Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Real Solo Sailing

This weekend I got the chance to do some proper solo sailing, without cameras and microphones!

I set off on Saturday afternoon into 25-30 knots of wind and a nice wet chop. Apparently Mum wasn’t too impressed when a big set of breaking waves rolled across the river entrance just after me, but Pink Lady and I were doing just fine. Pulling the sails up and settling onto a reach out to sea was all straight forward.

I’m really happy with how confident and easy everything feels. I have to admit, after everything was in order, it was a pretty special feeling sitting in the cockpit watching the boat sail along with the sun setting, land sinking off the horizon, and me working my way through a punnet of strawberries.

Saturday night was good fun too. Surfing along at up to 8 knots, blasting a mix of music that Emily, my sister, put together for me! And I wasn’t about to get bored with plenty of fishing boats and shipping to keep an eye out for.

Catching a bit of sleep in ten and fifteen minute catnaps kept me going. I can describe it as a lot like hitting snooze over and over in the morning! After the sun came up, I cooked breakfast on my little stove, enjoyed a cup of coffee in the sunshine, and spent the morning playing around with different sail combinations. Before coming in on Sunday, I took a leaf out of Jesse Martin's book and brushed my hair with a fork (I forgot a hairbrush!). Then, I finished up by checking my work with a mirror from my tool kit.

Next time I’m out on the water, I'll be heading down to Sydney. I’ll even be able to blog from out on the water, but before any of that we’ve got one big last challenge in front of us… somehow we have to fit the food in! It's hard to imagine how it's going to be possible when you see it all spread out in the spare room at home.

The following link is to an article in the local paper about the food:

Thanks to everyone for leaving comments, its nice to know that someone out there is reading all this. And to answer a very common question: Yes I will have a tracker set up so that you’ll be able to follow my progress. So check out http://www.jessicawatson.com.au/ for the latest details on what's happening.



Laffing Dawg said...

OH, Jess, how fun is that. I enjoy your writing style already. So, what was your playlist - the mix put together by Emily. Let us know what you listen to other than the wind in your sails and the slap of the water.

It is fun following you via your blog. Thanks for the sharing.
Bend, OR USA

Anonymous said...

Hey Jessica! Love reading your blog about whats going on and how your progressing towards achieving you dream! Keep it comming!
Laura Kirby

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica,

It's nice to know you are all geared up for your solo attempt. This past year I've followed the blogs of several solo sailors and ocean rowers. While I am no sailor and considering you have a very able support team I would like to summarize what I remember of the incidents that the solo sailors encountered that caused them various degrees of grief in hopes that you may be able to avoid them or be prepared to fix the problem.

Electrical failures at the topside cable connections to the AIS radar, solar panels, and radio antenna.

Have spare bolts, screws, nuts and washers for all topside and the engine compartment where they are used.

Have spare tools, eating utensils and kitchen tools including a spare bucket and can opener, all of the above were lost overboard or misplaced.

Watch out for portable electronics including iPods, Sat phone, and cameras, several were ruined when they got wet both above and below deck. As Mike Perham mentioned in a recent blog posting, several of the electronics will fail. Suggest a waterproof case for your iPod.

Solar panel inverters failed or caused intermittent problems.

Be prepared to fix the autopilot and the watermaker, spares are essential, including pumps and bearings, also internal parts.

Have stove spare parts.

Keep an emergency knife attached to the mast, came in handy for one sailor.

Leak where a conducting cable passed thru the deck.

Keep that diesel fuel clean, apparently even slight contamination causes all manner of problems. Also I hope you have a proper exhaust backflow valve for your engine, this was also a cause of grief.

Lastly, keep that safety line on even when climbing the mast, a solo sailor was lost at sea in the south Atlantic earlier this year, the harness to climb the mast was found half way up the mast.

I don't intend to scare you, just to let you know what others have encountered and maybe there is something you weren't aware of or can double check still again.

Have a nice voyage, I and others will be following you.

Steve in California

Cameron B said...

Hey Jessica, it has been a while since i have left a blog. Your achivements so far have only scratched the surface for what you have in stall for you. I will be following your every tack and jibe from here on in.
Happy sailing
Cameron B

Steve said...

Hi Jessica, All the best for your upcoming adventure. please make sure you or your shore crew update your blog, so the rest of us can follow you. I have already started a thread on my website here http://yachtyakka.co.nz/

Happy Sailing


PAT said...

hey jess
good to hear all is going good for you
keep em coming
pat nsw

Aline Bastos said...


I've been folowing your site lately and I wish you good winds and a happy sailing!!!


Anonymous said...

Hello Jessica,
sounds as though you have everything under control. Since I am a newbee to the 'follow the blog' scene (I am reading all of Mike Penhams blogs just now) and a land lubber to boot, I can't hold forth with sailing terms, but I can wish you a safe, unforgettable journey and homecoming.
I have been reading your diary every day and will continue to do so until you are safely at home again.
Three cheers for following your heart,
Trudy, a grandma from Austria

LT said...

I am sure you will find a way to make all the food fit. There are people reading this, heck I check almost every day.

Brooklyn Park, MN USA

Jake said...


I wish you fair winds and following seas! It is my dream to sail around the world too, though im too old for the youngest record (I'm 22) I will make it someday. Enjoy your trip and know that there are many of us out there thinking of you and wishing you well.

Bellingham, WA USA

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I wish you much luck and have been reading your blog for a while now. I think the pink lady is beautiful (I love pink). Are you concerned your adventure will be haulted at a point because of your age?
United States Fan

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess,

Russ from Cumbria in England.
So just when will you be leaving?
Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica,

Since you're taking quite a few tins of Spam and pineapple may I suggest you also take some brown sugar. Spam fried or preferably broiled or baked with pineapple and brown sugar is quite tasty. Use some crushed pineapple if you got some but pieces will do.
Btw, Spam must be fried or broiled to really taste good...but you know that, many don't.

Steve in California

Adam said...

I have been following the adventures of Mike Perham on his solo voyage, and now that he has finished, I am getting blog-update-withdrawal-symtoms! I will now follow your voyage with great interest over the coming months, and I wish you all the best. Puts my little weekend sailing exploits in the Solent into perspective dosn't it! Good luck to you, and to your all important support team.

Patty said...

Wishing you all the very best Jessica, I am so proud that young Australians still yearn for adventure. I grew up reading Enid Blyton books of the Famous Five, it seemed a world away, and I spent years of my childhood dreaming of travelling with my friends in a gypsy caravan, discovering smugglers and rowing dinghies to hidden islands - all without parents! *bliss!

Go for it: have fun, be scared, grow and mature, embrace and discard.

There's an old saying amongst parents, no child attempts what it thinks it can't achieve.

Wishing you safe winds, calm seas, best friends, and guiding lights along your journey.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica!

Wow, a young good looking girl alone on the ocean around the world.
The world needs more teenager as you.

I wish you good winds, no trouble on board and a safety return to your homeport.

Chris from Austria

Just a joke: “do not forget your hairbrush if you leave the port. To do the hair with a fork fore 7 ore more months, it will be terrible.”

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica!

Wow, a young good looking girl alone on the ocean around the world.
The world needs more teenager as you.

I wish you good winds, no trouble on board and a safety return to your homeport.

Chris from Austria

Just a joke: “do not forget your hairbrush if you leave the port. To do the hair with a fork fore 7 ore more months, it will be terrible.”

LT said...

Spam is made very near where I live. So at our State Fair we have a giant Spam Can guy in the parade. I'm including a link to a picture for your amusement. http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Gg2IgNv776tol9TlnW3WYA

caryl said...

Wonderful to see you truly living your dream. Wish more youngsters had great dreams and more of us dared to follow our hearts and truly live. Wishing you fair winds, a great voyage and a safe return.

Anonymous said...

I live on the spit and today the channel 7 chopper landed in our "backyard". By chance I was on my scooter at the time, so i buzzed up to the yachtie and there you were, getting a big send off. Wow! I have heard your attempt, but I never got to see anything you were doing, so it was the coolest thing to see you motor passed me, standing on the end finger, today looking very collected in you thoughts, in a great little boat.

I wish you all the best and I know whatever happens, you will be having one of the best experiences life and the earth can offer.

Enjoy your solo journey.
Bon Voyage Jessica

73 Taranaki the Spit.

Anonymous said...

Jesse I wish you every success and I look forward to reading about your progress. You are already proving to be a great Aussie with grit and determination. Safe sailing, be strong and if the going gets tough "Smile" !

Steve'o ( Victoria )

kooparoona said...

Well Jessica, after all the press (mostly negative lately) I was just compelled to send you a positive greeting and let you know how inspiring I think you are.
It's the first time I've ever posted a comment anywhere or followed a blog, and reading yours is allowing me to follow your journey. So thanks for sharing it all.
I'm all for solo adventures, though only on land as I don't have sea legs. I'm often out bushwalking alone for days, even weeks and the flack I cop for going alone is ridiculous. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
You are about to embark on one of the greatest journeys ever. I hope you can keep a positive mindset while all this negative press is going on. And no matter how far you get (and hopefully it'll be all the way) what you have achieved so far is very, very impressive. I'll be following your blog and keep you in my prayers each day.
Stay safe, and come home safe. Happy Travels
West Coast, Tasmania