16 Year old young lady circumnavigating alone?

At the bottom of this email are links to the website, and blog, of Jessica Watson.

Her journey, and blog, is just getting started, so it is too early to say how interesting it will be, but my suspicion is: “very.”

She’s a 16 year old young lady, setting off to circumnavigate alone, in a small 34 foot sailboat, named “Ellas’s Pink Lady.”

Her circumnavigation got off to a dicey start a few weeks back when she was struck by a freighter on a practice run.

Here’s an article about the collision, from an Austrailian newspaper:

  Watson missed cargo ship on her radar before collision
October 21, 2009


THE teenage sailor Jessica Watson failed to detect a 64,000-tonne cargo ship on her yacht’s radar and then went to sleep less than five minutes before the two collided, transport safety investigators say.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday released findings of its preliminary investigation into the September 9 incident in which the 16-year-old’s 10.4- metre sloop, Ella’s Pink Lady collided with the Hong Kong-registered carrier Silver Yang.

Ms Watson was on the first night of a journey from Mooloolaba, on the Sunshine Coast, to Sydney as a trial run before her attempt to sail around the world, which started on Sunday.

In releasing the report, the safety investigators declined to comment on whether it was wise for her to proceed with the eight-month journey, saying it was up to Ms Watson and her support crew to decide.

But before Ms Watson departed from Sydney, the safety bureau arranged a visit to the bridge watch keeper’s position on a tanker ship in order to help her understand what could be seen from that vantage point.

It also suggested she visit fatigue management experts in an effort to help her better manage her sleep patterns on the solo journey, and encouraged her to fit radar reflectors to make her craft more easily seen.

The six-page safety report says Ms Watson checked her radar before a planned sleep about 1.46am but did not detect the Silver Yang on her radar despite it being only one mile from her position.

But a crew member of the Silver Yang had spotted the Pink Lady at 1.25am, and 23 minutes later altered the ship’s direction by 10 degrees in an effort to avoid it.

Silver Yang then applied hard-to-starboard rudder to steer out of the path, but at 1.50am Pink Lady’s bow collided with Silver Yang’s port side.

Lead investigator Peter Foley said Ms Watson had used high-quality equipment, but improvements had been made ahead of her journey around the world.
”She’s got a very well equipped vessel, and the radar system, no, we’re not concerned about the adequacy,” he told reporters.

The agency said it would take up to six months to complete the report, and that it was in contact with Ms Watson’s support crew if recommendations needed to be passed on to the skipper.

The report released today will be followed by an analysis and then a determination of safety issues.

The agency emphasised it did not seek to apportion blame in the case of incidents it investigated, but instead made recommendations to improve safety. 

I must admit that I am not a supporter of this type of venture, and not because of her sex or her age. I will get slammed for this comment, but I really do not think boats should be on the ocean, under way, with no one at the helm. I do not like the whole idea of single-handers crossing oceans. She has radar which is supposed to wake her up if another boat comes within range, which I suppose makes it reasonably safe, although I think the accident would argue that it isn’t. I can’t imagine that insurance companies think this is a good idea.

Her bravery and sense of adventure is awe-inspiring, and I wish her well. That said, were it up to me, I would not think single handing a sailboat, or a solo person 16 years old circumnavigating, are very good ideas.

Jessica’s website: http://www.jessicawatson.com.au

And, her blog: http://www.youngestround.blogspot.com/

-Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci

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