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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another unpopular opinion

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.


Persuaded said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly! Actually I think there was some dust up a year or so ago about a 13 or 14yo girl from somewhere in Europe who wanted to do this. As I remember it, one of her parents was all for it and the other was against it (they were divorced.) The court ruled that she could not sail and the child was put under the custody of the state... she was still allowed to live with her parent, but they had to get state permission for major decisions. Someone please correct me if I am wrong in any of the details.

It's just pure nonsense, in my opinion and for all the same reasons you mentioned. (Now there's a shocker;-) Ganeida, you and I agreeing on something, like that doesn't happen every day, right?)

Ganeida said...

Wow, Diane. Someone even more vehemently oppossed than I am. ☺

The other thing, Jessica has been sprooking how she wasn't asked to sail sometimes because she was a girl. Skipping over the whoe *equal opportunity* thing there is the little matter of her weight. She's a tiny little thing & sailing is all about ballast. Even the big boats have their crews hanging over the gunwale & having sailed in boats too big for my weight I can assure you weight matters! lol There are times when I wished I was the size of the Opera House

Amanda said...

Bravo Ganeida! Bravo! I agree with you 100%

I watched her sail in on Saturday... it made me sick actually, how 1000's were 'worshipping' her. I think what she has done is an amazing feat, but for what end?

My comment to my husband was, Jesus is the only true hero, and what He did was sacrifice His life for humanity, for eternal consequence... but hardly anyone in those crowds would ever give HIM the recognition He deserves. Yet, they worship this young whipper-snipper who did nothing but serve her own ambition.

It has been said she is ALL Australian's hero. Well, they can speak for themselves... she ain't my hero! I can't stomach the way we worship and idolise the sports people of this world. We are truly a nation of idolators.... and sport is our god.

My husband made a comment similiar to yours... Sailing, from the likes of Captain Cook, was far more heroic.

So sad, what society has come to value these days.

Ganeida said...

Amanda: & here I was thinking I was the only one to think such thinks. ☺ We are the most blessed among the Nations ~ & the most blase & ungrateful for that blessing. Our obsession with sport is unhealthy.

The HoJo's said...

Surely you knew I was thinking pretty much the same :o) how does that song go?
'it's all about me'!
and it shouldn't be, really, parents must be barmy to encourage her.


Birbitt said...

Well, I hadn't heard about this and I don't know how old the girl is BUT, I strongly disagree with a child doing anything of this caliber solo. It's just not safe, and not matter how well prepared we think they are, the fact remains that they are still children and they are not always able to make adult decisions, her parents are nutty in my opinion. I personally would even go so far as to call it neglect on the part of her parents to allow such a thing. So you are not the only one with an unpopular opinion.

Ruby said...

I think most parents are thinking much the same Ganeida. A great effort but irresponsible. If the outcome had been different and we'd spent millions on a search and rescue it would have been a completely different reaction, I'm sure.

Allison said...

I'm with you 100% on this and had many of the same thoughts when I read of her. A bit of competition is healthy, but so often we see it rising to the level of idolotry!

loving, laughing and learning said...

another in agreement. There are far more important dreams and achievements than sailing around the world at 16.

seekingmyLord said...

I want to thank you for this post, and I do agree with you on many points, but what spoke to me the most was those unnoticed acts of self-sacrifice. Again, I will spare your blog of going in another direction, but I just wanted you to know it was like the Lord sending a much needed message just for me.

Ganeida said...

Hojos: Of course you were! ☺ Jessica might be niave but her parents aren't & should never have allowed the media hype. That poor girl. All that way & she faced the press before she even had a decent shower!!!

Birbitt: People have called it neglect ~ especially as she collided with a tanker before she'd even begun. I am less worried by that aspect. They said she was capable, they should know, & they have been vindicated. I just happen to think these sort of things are sheer lunacy when it encourages younger & younger people to go beyond their limits. This was physically demanding ~ overshot the Heads because she fell asleep. Understandable but hardly the point.

Ruby: I will never forget the rescue teams during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart ~ or the amount of white water!!!! Run your own risks if you must but then don't risk others lives when things go wrong. They have families too.

Allison: I was seriously shocked by the crowds. It is idolotry. I thought only a few boaties would even be interested. I was sooo wrong.

LLL: Yep. Now what does she do for an encore?

Seeking: Given what's been happening round here recently, you do not surprise me. I am starting to feel like a major freak.

Sandra said...

I agree.

Jan Lyn said...

You make perfect sense to me Ganeida. Our country elevates sports and all sorts of things that our young ones and old alike do, equality is thrown out the window and things like quietly helping the poor and widows don't seem to hit the press at all.....I feel old. :)

Anonymous said...

Although I do agree with the majority of your points which are valid and well thought out, particularly as you clearly are an experienced sailor, I will say this...I truly believe Jessica initially wanted to do this for no other reason than to accomplish her own deeply personal goal. Were her parents neglectful in allowing her to go, probably yes. Does the media hype and $ now surrounding her make me sick, yes. But what about Jessica? She simply needed to do this her for her. Nothing more nor less. Like Zac Zunderland and now his sister Abbey. I really think Jessica being 16 and/or to become the youngest to sail around the world was not really what this was about, for her. Call me naive. But as a fellow sailor who loves to cruise, it's in your blood no matter how young or old. I followed her journey from beginning to end. If you watch her video blogs and get to know her through what she said and wrote you will see this was not about ego. When you love to sail this much its genetic! She just happens to be a young person who absolutely loves to sail and wanted to sail the seven seas. I'm certain when she's 50 like I am now she still will want and need to do this. Minus the media hype, I'm glad she did it and as a sailor I'm super happy for her. Congrats Jess! It is ultimately just about sailing. What really frustrates me is that 9/10ths of these frenzied people fawning over her don't even sail. We are a very very small world community.

Ganeida said...

Anon: Thank you for your comments. I would agree that Initially Jessica wanted to do this for her alone ~ an arguement that only serves to validate several of my other points. ☺ I would still maintain, however *in the blood* the sailing urge is, she could have waited till she was 18. Jessica's reasons might have been fair [& yes I've read on her blog] but the next one, & the one after, & the one after that? Unfortunately none acts to themselves alone. It bothers me enormously but I sincerely hope Jessica continues to sail for the love of it alone & that having achieved such honours so young does notdistort the rest of her life out of shape. My dad continued to cruise into his 80's & only gave it away just before he died & was no longer able to navigate the gangways.

Anonymous said...

Ganeida, per your reply to my comments above you are welcome. One last remark that may seem out of context here for some but does ring true for me: Acceptance! Through complete acceptance of what is (including what was and what will be)comes stillness and most importantly, presence. She's not 18, she was 16. The future nor the past exists. Life can only happen in the now. Jessica's knows this. Thus her humble spirit asking up to the Universe was necessarily honored. That's what I admire the most about Miss Watson!