Friday, September 11, 2009

What a week. From the highs of departing Mooloolaba, my home port, with family, friends and media waving me off, to the incredible turn of events soon after.

I think it's fair to say that there aren't many people left that haven't heard about the incident on Tuesday night. Basically, Ella’s Pink Lady was hit by a 225 meter long bulk carrier just before 2:00am causing damage to the hull, breaking the mast in two and destroying the rigging. Ella’s Pink Lady was running navigation lights and collision avoidance equipment, but I can't go into further details as we currently have three different departments investigating the collision.

The big thing is that I’m safe and well and that although Ella’s Pink Lady has suffered some pretty bad damage, it’s all repairable.

I won’t play it down. It was a pretty scary and dangerous incident. The sound of Ella’s Pink Lady being scraped along the hull of a 63,000 tonne ship isn’t something that I’m likely to ever forget. But at the same time I’m proud of the way the whole team handled the situation. From my first call back to base everything was under control, and looking back it was amazing to see years of planning for such an emergency click into place.

Up to this point I had only ever been able to read about and discuss what to do in such a situation. So in many ways it was really comforting to know that I was able to keep a completely cool head and instinctively know what needed to be done.

After we separated, there was quite a bit of work clearing the deck, which looked a lot like war zone, before starting up the engine and motoring into the nearest port, Southport.

Has it put me off? Well no, I’m as determined as ever, and to be honest if an incident like this had put me off I can’t have been very serious about it to begin with. More than anything it taught us all an amazing amount about how tight the team is and just how prepared I am.

The media and public interest over the collision has been overwhelming. When the news got out (very quickly) I had choppers following me all day, a fleet of boats to escort me in and hundreds of people standing on the break waters. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me.

Although I did not require assistance, the Rescue Coordination Centre (in Canberra) was very supportive and the Gold Coast Water Police did an amazing job of helping me through the mayhem of media and spectator boats to the marina.

Now, it’s all about looking forward. Things are already underway to get Ella’s Pink Lady restored to her original beauty. The support we’ve had here on the Gold Coast and everywhere has been overwhelming, but more on that soon.

It seems that this has only set us back a couple of weeks. We will know for sure over the weekend. Stay tuned.

You can find information from the press conference on the news section of my website www.jessicawatson.com.au

Thanks again to everyone for their interest and support.

38 comments:

Stephen Moore said...

causing damage to the hull, breaking the mast in two and destroying the rigging.

Wow, that's more damage than I initially imagined. Glad to read you got out of it safely.

And though it's (hopefully) only a minor setback, a good thing it happened in Australian waters close to port and the support crew: a test one does not want to repeat, but a test of the systems you have in place for just such eventualities. As you write, "it was amazing to see years of planning for such an emergency click into place."

Happy sailing, Jessica.

Yorick said...

I'm still wondering why you collided with a tanker, I imagine you were sleeping though. Bad weather maybe? Anyway, you're alright and that's the important thing I guess. Any idea on when you can depart once more? Any idea on what to do to prevent such accidents in the future? ;]

Also I have to wonder, what is your opinion about the 13 year old Dutch girl also trying to sail around the world? I don't think anybody has bothered asking you for your opinion yet. Do you personally feel there should be an age limit for such attempts?

Anyway, best of luck on your future voyages, I hope you get the record at least for a while!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jessica,
so glad, everything is turning out O.K. It is thrilling to hear you relate the support you get from people. I guess a little bit of everyones dreams are rolled up into yours, so we all cheer you on.
A speedy recovery for Ella's pink lady and
that one you will not have to repeat!
Save journey,
Trudy from Austria

Bill Ashman said...

That was one hell of a 24hrs, and coming back to face the media must have been one of the toughest parts. Your recovery and getting back un-assisted is something to be proud of. You have a great team behind you, and hopefully this is only a short delay. On behalf of all your supporters, thanks for keeping up the blog, good luck and speedy repairs!.

Cheers, Bill
Western Australia

Kevin and Krista said...

Thank God all is going to be okay and you are safe! Can't wait to see you back out soon.

Thanks for sharing the journey with us around the world!

:) Krista in North Carolina, USA

Mike said...

Sorry to read about your ‘bump in the night’, but its something that can and has happened to the best.

And congratulations on the way you handled the situation.

I hope this isn’t going to affect your plans too much.

Mike.

Ulrich said...

The most important thing is that you came out of it healthy. Everything else you can buy with money.

However this happened, if we would stop doing all the things that did go wrong once, no one had anything to do left.

If no one had ever risked a thing, we would still all be in the stone age.

Extraordinary things are always accompanied with risk.

Giving up because of risk or problems achieves nothing ever.

It´s good to hear that your spirit seems undamaged.

Wish you well from Germany!

Mouse on a Motorcycle said...

As per usual, I don't really have anything to add to what everyone else has said, but I just wanted to add my voice to the volume of support and encouragement that you deserve.

Alone on the sea, stuff happens. Sometimes things just go pear-shaped, and it's in the dealing with the problems where your mettle is demonstrated. That's why thousands of little people fly around the world every day, but only a handful have attempted what you're attempting.

Still praying Numbers 6:24-26
Mouse in Whittier
www.myspace.com/mouseonamotorcycle

Buy "Death and Coffee" here!

Matt King said...

Hey Jessica well done with how you handled it, it just goes to show how head strong you are. Good Luck with the repairs.

Amy said...

Jessica, you seem to be a very grown up 16 year old. You seem to have handle the accident with more compsure than most adults would...me especially :) I admire what you are doing and wish you all the best! I will keep up with your progress!

Jean said...

Tried to send an email when I heard the news, but not sure if it got through.

Don't let this set back put you down. We left Melb in 07, got as far as Darwin before hubby, Peter, the dill, managed to break 5 ribs collecting an unlit cat in Fannie Bay when in the dinghy.

10 month pause in Darwin, but now, with 14,000 nms under our belt, in a nice bar in Turkey.

Saw the pics of the damage - irrespective of what happened and why, you did a huge job getting the damage under control. Good seamanship - very good seamanship.

Live your dream, girl.

Jean

Anonymous said...

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! Many of us, all over the world, have been glued to the news, which was only reporting the event itself. We were more concerned about how YOU are, and as is evident by your recent post, you are stronger than ever. Thank goodness for all your training and preparation, as it obviously paid off and you simply set about what needed to be done. You are an amazing young lady, and clearly this has not discouraged you from reaching your goal. Many blessings to you and your team as you clear things up and prepare for 'take two'! -Karyn (IN, USA)

Anonymous said...

The media is probably the worst that can happen to somebody; I reckon you'll enjoy the solitude once you're under way again.
Meanwhile you can use the additional time to get yourself some more books and music and whatever comes to mind that might be found missing later, stay around the boat to learn about the new rigging and how to make small repairs on the hull by yourself;
"You start with a bag full of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck."

Laffing Dawg said...

Jessica, I am so proud of how you handled this whole situation. You certainly are ready for your quest. Carry on and God Bless. I am so glad you were not injured.

Kathy
Bend, OR USA

Marcus Schormann said...

dear Jessica, i do fully agree with you, when you say the incident shows you, your team and your family that all preparation was allright and you´re fully in position to handle even cases off emrgency as efficient as neccessary. I suppose this might be a final sign for every critic of your projekt. So do all the repair for PINK LADY and do what is your idea and sail around the globe, you´re strong enough to handle it. I believe in you
many regards , Marcus Schormann, Germany

HollyLau said...

Jessica, You are such an inspiration! Good Luck to you on your voyage.. Please keep us updated.. I check your blog everyday for an update. You have alot of people supporting you, how proud your family and friends must be.. You are amazing..sending best wishes and safe travels from Detroit, Michigan USA!

Be Safe!
Holly

Anonymous said...

Yikes, this is the first detail I've heard about the incident. Sure glad you are OK. If that huge ship was in any way at fault, and I'll bet it was, I hope the captain and the ship's owner's get penalized big time. Based on what Zac and others have reported there seems to be more irresponsibilty than the public realizes about what these vessels should be doing for marine safety but are not.

But the main thing is you are unharmed.

Steve in California

miiii said...

that sucks
being in a accidant with such a thing

i know it looks bigger than it is hehe
but still

good to hear you`r allricht

greatings
Daan Werdekker
from holland

Jordan said...

Thats good to hear keep your head up and go strong.

Jedii said...

Brilliant work Jessica on coping with that scary accident. I was only just saying to some people I play wow with that yr greatest initial fear was hitting he first storm not a bleeding great tanker!

Good luck and look forward to yr fresh start!

Jedii

Andrew said...

good 2 hear ur all good and that u will b back on the water and back on ur way soon

Anonymous said...

The main thing is your safe Jess, put this one in your pocket as experience. Youll be back out there before you know it.

Mark
St John Ambulance

Albert said...

The following is on Wikipedia,
"On 11 March 2009 off the coast of southeast Queensland, Australia, 230 tonnes of fuel oil, 30 tonnes of other fuel and 31 shipping containers spilled into the ocean north of Moreton Bay during Cyclone Hamish after unsecured cargo on the container ship MV Pacific Adventurer damaged other cargo, causing the spillage. Over the following days, the spill washed ashore along 60 kilometres of coastline encompassing the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Bribie Island and Moreton Island".

We have a problem with some foreign ships in our seaways, there seems to be a small number of rogue operators with an "arrogant, say nothing attitude" who do not act responsibly and an incident like the one involving Jessica will happen again.
All the people criticising Jessica for being in a seaway have no knowledge of the rules. A seaway is a lane at sea that is a regularly used route for vessels and ALL sailors need to be extra vigilant in maintaining separation.
I would agree that it may not have prudent to be in a seaway on the first night at sea, a foreign crew may assume you are a powered vessel if they see you, but it's all history now and Jessica has certainly learned from the experience.

Al P said...

Thanks Ms Jessica for the great update and your positive attitude will win over all tough times. As the Rev says, Tough Times Never Last But Tough People Do.

You will be underway soon, take care and best always.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you are safe. i have been racking my brain trying to figure out what happened with the tanker. if all your warning systems where on then how was it you werent notified of the on coming tanker? perhaps a wiring problem or power outage? i know the rules of the sea and you had the right of way under sail. but still why didnt they see you or you them? a clear night calm seas and all the electronics available to you? just does not make sense.
i know you cant say much until after the investigation but it will sure be interesting to see what transpired. good to hear you will be on your way soon. maybe you were sleeping and did not hear the warning signs? at least you were not hurt.
sail safe and look forward to the up dates.

Curtis From Canada

Earth Waratah said...

It's good to see you getting out there and doing something that is challenging and positive.

Go get em!

Tammy Lorna said...

Good on you Jessica. It's great to know you can keep a cool head when things get dicey.
Looking forward to hearing about your plans to set out again :)

-Tammy
Daisy Hill, QLD

Anonymous said...

Ok, determined lady! Keep your spirits up and do this thing.

Thank God you have a terrific team. Here is a poem/prayer that I rely on.

DON'T QUIT

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if you must but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
as everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won if he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow-
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than it seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up when he might have captured the victor's cup; and he learned too late when the night came down how close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out- the silver tint of the clouds of doubt, and you never can tell how close you are, it may be near when it seems afar; so stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. Its when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

Karen G form California

Jo said...

You go girl. Cant wait to keep track of your travels. Dont listen to the negative stories. Good Luck and best wishes.
Jo

Anonymous said...

Jessica,
Great to hear your keeping a positive mindset. You're an inspiration to people our age. Good luck with the repairs and I hope to see you back on the water soon. Keep your chin up, your an amazing person.
Benn (17) from North QLD

dave said...

Well done Jessica, just finished reading a book about a 28 foot yacht single handed sailing from Brisbane to Lizard island. He dodged a few 'big' boats as well. You arent the first and will not be the last. If we hid from adventure and testing ourselves we would still be in caves.

Look forward to the next 8-9 months off your journey.

MPCEE said...

Positive mental attitude; you're a very gutsy and determined girl.

As long as your log shows that you were on watch at the time, let whatever legal proceedings take their course and get on with your job in hand.

You have a lot of support!

Martin
St Martin de RĂ©, France

Exploratoria said...

So glad you are safe. Stay on target, you are going to be fine and the record will be yours! And even if that changes, too, someday, remember: no one can take away from you all what you have danced. It's an old saying. Good luck and stay courageous and determined!

trentgs said...

Hello from Savannah,Ga I sent you a small Bible for your journey on Tuesday afternoon and learned about the incident later in the evening. Prayers to cover you as you sojourn. You're an inspiration to many.

You are in our prayers in Savannah,Ga and will continue as you cruise the globe!

Blessings

Gary & Jan Trent
Savannah,Ga

i14skiff said...

Hi Jess,
Is your vessel fitted with AIS? If not you should get it! An perhaps get someone to show you how to use zone alarms.You might not be so luck next time. Fair winds and following seas. Good Luck Simon

jan said...

Typical that there is never that much fuss when a 16 year old girl gets hit by a car on the way to school.
It's safer these days to be at sea :-)

Yann

barry said...

Jessie, Fair sailing and hope your adventure goes without any probs, good luck

Anonymous said...

Hi jess, I think your a great role moddle and that you should never give up i love wat your doing and hope it goes well yours cazz dog:P