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An Extraordinary Adventure Actualized via Cosmetics Product Placement... Jessica Watson is live blogging her attempt to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
March 19, 2010 7:00 PM   Subscribe

That much wind means some very big and nasty waves... We experienced a total of 4 knockdowns, the second was the most severe with the mast being pushed 180 degrees in to the water. Actually pushed isn't the right word, it would be more accurate to say that Ella's Pink Lady was picked up, thrown down a wave, then forced under a mountain of breaking water and violently turned upside down.
posted by Huplescat (40 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wanted to se video of the waves, but was sadly disappointed. Well, unless they occured somewhere in the second video (it kept crashing my plug-in).

I am torn between admiring this woman and thinking she's an idiot.

And for the record I would feel the same about a male doing this.

If this sort of thing catches on, kids will be doing it younger and younger, and then some schmuck will name his baby moses and pitch him in the ocean.

Also, pink?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:09 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her blog
posted by Huplescat at 7:10 PM on March 19, 2010


it would be more accurate to say that Ella's Pink Lady was picked up, thrown down a wave, then forced under a mountain of breaking water and violently turned upside down.

I hope Jeff is OK.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:11 PM on March 19, 2010


Thanks for this post.... I love stories about people willing to push the envelope ...good for her and I wish her the best!
posted by HuronBob at 7:38 PM on March 19, 2010


Her current blog.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:50 PM on March 19, 2010


I am torn between admiring this woman and thinking she's an idiot.

There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
- Steven Wright
posted by prinado at 7:55 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a fan of extreme sailing, but I hope no organization will be willing to record and ratify records for "youngest person to sail solo around the world." I feel this way regardless of the gender of the person competing.

This is about as wise, but less illegal than, competing to see who can drive the greatest distance along the US interstate system while drunk.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:08 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope that those that have a romantic notion of this know that the ocean kills unseasoned sailors with greater ease that it does seasoned sailors and no matter anyway. People who have never sailed have this idyllic vision of sailing, it isn't so.
I used to sail competitively on a 30 foot boat on San Francisco bay (and did a little ocean racing) and I've watched a 21 year old healthy person drowned not 100 yards from our boat and no feet from the would-be rescuers. A wave hit knocking her from a seated position into the water while sailing upwind in the Vallejo channel. A crew-member from another boat amongst the 20 boats within 40 yards (the race had just started, all just across the line) had her by her foulies but was unable to hang on. She drowned right there. Another race, the annual SF to Santa Cruz they towed a boat in to the harbor with seaweed on the top of the mast because it had capsized in a kelp bed.That boat had been rounded down and if a competitor hadn't been near people would have died. I only sailed for 5 years and that is a small sample.
Teenagers can hardly be bothered to remember to eat, never mind do homework or chores or keep your life jacket on while blogging. I hope the fates are with the young very self-possessed Jessica Watson.
posted by vapidave at 8:25 PM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was a little confused by this post. The text is a quote from her blog on the 23rd of January, where she recounts riding out a storm. The videos show her passing Cape Horn and a tour of her boat before she sets sail, respectively.
posted by procrastination at 8:27 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


She seems more competent by half than most of the adults I know, and also seems to be having a fine time out there, to judge by her blog.

Good for her!
posted by killdevil at 8:40 PM on March 19, 2010


More competent? Oh, "by her blog".
She isn't sailing a blog. She is sailing a boat.
posted by vapidave at 8:49 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every person’s life, regardless of age or gender, is his or her’s hazard.. A solo sailor circumnavigating the globe risks only him or herself.
posted by Huplescat at 8:59 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Then why this?

And would you say the same of a 4 year old about to lick the lid on a bottle of Drano?
posted by vapidave at 9:06 PM on March 19, 2010


Every person’s life, regardless of age or gender, is his or her’s hazard.. A solo sailor circumnavigating the globe risks only him or herself.

I'm fine with adults doing this, but encouraging kids in this kind of competition is not cool.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:06 PM on March 19, 2010


Nevertheless, Jessica is something like 3/4 thru her circumnavigation and, by all accounts, is OK or better.
posted by Huplescat at 9:15 PM on March 19, 2010


Please don't mistake me. I hope she does well. But what comes next? Another parent hoping to harvest sponsorship dollars via their kid being the youngest to do something. This is bullshit.
Again I ask, why this?
posted by vapidave at 9:30 PM on March 19, 2010


I'd rate the likelihood of this sailor's probabilist for survival, long-term happiness, and a productive life higher than for most of her shore-bound peers .
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:48 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why shouldn't Jessica's voyage be sponsored by all the commercial ppl? It is an extremely expensive venture. Don't all professional athletes wear logos all over their suits/shoes/cars/bodies? What is the difference?

This young woman is amazing. Her boat is fantastically prepped and she is 'tethered' to people all over the world talking her through her trek. Yes, it is crazy -- for anyone of any age -- but crazy is what something like this takes. No, I would never want any child I know doing this, but I do not judge this one for her choice (and I have no reason to believe it is anything but HER choice.)

I can't help but wonder if there would be so many vehemently negative comments here if Jessica were an adventurous young man.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:18 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


...I hope no organization will be willing to record and ratify records for "youngest person to sail solo around the world."

Apparently Poseidon has not sanctified her voyage, and rumor has it that Amphitrite is royally pissed. From the February 2, 2010 Sydney Morning Herald:
...[Jessica's spokesman Andrew] Fraser said any record Jessica set would not be formally recorded by the international sailing body, the World Sailing Speed Record Council. He said the council had a policy of not ratifying "youngest attempts" as it did not want to be seen to encourage young people to attempt dangerous journeys.

However, he said a record set by Jessica would be celebrated around the world, as Jesse Martin's was in 1999 when he set the record Jessica hopes to claim for herself.
Current listing in the World Sailing Speed Record Council's Other Kinds of Sailing Records:
Youngest non stop, singlehanded, circumnavigation — Category discontinued
The WSSRC's last recognized record holder was fellow Australian Jesse Martin, who completed his circumnavigation at age 18.
posted by cenoxo at 10:45 PM on March 19, 2010


I, of the vehement, stood 4 square against the boy sailing around the world to break an age record. This might be about gender for you. It is about age for me.
posted by vapidave at 10:48 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Her boat is fantastically prepped and she is 'tethered' to people all over the world talking her through her trek.

Virtual tethers do no good when you need to be prepared to contend with 60' waves and a southern ocean full of more icebergs than it has seen in the last thousand years. If she gets into serious trouble, rescue will be extremely difficult and dangerous. Dangerous not just for her, but for any would-be rescuers.

No, I would never want any child I know doing this, but I do not judge this one for her choice

I don't think anyone is criticizing Jessica, we are criticizing the adults and corporations that are facilitating her embarkation on this dangerous endeavor. I hope she returns to port safely, but shame on every adult who has encouraged her. Any organization who recognizes her record (if she finishes) has my contempt. [On preview, I'm happy to hear that WSSRC has refused to recognize this record attempt]

I can't help but wonder if there would be so many vehemently negative comments here if Jessica were an adventurous young man.

Consider, for a moment, the coroner's findings on the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race of 1998. There were plenty of articles after the race, criticizing middle-aged male billionaire Larry Ellison for his aggressive decision to try to (successfully) out-race the storm. Also consider my previous post about Soldini's rescue of competitor Isabelle Autissier.

Jessica isn't participating in Sydney-Hobart, but she or some future competitor will be faced with the decision to give up or sail through similar weather.

Sailing in the Southern Ocean is a very expensive game of russian roulette.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:52 PM on March 19, 2010


I wish her well, but I am with the others who don't like the whole idea of "the youngest ever" record attempts. This is the reason why.
posted by smoothvirus at 10:57 PM on March 19, 2010


"I can't help but wonder if there would be so many vehemently negative comments here if Jessica were an adventurous young man."

I don't think this is a gender thing at all with the possible exception that some places around the world are more dangerous for single women than men of any age.

Surfurrus what do you think is too young to start this voyage?
posted by Mitheral at 11:27 PM on March 19, 2010


It's one thing to place responders in jeopardy through ignorance and/or incompetence. It's something else altogether though to then automatically condemn any well-prepared and equipped adventurer for their sheer determination and will. The very concept of arbitrary age-limits being imposed on well-found ships and mariners upon the open seas by uninvolved strangers is preposterous. Ask any press-ganged powder-monkey or cabin-boy.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:39 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


BBC News, February 5, 2010 — Youngest World War II service casualty identified:
A 14-year-old boy has been confirmed as the UK's youngest known service member to have been killed in WWII.

Reginald Earnshaw was aged 14 years and 152 days when he died under enemy fire on the SS North Devon on 6 July 1941. The merchant navy cabin boy had lied about his age, claiming he was 15, so he could join the war effort.
The sea doesn't check your birth certificate before you weigh anchor.
posted by cenoxo at 12:05 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


'It's all right, really, but I lost half my mast' - Jessica Watson famously crashed into a 60,000-tonne coal tanker on the very first day of a solo trial immediately before this voyage.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:14 AM on March 20, 2010


A year or so back there was some furore in NL about a 13 yr old girl about to embark on a sailing tour around the world. Her parents agreed to this. It ended with her parents not having sole custody but having to share custody with a government agency that blocked her travel. Apparently a court overturned that decision and she'll be allowed to go around the age of 15.
posted by joost de vries at 12:39 AM on March 20, 2010


Surfurrus what do you think is too young to start this voyage? - Mitheral

I understand that adolescent brains are still in development up to age 25. In fact, adolescents are actually more at risk than younger children in that this brain development phase is marked by a distorted sense of invulnerability.

Given this, I would prefer anyone under 25 would not be allowed to drive a car, fight in a war, drink without restrictions, jump out of planes, have babies ... or any of the other life-threatening things adults can do. I doubt my opinion on this would be shared by many.

As for voyaging around the world? I can't imagine it. I know the ocean; I would never attempt any solo ocean voyage - at any age. I can only say I think people who do such a thing are of a different world than mine. I do not understand Jessica. She is something quite extraordinary ... I am transfixed - much as when I watch young airborne skateboarders.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:10 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would prefer anyone under 25 would not be allowed to drive a car, fight in a war...

If your preference became reality, most wars would not happen. Unfortunately, it won't become reality any time soon, because every military organization on the planet is well aware of, and in fact dependent on, the qualities of the under-25 mind you have noted.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:32 AM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


And as we wallop round Cape Horn
Heave away, haul away
You'll wish to God you've never been born
We're bound for South Australia
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 AM on March 20, 2010


It looks like she's gonna make it and this is kind of sad.
Sailing around the world should be a dangerous, solitary, and murderous undertaking.
But celebrity culture requires that you be seen and not die while you are showing off.
In this way it cheapens everything.
posted by eeeeeez at 7:59 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kirth Gerson, the average age of a soldier in World War II was 26 and the US drafted people as old as 35. They seemed perfectly capable of having a war.
posted by localroger at 9:47 AM on March 20, 2010


This is very sad. She is going to miss Lady Gaga's next video.
posted by srboisvert at 10:23 AM on March 20, 2010


Anyone remotely interested in this should pick up this book. One of the best reads ever for me, even the third time through it.
posted by Danf at 10:46 AM on March 20, 2010


the average age of a soldier in World War II was 26

I-I-I-In Vietnam he was nineteen
Nuh-Nuh-Nuh-Nuh nineteen, nineteen
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:33 AM on March 20, 2010


localroger: "Kirth Gerson, the average age of a soldier in World War II was 26 and the US drafted people as old as 35. They seemed perfectly capable of having a war."

Because one of the tails on the curve is cut off average age is a pretty poor statistic to use in this case. Every 35 year old needs to be paired with a couple 19 year olds to give an average around 26. A percentage by age would be more enlightening. Also is the 26 average age on enlistment, discharge, some average of the two or even something else.
posted by Mitheral at 4:58 PM on March 20, 2010


Which tail is cut off, specifically?

I'm thinking there'd be a lower limit (say, 18 to begin with, then lowering to 17 & later 16), but there'd have to be plenty of career soldiers (officers, and / or men not necessarily in frontline roles) much older than 26, raising the average.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 PM on March 20, 2010


Yes, the lower limit. While the average is 26 the distribution isn't normal.
posted by Mitheral at 7:22 PM on March 20, 2010


They seemed perfectly capable of having a war.

um ...

uh ....


... hip hip hooray?
posted by Surfurrus at 8:15 PM on March 20, 2010


If Jessica is successful, she stands to hold the "record" for only a month or two, as an American girl named Abby Sunderland is currently approaching Cape Horn after (re)starting her attempt from Cabo San Lucas earlier this year. And Abby herself will apparently hold the "record" only until Laura Dekker gets her turn. Those predicting an arms race of ever-younger kids vying for the title of "Youngest to Sail Around the World Alone" are already demonstrably correct. Such an arc has an obvious endpoint.

On the other hand, one need not be a teenager to be unprepared to sail around the world, and being a teenager is not proof that one is unprepared. I would rather live in a world where those foolish enough to attempt dreams that risk only their own lives are allowed to do so. Some of them only make examples of themselves. But others survive with truly inspiring stories. And this world would be a sadder, smaller place if we only allowed people to do things considered by authority to be safe and possible. (It would also be sadder & smaller if those dreamers were never sponsored.)

I dislike the idea of solo circumnavigation for the sake of fame - but I suspect it's a lot more than that to Jessica, who grew up living on boats and has mentioned her frustration with the age- and gender-prejudice she's experienced in the maritime world. I'm enjoying her blog, photos & videos. I may never sail around the world, but I'm glad she is doing so, and I suspect she'll go on to a more fulfilling life because of this voyage.

I'll end my inaugural MeFi comment with a not-very-brief review of solo circumnavigations in case I haven't bored you all to sleep yet: posted by richyoung at 5:12 AM on March 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


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