Watson’s collision with the 63,000-tonne vessel off North Stradbroke Island.

The report said Jessica had kept “irregular latitude and longitude entries” in her log, had no course plots nor a fatigue management plan. It also said she most likely “dozed off” and that she had not activated an alarm device which would have warned her of the approaching ship.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh even weighed into the debate. “This is a very high-risk venture. Frankly, it’s one that I would be reconsidering, but ultimately it’s a decision for them (the family),” she said after the report’s release.

Jessica’s spokesman Andrew Fraser says believes the tide of support has turned in her favour. Mr Fraser said yesterday the 16-year-old has been flooded with encouraging messages on her internet blog. “We’re getting 114,000 hits a day on the website and I’d say 95 per cent of the blogs and emails are messages of support. “She’s very brave and mature for a 16-year-old. With everything that’s happened, it has made her even more resilient. “She’s had 30 knot winds and two-and-a-half metre swells,” Mr Fraser said. “It’s nothing compared to what she’s going to get in the Southern Ocean but it’s a good test for the boat, the rigging and Jess’s experience.”

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Jessica Watson on her Boat

Jessica Watson on her Boat

Jessica Watson Warned to Call off Sailing Trip

Jessica Watson, the 16 year old girl aiming to break a world record as the youngest to sail solo around the world, has reportedly been advised to cancel the trip by authorities in Australia. The Courier Mail revealed an alarming report this week, assessing Jessica Watson’s skills, or lack thereof, following the collision between her yacht and a bulk carrier during her test sail. The report states the Australian teenager most probably dozed off before her vessel hit and was dragged alongside the 63,000-ton cargo ship, didn’t activate a device to warn her of a potential collision, could not plot her journey, didn’t have a fatigue management plan, and had irregular latitude and longitude entries in her log book.

Acting Premier Paul Lucas last night said Jessica Watson should abandon her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world. “I’ll be honest. On this evidence I don’t think she’s ready to do this,” Mr Lucas told the CM. “We all admire this young woman’s spirit, but sailing solo around the world is a demanding and dangerous venture. It’s not a task anyone young or old should undertake lightly.”

Jessica Watson plans to set sail on her voyage around the world in October if repairs to her sailboat Ella’s Pink Lady are completed in time.

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