As teenage sailor, Jessica Watson, makes a second attempt to embark on her 27,000 nautical mile journey around the world, it’s timely to reflect upon the way in which the she, her family and the notion of the trip has been discussed in the media and society. For, there’s no doubt, that on the water or land, since Jessica and her intentions were first touted, she’s been a walking headline.

Jessica Watson: Shouldn't the journey to adulthood be enough?

Her attempt to be the youngest solo sailor almost ended before it had begun when, on her way to Sydney to commence, she collided with a Chinese cargo ship in the early hours of the morning and limped back to port with a broken mast.

The report on the collision indicates that Jessica does not have the experience everyone initially believed, and so a once very supportive tide has begun to turn against the teenager and her family.

There have even been calls for her to abandon the journey, suggestions that were met with accusations of sexism from her mother who said that a 16 year-old-boy would not have faced the same sort of doubts.

What amazes me in this furor, and even today as she sets sail once more, is the political correctness that pervades debates and discussions about young Jessica and her proposed journey. So many people have tiptoed around the heart of the issue: that is, a very attractive, 16 year old female is about to set sail on her own, over oceans, crossing borders, cultures and encountering adventures, strangers and potential problems in equal measure. 

Her family condones and blesses her intention to voyage around the globe solo. So do many other sensible individuals who seem to find endless excuses and reasons as to why Jessica should go.

Has the world gone mad?

Not old enough to drive, drink or vote, we nonetheless endorse or do not prevent this act of sheer insanity and adult irresponsibility. This is a child we’re talking about, albeit on the cusp of womanhood and, while she may have wracked up more nautical miles than Jess Martin, at 16 she’s not equipped to deal with the emotional and psychological, never mind physical problems that a journey of such epic proportions will engender.

At one level, I’m more than aware that’s the point, but why? For glory, for fame? To get her face all over the media? Not surprising when we look at the cult of celebrity that exists today. Increasingly, young people are being fed the notion, through reality TV and the idolization of famous nobodies, that everyone has to make a name for themselves, be remembered, do something to ensure they attract attention. But at what cost?

Jessica’s already achieved all this. And yes, I know it’s great to chase your dreams and aspire to take risks and challenge your boundaries, but you should also, at her age, be doing this knowing adult safety nets are firmly in place. That’s so, when and if you fail, your parents or adult carers, can pick you up, dust you off and set you back on track. That’s so the consequences of your actions are not catastrophic, but life lessons that will hold you in good stead as you venture into adulthood.

Instead, a young girl has taken her life into her own hands before she’s an adult, and dictated to all and sundry, this is what I am going to do. And instead of stepping up to our responsibilities and setting age-appropriate limits, we encourage and congratulate her.

We may cite the precautions taken, the access to adults, wisdom and experience through technology – but these are no guarantees as young Jessica has already proven.

Technology and the human self can fail, and just when they’re needed most.

But instead of someone standing up and saying this is ridiculous and wrong, of talking sensibly about what’s going on here, a young girl chasing her dreams in an unsuitable and, frankly, dangerous manner, we become side-tracked by arguments about the rights of young people, sexism and politically correct claptrap.

Young people have the right to know that the adults around them care for their well-being, so much so, sometimes they say ‘no’. Sometimes, they make the young person wait to reach for the stars because in waiting, important moral and ethical lessons are learned.

As for the sexism argument – I think that card has been played well and truly by Jessica and her family. Jessica’s lovely mien has been flashed everywhere and then some, along with her Barbie-pink boat – pirate bait as one (half)wit described it. Her attractiveness has gained her, like all the other celebrity hopefuls, her fifteen minutes of fame. A less pretty girl, or perhaps even a boy (after all, Jess Martin has been there done that) would not have drawn the media throngs. So I think the Watson family has to be careful when throwing stones – they may sink the boat.

Finally, the PC brigade has had a field day with this. Comments have ranged from ‘you go, girl!’ to remarking on her grit and determination to follow her desires. In a different context, she might also be called spoiled and indulged. Up until the first accident and subsequent report that revealed negligence, fatigue and culpability on Jessica’s part, there’s not been enough people standing up and talking about children’s rights to be protected – from adult stupidity, the fleeting glory of a record, and often, from themselves.

If she breaks the record, will we then approve 15, 14 and 13 year olds making the journey for the same reasons? To fulfill their dreams? To make history?

Now, as a community we’re suddenly a little concerned, but you didn’t need an eyeglass to see the problems coming. Of course Jessica will make mistakes – she’s a teenager and, as one, she has the right to make these in her own world and with her parents nearby, not in another ocean, on the end of a radio or other digital device.

Whether she succeeds or not, I’ll say it: Jessica is too young to embark on this great adventure.  The world’s not going anywhere. The journey to adulthood should be enough for now.

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72 comments

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    • AFR says:

      11:48am | 30/09/09

      If she wants to do it, and her parents want her to - then who are the rest of us to stop her? I personally don;t give a rats either way.

    • iansand says:

      11:56am | 30/09/09

      Why is it PC to let her do what she wants to do?  A bit more clarity of thought would help this article immeasurably.  I wonder what your views are on the “nanny-state”?  I bet you are against that, too.

    • Jack Sparrow says:

      11:56am | 30/09/09

      I dont see anything PC or sexist at all - i do detect stupidity and bad planning - a porly researched endeavour and dumb sponsors

    • eddie says:

      11:57am | 30/09/09

      let her go, if she is not up to the journey, is stupid enough to embark on it and get herself killed on the way, she will be removed from our gene pool and in the running for a Darwin award. The least we can do is allow her the opportunity. If she makes it well and good. (is anyone taking bets on how far she will get?)

    • S says:

      12:06pm | 30/09/09

      I applaude Karen’s comments and i think they reflect those of a growing majority of the population. It is, fankly, unbelievably ridiculous that Jessica’s parents can possibly allow this farce to continue. Are they after media attention and a well paid spot on A Current Affair? This poor girl couldn’t even back down and realise her mistake if she wanted to, there is so much media hype and pressure surrounding this story not to mention her parents are taking every opportunity to tell the country that she will keep going.
      Parents do need to step in and say ‘no’ as the situation calls for it.
      Teenagers don’t need another ‘friend’ in their parent, they need an adults’ guidance and protection.

    • Lord Grognard says:

      12:10pm | 30/09/09

      All 16 year olds should be sent out on an adventure where they have to fend for themselves.  It will give them some experience and wisdom and a bit of perspective on life.  Sure some may not come back, but at least they’ll have gone down doing something interesting instead of dieing at 70 of alsheimers or some other degrading illness.

    • matt says:

      12:28pm | 30/09/09

      Karen, what had you (or any of us) done by 16?
      I suspect Jess will have a much richer life for having attempted this, let alone if she succeeds.
      Yes, there’s risk involved, but you could die crossing the road.
      You go girl.

    • Steve Smith says:

      12:30pm | 30/09/09

      The way I see this…, it’s completely stupid to let a child who is not qualified to handle a car and who has already proven they are just as incapable on water, to do a voyage of such stature.. but I don’t lose a daughter if something happens to her.

      If it’s legal, then everyone should let her be. For everyone else it’s just another name in the obituary.

    • Me says:

      12:30pm | 30/09/09

      How on Earth is this PC? Do you actually know what political correctness means, or is it just a buzz word that means “something bad used by lefties and destroyers of society” to you?

    • Garnt says:

      12:31pm | 30/09/09

      Karen,

      Thankfully its not your decision, my decision or anyone else’s decision.

      It’s her parents, and her decision to make not yours.  grow up…

    • Stu says:

      12:41pm | 30/09/09

      Funny… it used to be that political correctness was closely aligned to the nanny state. It seems Karen has found a way to abuse political correctness while demanding the community protect people from themselves. What an extraordinary load of claptrap.

    • Paul says:

      12:47pm | 30/09/09

      Bit more of an exciting adventure than be stuck in Uni with bored boomer professors. Like alot things in the irrational human world, we do it because we can. Forget PC it’s actually Culturally Correct -we say so!

    • Aitch says:

      12:52pm | 30/09/09

      Err, guess what Karen? Your opinion means nothing to Jesica, her family and millions of other Australians who like to see people have a go. You know this, so why bother sharing it? She’s going anyway. Would it not be better to get behind her rather than demonise the who project? 
      No one poo-pooed Jesse Martin.
      No one poo-pooed Kay Cottee.
      Jessica’s got more chance dying in a car than she is at sea.
      You forget that only a few generations ago, teenagers not much older than Jessica were sent to war by this country. Sure, we’ve come a long way, but I think you’ve gotten a little hysterical about a girl on a sailing trip in th 21st century.

    • Larry says:

      12:57pm | 30/09/09

      I wonder what Mrs. Columbus thought when young Christopher set off all those years ago, without a GPS. radio or radar?

    • Maxo says:

      01:01pm | 30/09/09

      You really have to feel sorry for Karen’s students at Southern Cross University. “Kids, don’t think for yourselves or do anything for yourselves because there are strangers outside the campus gates. Stay snug, and warm and safe inside. Perhaps take a creative writing course, use your imagination of what MIGHT be happening outside the campus gates to write books that no one will ever read. After all, experience adn adventure might lead to tolerance.”

      Piffle!

    • Michael says:

      01:07pm | 30/09/09

      This is just dumb she is going to get herself killed, the parents are guilty of a crime in my opinion, I think they should be charged with child neglect for letter her go out there alone.

    • Samuel says:

      01:08pm | 30/09/09

      So it would be alright if her dream was to drive solo around Australia? Of course not - she can’t have a license. Nor should she be allowed to sail solo around the world - both for her own safety but also for the safety of others.

    • PCnotforme says:

      01:16pm | 30/09/09

      I think it is more than just fame and fortune that drives her. It may well be part of her motivation but I don’t think it is the driving force. She certainly did not sit there and go “Bugger, I stuffed the Australian Idol audition this year so it looks like I will have to do that round the world thingy to be famous.” This trip has been a dream of hers for many years. I support in this attempt because she has had the drive and ambition to get out there and do whatever she can to achieve her goal and this is an admirable quality in any person.

    • joe says:

      01:32pm | 30/09/09

      This girl has catastrophically failed already. She couldn’t even make it as far as the Gold Coast which says a lot. She shouldn’t be going.

      She kept saying in the media scrum how great her support team was. Newsflash - once you leave QLD its all upto you. No more team to come and get you.

    • Mal says:

      01:35pm | 30/09/09

      Any of these adventurers – male or female should be made take out insurance to fund the search and rescue operations they lump onto the rest of society. If they want to brave it all out in the world – whatever –who cares – but for god sake why should others to risk their necks for these self centred indulgences.

    • Stacey says:

      01:41pm | 30/09/09

      Simple, the MSQ report was damning and concluded that she lacked basic skills. She still lacks those skills. The only reason she’s still going is that its not PC to tell a young girls shes not up to it, that would lead to cries of “sexist” you see…..

    • pc says:

      01:51pm | 30/09/09

      Even if pc or political correctness ever had meaning it certainly doesnt anymore. Why attack something that no one supports?

      pc emerged out of the demands of rapidly changing post second world war societies - at the same time as the welfare state, I would add the welfare state was the peoples prize for their heroic sacrifices during that conflict. Workplaces were becoming a mix, slowly in many cases, of different genders, ethnicities and sexualites. People who had no experience of different people often had no idea how to describe those differences, or explain them, or even get along without causing offence and slowing productivity. pc owes more to management studies that the critical theories and practices of gender or cultural studies, the ar#$holes of the world usually attack.  Mark Colvin, on a strand below, discusses the debasement of language, that management/business/media studies are usually reponsible for patronising and supporting. I have one more, instead of cosmopolitan, communication/media studies calls this pan human. I have never met anyone that describes themselves as pan human, though I have met many that call themselves cosmopolitan.

    • Phil says:

      01:55pm | 30/09/09

      Karen

      How exactly did you plan on preventing her (and others) from sailing?  Make a law against it?  In what juristiction?

      She wants to do it, her parents think it’s okay and it’s not against the law.

      So maybe a bit of “mind your own business” might be in order.

    • acker says:

      02:40pm | 30/09/09

      Most people would disaprove if her parents let her hitch hike around Australia.

      Yet many of the same people do not disaprove that she is undertaking a solo sailing trip around the globe, in a non motorized vessel that could easilly be run down by some sex predators in a motorised boat.

      ?????

    • Jarrod says:

      02:46pm | 30/09/09

      I can sea the navies of the world being asked to chip in for free to rescue her when she stuffs up out where it’s simply not possible to limp into shore. It simple she may have clocked up some miles in a boat but crashing into a great big cargo ship really shows her major deficiencies. I as a taxpayer am not thrilled about the encouragement of her quest, despite her lack of skills. Still while we taxpayers pick up the cost of any required rescue either way she make her fortune selling her story to womans day and the like.

    • Patrick says:

      02:54pm | 30/09/09

      acker, I think there may be greater dangers to sailing solo around the world than worrying about sex pradators in a motorized boat..unless of course she runs into some randy pirates on her way past Somalia.

      I suggest to you that the favourite tactic of sex pradators is not sailing the high seas looking for prey, so I think she can probably sleep easy with regards to that.

    • SM says:

      03:15pm | 30/09/09

      Seems a bit odd that a report can conclude that she lacks basic sailing skills, yet she’s still able to sail off into the sunset on her journey.  Don’t they require you to have a licence or some such thing to demonstrate that you’re a competent and safe sailor?  As for her parents, they do seem to possess that quite sickly but oh so prevalent “how dare anyone question anything my child does” attitude.  At the very least, they or the girl’s sponsors should be required to take out some sort of insurance in the event of something going wrong, or to fully reimburse the relevant authorites involved should she need to be rescued

    • Cal Palmer says:

      03:26pm | 30/09/09

      I’d think very long and very hard if it was my son OR daughter. I’d also want to - as impossible as it would be, try and guarantee her safety. I hope the parents have sought expert advice, ticked every box and spoken to the likes of Kay Cottee, Jesse White et al. I’m not a sailor but from what I’ve read, it’s a very big and dangerous risk for anyone – young or old.

      On balance, I wouldn’t support it. Why? We have all seen the loss of life by seasoned professional in the Sydney to Hobart race where racing authorities kept a very close eye on what was going on. Will she have this “close and timely” support?

      In the end it is not my call, it’s her decision and that her parents. I only hope and pray that she comes home alive and well because if something dreadful should happen, you would - OR should as a parent never live it down.

      As for the PC line – it is a red herring and irrelevant. Why this crap gets pushed around as being pertinent to this article beggars belief.

    • Mark says:

      03:34pm | 30/09/09

      16 is only a number, Jessica has more courage than most people in society.

    • acker says:

      04:00pm | 30/09/09

      @Mark

      She is sailing a boat, not fighting crocodiles.

      She does have however parents who are prepared to invest a lot of money in her record attempt.

    • Alison says:

      04:32pm | 30/09/09

      1. It’s a known fact that the parts of the brain that can assess risk are not fully developed until our early 20’s.  This young woman clearly has not assessed the risks associated with such an undertaking.
      2. It’s a parent’s job to set boundaries.  If Jessica can’t assess the risks then her parents have a responsibility to do so.  If there was evidence that they’d thought about the risks involved instead of just their daughter’s “rights” then I might feel differently. 
      Yes, she’s determined and may have courage but that doesn’t mean she’s wise or thoughtful or even halfway sensible.  How many of us were determined to do stupid things in our teens, and now look back and say “Thank God my mother just said No.”
      It’s not only Jessica that should be considered here.  If she needs rescuing then other people have to place their lives at risk to bring her home safely.  We, as taxpayers, may have to foot the costs of such a rescue.
      I see my job as a parent as being to encourage my child to dream big dreams, but to know all the steps involved in making them a reality.  And, to say No when necessary.

    • stephen says:

      04:45pm | 30/09/09

      acker ; you think roman polanski’s gonna go sailin’ ?

    • iansand says:

      05:01pm | 30/09/09

      I was wondering if anyone who is concerned about assessing the risks has any knowledge of the actual risks?  Rollovers, knockdowns and poopings in the Southern Ocean are the real worries. 

      Comparisons with Hobart are just silly - those boats are pushed to the limit 24 hours a day, whereas any sensible solo sailor will shorten sail at sunset and heave to in bad conditions.  Pirates?  I doubt she is going anywhere near the Horn of Africa or the Malay/Indonesian/Phillipines archipelagoes.  The same applies to busy sea lanes.  Ships don’t go where she is going.

    • JA says:

      05:28pm | 30/09/09

      I get the article.  Jessica’s boat trip is being held up as an example of our current society’s reluctance to impose restrictions on others’ exploits or wishes out of fear of being called a wowser (as has happened to Karen here) or of being seen as crushing others’ dreams.  It’s a stretch to link this with morals, but in a world with thin moral fibre, then anything becomes permissable.  Sensibility gets pushed aside in favour of ‘rights’.

    • Madness says:

      06:20pm | 30/09/09

      Im sure the Australian Federal Police already have the Involuntary Manslaughter charges written up for her parents already.  All the best of good luck if she gets to go, but i think it will end in tears.

    • James says:

      07:08pm | 30/09/09

      1.  It is Jesse Martin, not Jess.  - That says alot about the quality of research by “Journalists”

      2.  Supporting Jessica Watson is the exact opposite of political correctness.  I’m confused as to how someone saying “You go girl” is at all PC? 

      3.  This has nothing to do with gender, Jessica Watson & Jesse Martin (male) physical strength levels would not be that different, Jesse Martin is/was a fairly scrawny guy, and they are sailing the same design of boat.  And given the difference in mental development between males and femals, I dare say Jessica is more mature, despite being only slightly younger, than Jesse Martin

      4.  Why do you care?  People crap on about taxpayer funded rescues, seriously, how do you think the amount of money spent on rescues at sea compares to the amount of money spent in the health system looking after lazy armchair critics?

      5. No one stops fat people eating, smokers smoking or drinkers drinking, and I’m pretty sure the amount of money spent on caring for these people with self induced health problems is far less than the amount of money EVER spent on all sea rescues by Australia.

    • iansand says:

      08:33pm | 30/09/09

      “Columbus - don’t go.”

      Get a grip.

    • Heather says:

      09:48pm | 30/09/09

      If Jessica was a 16 year-old boy who made that sort of inexperienced error, poeple would be allowed to call for the voyage to be put on hold without being accused of sexism.

      What’s good for the gander…. she shouldn’t be allowed to do the voyage because she is clearly not able. Being female has nothing to do with it.

    • David says:

      10:42pm | 30/09/09

      For centuries many thousands of sailors spent years at sea searching for Terra Australis, the unknown Southern Land. They knew it existed; quite a few got here, but bounced off a bit of coastline and knew nothing of the scope of this continent. Many hundreds died trying to get here under pure sails and stars and sexton. These days there’s very little new ground to break on the oceans, this lass is having a crack. By virtue of age and sex she’s judged. Her boat is graded at the highest safety rating possible, the sat-nav-weather kit is state of the art, she’s been drilled and prodded by the head doctors and has plans for many possible scenarios of the solo undertaking. She’s prepared. So let her give it a go. Most teens only get out of bed when kicked out. None cook, clean, or give a shit generally. Jessica is a brave and motivated girl who wants to achieve something. But people say no? It’s too dangerous? Rescue missions are so expensive! Australia, FFS, let’s just get behind her, let her get on with it, and wish her well.

    • Deevo says:

      11:57pm | 30/09/09

      Good grief, haven’t any of you nay-sayers ever had a real adventure?
      When I was 10 years old (in 1965) I travelled by myself by boat, plane, boat and boat to this then little known island called Bali and had the time of my life! From the age of 14 I would stick out my thumb and go hitch-hiking all around WA every school holiday - again more fun and more education than anything else available. Since then I’ve been a rally driver, jumped out of planes, done rock climbing and sailing and diving and on and on. I’ve had a great life full of adventures and challenges and learning.
      I’ll bet none of you negative types ever did anything like this. You literally don’t know what adventure is, so piss off and let those of us that do just get on with enriching our lives.
      You say you’re worried about Jessica dying, but as far as I can see it’s you who are already dead. You’re only here once, so get out and live!

    • Harry says:

      07:52am | 01/10/09

      This whole saga is cringe-worthy. Even more cringe-worthy will be the nauseating epitaph “well, at least she died doing something that she loved!”

      Roll on Darwin.

    • im says:

      07:56am | 01/10/09

      You say she is “very attractive”. Now that is PC in itself. She isn’t attractive and what difference would it make if she was?

    • Bushie18 says:

      07:58am | 01/10/09

      Dangerous? Yes. So is climbing Everest.  It carries a very high risk of fatality. So do many things that stretch the limits and make living worthwhile.  People choose to do these things. She wants to do it and has parental consent. It’s highly unlikely that she’ll have another accident.

      Very attractive? C’mon. You complain about others being PC. She’s kinda average for a 16 y/o. She’s had way too much time in the sun and her skin makes her look about 28.

    • Mr.Eccentric says:

      08:20am | 01/10/09

      I dont think its anybodys business what this girl does or doesnt do….if we are so ALL worried about children and their welfare, go an donate money to orphanages and the red cross…
      I agree with you Deevo, go out there and do it!!!! if we kept stopping ourselves and didnt do what we desire we would still be thousands of years back living in eskimos….

    • Brian Matravers says:

      08:25am | 01/10/09

      Since human kind existed it debated; wrong or right often depends on the circumstances, and on the culture and its morals and ethics we live in. I have a stance on the topic, but what does it matter? What really impressed me was this well-presented argument, considering many journos are simply opinionated people stirrer, or are just loud.
      So in the interest of debate, try to present your arguments as well as this one, and I take off my hat.

    • acker says:

      08:40am | 01/10/09

      Has anyone explored the possibility that possible catastophic financial loss to her family if this age related world record attempt does not happen in time is influencing and possibly pressuring Jessica Watson to go within a time frame rather than just going when she is adequately trained.

      This all seems a little bit vicarious to me.

      It wouldn’t be the first time parents have pressured a child to seek fame.

    • Carl Palmer says:

      09:21am | 01/10/09

      @ iansand says: 05:01pm | 30/09/09
      I think most of the folks here have a rough idea of the risks, that’s the point of the discussion. If there wasn’t a significant risk for a 16YO then what’s the problem? And re the Syd to Hobart, you missed the point so I won’t try and explain. Finally, your “I doubt she is” comment, clearly displays you have no idea and don’t know, so this time I’ll point you in the right direction - http://www.jessicawatson.com.au/route-rules

    • Paul White says:

      09:23am | 01/10/09

      Glad to see Australia’s ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is still very much alive and kicking. When will we as a nation mature and join the rest of the world?

    • Rachel says:

      09:48am | 01/10/09

      Perhaps we should be debating about who is responsible for a child’s safety. Many comments refer to it being the parents’ decision. Are children commodities again? Belongings to be used at a parent’s whim.

    • Colin den Ronden says:

      11:11am | 01/10/09

      When I was a baby my father, who was formerly in the Dutch Navy during the battle of the Java Sea, wanted to buy a canal barge so he could sail his family from England to Australia. I’m glad that fell through. Maybe in an alternate universe it happened and we didn’t survive.

    • Dwest says:

      11:59am | 01/10/09

      When I was 10-12 we would drive cars, utes, tractors on farms/country roads to town. By 15-16 we were operating trucks and heavy Caterpiller front end loaders. The young girls were far more responsible and adult than most guys were. With GPS equipment the world is a very small place like a farm district.  Regarding rescue - most of the Navys of the world are overfunded anyway. You need to get out of your WASPY suburb more.

    • Dwest says:

      12:00pm | 01/10/09

      When I was 10-12 we would drive cars, utes, tractors on farms/country roads to town. By 15-16 we were operating trucks and heavy Caterpiller front end loaders. The young girls were far more responsible and adult than most guys were. With GPS equipment the world is a very small place like a farm district.  Regarding rescue - most of the Navys of the world are overfunded anyway. You need to get out of your WASPY suburb more.

    • Tia says:

      03:18pm | 01/10/09

      Do we really need yet another article by someone with an opinion but little in the way of research to back it up?

      “So many people have tiptoed around the heart of the issue: that is, a very attractive, 16 year old female is about to set sail on her own, over oceans, crossing borders, cultures and encountering adventures, strangers and potential problems in equal measure.”

      This is a strange comment, coming after the paragraph where Brooks dismisses Mrs Watson’s point that some of the criticism has been sexist. Why mention Jessica’s appearance and gender if the disapproval is solely based on her age and alleged inexperience? And what “cultures” and “strangers” is one likely to encounter on a solo, non-stop, unassisted voyage? I’m surprised Brooks didn’t bring out the pirates bogeyman…

      “Not old enough to drive, drink or vote”.

      This is irrelevant. The age at which one can obtain a recreational marine licence in Queensland is 16.

      “while she may have wracked up more nautical miles than Jess Martin, at 16 she’s not equipped to deal with the emotional and psychological, never mind physical problems that a journey of such epic proportions will engender”

      It’s Jesse Martin, actually. Were Mike Perham and Zac Sunderland also unfit by reason of their age when they set out on their circumnavigations at the age of 16? Or are they beyond criticism now that they have successfully completed their voyages?

      “Up until the first accident and subsequent report that revealed negligence, fatigue and culpability on Jessica’s part, there’s not been enough people standing up and talking about children’s rights to be protected – from adult stupidity, the fleeting glory of a record, and often, from themselves.”

      Actually, there has been informed criticism…  from people who know what they’re talking about, rather than self-appointed “protectors of children’s rights”.

    • Carl Palmer says:

      03:36pm | 01/10/09

      Yeah when I was 5 I climbed Mount Everest, flew, swam, drove solo around the world and saved the planet. Wow heaps of elite and high achievers here - all doing lots a stuff.

      Re my original post – “in the end it is not my call, it’s her decision and that her parents” If she wants to go – then go just avoid the cargo ships.

      Over and out

    • Land Lubber says:

      03:52pm | 01/10/09

      Risk takers don’t live long.

      Worry warts don’t live at all.

    • acker says:

      04:08pm | 01/10/09

      @Paul White says: 09:23am | 01/10/09
      Glad to see Australia’s ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’

      Paul my daughter is 14 would beat Jessica for the age circumnavigation record and I don’t mind if she wants to sail around the world.

      After she trains to become a competent sailor, and organizes her own boat, plan, safety, navigation and sponsors.

      If being a competent sailor is not a pre-requisite and this boat of Jessica Watson’s can sail itself, then we may as well put a 3 year old chimpanzee in the thing to get the record.

    • Bob Buck says:

      06:42pm | 01/10/09

      I think everyone is missing the point. If she has the knowledge, experience and ability to tackle this epic journey, by all means go, god speed. But sadly on her first night she failed all three, she was found wanting…this is the point.

    • Aussie Too says:

      08:48pm | 01/10/09

      Bob Buck you have made your point.  If she hadn’t had her first night accident she would be well on her way.  We would be getting follow up stories and everyone would go on their way every day with not a whinge to be heard.

      Thanks Bob

    • Pirate Pete says:

      10:58pm | 01/10/09

      Karen Brooks, apart from attending educational institutes and expressing your opinions in the media, do you have any other real life experiences with which to qualify your opinions?
      Bob Buck, I think YOU are missing the point. Jessica failed nothing on the night of the incident. She survived a collision with a huge vessel in her tiny yacht and unassisted piloted her vessel to safe haven.
      If you had any maritime experience at all you would realise that such an encounter is enough to frighten the living daylights out of the strongest of men let alone a 16 y/o girl.
      That Jessica has continued despite this set back shows she has extraordinary courage. Her dream is strong and if the dream is strong enough the facts do not matter.
      Her yacht is a Sparkman and Stephens 34. That design of yacht has done this voyage probably 100 times over. Google it to find out. There would hardly have been a year go by since 1969 that an example of this yacht has not competed in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
      What Jessica is attempting has been done many times over and by people just slightly older than she. That is the only difference.
      I am not waving a flag for Jessica Watson. I am waving a flag for all people who step out of normality and live their dream despite the neggo naysayers sitting on the sidelines.
      There are three kinds of people in life. Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that say “What happened?”
      Which kind are you?

    • Vicki PS says:

      01:31am | 02/10/09

      @PiratePete—Motivational-speakerese slogans of the “there are three kinds of people” and “if the dream is strong enough facts do not matter” type merely confirm my belief that Jessica’s supporters have been seduced by the self-indulgent ‘90s-ish fantasising of the Me-Me-Me generation. 
      What exactly is Jessica making happen? —Going off on a pointless trip costing god knows how much money to outfit and support, that, according to you, has already been done many times over, for the sole reason that she wants to.  Big flaming deal. 
      The people who are making things happen (as you so glibly put it) are shutting up and, without hoopla or hype, simply getting on with their jobs—the jobs that maintain the society that allows the likes of Miss Jessica to swan off into the sunset on her Barbie yacht and pretend she’s doing something heroic.

    • Kippo says:

      09:23pm | 02/10/09

      Sign them up, to all the “go Jess” people, sign them up, your wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, sign them up for the special forces in Afghanistan, much better chance of survival than poor Jess. Lets hope the maritime authorities in NSW can put a stop to this reduculous venture.

    • Kippo says:

      09:31pm | 02/10/09

      So Jess has endorsement by motorsport heros…...... if you happen to slide and cartwheel down the track and bounce off the tyre barrier and end up as a battered mushy mess, how long until medical assistance arrives?.....60 seconds?.....food for thought.  In the southern ocean there is no medic around the next corner. On so many levels the “go Jess” people are completely deluded.

    • jessica-will-meet-davey-jones says:

      03:53am | 08/10/09

      I was raised as a commercial fisherman in the Cook Strait waters of NZ (far worse than the Bass Strait b/w Vic/Tas). When this young girl goes sailing into the deep Southern Ocean (where 100 meter waves have been recorded using satellite data), she’ll meet some massive waves & will be joining Davey Jones - at the bottom of the ocean. Foolish indeed.

    • jessica-will-meet-davey-jones says:

      04:48am | 08/10/09

      Re: David says: 11:42pm 30/09/09

      Do you really have any understanding of deep sea (blue ocean) sailing? You claim the boat is safety rated, yet there’s no mandatory rating for pleasure boats (unlike in sporting events). Your claim of “state of the art sat-nav” does not take into account that electronic equipment fails regularly in a salt air/water environment & heavy seas.

      It’s very likely that she may lose all communication & may have to rely on paper charts, compass, sextant, several clocks (to average the correct time (UTC)) & a chip log (to average speed in knots). Can she use a sextant to take both day & night sights? Is she prepared for lacerations & broken bone accidents in heavy seas?

      The fact is she should not have hit the cargo ship. Most single-handed sailors would go way off-shore (outside of shipping lanes) & then follow a line up/down the coast. Also, subject to budget, they would use an electronic radar detector/deflector (with alarm), AIS alarm (identification system over VHF radio), radar alarm (watchman mode), timed watchman alarm (requires a sailor to push a button at a periodic time). And possibly a battery operated alarm in case the electrical current from the house (non engine starting) batteries went dead.

      I do not criticised her age (as I started deep sea fishing at age 15, first commercial ticket at age 18), but I do question her current seamanship competency. By the time I was her age, I’d already been involved (as crew) in rescuing several unprepared sailors like herself.

      If she makes it back to Australia alive, it will be because of luck, but most definitely not because of skill.

    • Phottecot says:

      11:33am | 04/03/10

      The response to national disaster is awesome but it’s a damn shame that so many people take advantage of the negative situations.

      I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill - there’s always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

      This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys “angels” got busted ripping off the system.  Shame on them!
      http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/08/19/crimesider/entry5251471.shtml

    • G says:

      01:47pm | 15/04/10

      Hmmm,
      What a silly bunch of bitter, purile, angry, pointless people there are posting here.
      While you are sitting on your obese behinds, the rest of the world is out there, being in it. No matter the cost.

      Oh - and no, we don’t look back, not to watch you miserable lots safely ensconsed on your couches, waving your pudgy fists at the TV!

    • Michael says:

      04:30pm | 15/05/10

      Lol…what a tragic end to a short life…if only we had listened to all the carping naysayers like David who knew better

    • AJ says:

      08:17pm | 15/05/10

      Michael, I think you meant to address your comment to jessica-will-meet-davey-jones.

      To Jessica Watson… Congratulations, I salute you!

    • chris says:

      07:40pm | 15/05/10

      Wow she’s done it. Congrats Jessica. What an achievemnet.

      Though I am against you being allowed to have undertake such a dangerous endeavour.

      There is a reason why most states don’t allow 16yr olds to drive, purchase alcohol, legally attend nightclubs, the list goes on.

      I think we have to protect our ‘children’ from such dangers until they are old enough both mentally and legally to make their own descions.

      I’m so glad you have made it home safely grin

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