And meet Abby.
Besides being pretty girls on the decks of sailboats and except for the fact that Jessica is Australian and Abby is a Californian, they both have a lot in common.
Both are currently attempting to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted, around the world. Jessica left Australia back in October and has just rounded Cape Horn and Abby left Marina del Rey about a week ago.
Both are 16 years old and want to break the record currently held by Abby’s brother, Zac, who sailed around the world a couple of years ago when he was 17.
Both are parts of well-oiled, corporate sponsored, celebrity-making machines.
I’m not sure I get it. I’m not sure how I feel about parents allowing (pushing?) their teenage daughters (or sons, for that matter) to single handedly sail approximately 23,000 nautical miles around the earth on a journey that will take approximately 8 to 10 months to complete.
Makes me wonder how much of this is a teenager’s silly dream and how much of this is a teenager suddenly finding herself caught up in something too big to stop. Or maybe a parent seeking a reflected limelight and all the sudden saying goodbye to their kid.
I soooo don’t know.
Granted both girls and their boats appear to be outfitted with all the latest and greatest electronics and safety gear and both are backed by state-of-the-art teams helping them via satellite to skirt bad weather and keeping them in touch with their families back home.
They’re little girls on little sailboats out in the middle of one of the most unforgiving places on earth, hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from any help. They are not seasoned sailors with years of bluewater experience under their belts, in fact, Jessica began her journey amid controversy concerning her lack of sailing skills.
If that’s the case, I hope her luck holds.
A few days ago, Jessica was caught by a storm packing huge waves and winds she clocked at 65 knots, until her anemometer broke. Her boat was knocked down 4 times. (A knockdown is when wind and waves slam a sailboat over on it’s side so that the mast is laying in the water). During one of the knockdowns, she turned turtle, a rogue wave picking up her 34′ sailboat and slamming it into the water upside down. Fortunately her boat righted itself and luckily there was no severe damage to either her or the boat.
I admire the courage of these two little girls and I hope they have a safe passage and get back home to their families.
But I also wonder how their parents and corporate sponsors are gonna sleep at night if they don’t.