Anything really is possible ~ Jessica Watson.
Like the rest of Australia it seems I watched 16 yr old Jessica Watson sail through Sydney Heads on Saturday to complete her solo round~the~world trip. I think what she did was amazing & brave & lots of other adjectives but....I also think it was incredibly stupid, irresponsible of her parents & thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach.
Why? Well I'm an old sailor. I could just about sail before I could walk. I've sailed dinghies & cats & Cherubs & Moths. I've sailed large mono hulls. I've been the trapeze man & the skipper. I know what it is to pull down rigging in a blow. I've been in boats as they've cartwheeled & flipped. Indeed my whole family are old salts & even now my brother & his family are holed up in Munda waiting on a weather window to the Louisiades & then a second window to bring them home to Cairns. More than most, including our idiot media, I have some idea of what sailing solo round the world entails &, no. It should never have been allowed. Not because Jessica isn't capable; clearly she is, but I seriously object to these sort of competitions. Sooner or later someone younger is going to want to break her record [I believe even now there is an American girl attempting it] & that someone may not be as competent, well prepared & just plain lucky. Sooner or later someone will die. There are enough adults out there having to be pulled from the sea at great expense & the risk of other people's lives chasing a dream.
Jessica is lucky ~ seriously lucky. A smidgeen of luck the other way & she would not be here to bask in triumphant glory ~ & everyone would be singing a different tune! She faced the sort of seas that devestated the 1998 Sydney to Hobart fleet ~ & claimed 6 lives. However good the boat, however competent a sailor, however well prepared Jessica thought she was she is still only here by the grace of God. The next youngester out there may not be so blessed.
The ocean would still be there when she was 18, legally an adult & entitled to run her own risks. It would still be a wonderful & amazing achievement. She would still be part of that small, elite club who have sailed single~handedly & unassisted around the world ~ though that is questionable in my book when she had so much satellite coverage & help. Just my think. In reality this was a self~indulgent trip, something Jessica wanted to do that benefited nobody. I have far more admiration for the men who first sailed these seas, making the maps as they went, & even thinking that if the world was really flat they'd sail off the edge. Now that's really brave.
What's more, there are plenty of wonderful teens around doing far more laudable things minus the media hype & pay package. There are teens in all sorts of places all over the world working with orphans, the starving, the destitute. One young lad has changed the face of Africa forever, one well at a time! That is truly commendable! Mother Theresa ~ who believed God had deserted her yet took His love to the unlovable ~that is commendable.
We have indeed become a shallow people when we elevate the Jessicas of the world & ignore those who choose to work in obscurity for the betterment of their fellow men. As a nation we're rather known for making national heros of our sporting elite but amazing & wonderful as Jessica's trip is, it just doesn't rate, not for me. It will be forgotten in a month or two when the media has something else to fuss about but the poor & hungry will still be there & there will still be people quietly doing whatever they can to fix that. Lots of them will be teens & no~one is lauding them but in my book they are the real heros. It would be a better world all round if there were more of them & fewer Jessicas. Not that I expect anyone to agree with me, especially Jessica fans, but there you have it; I am full of unpopular opinions. Image from Photobucket.