There are few "ultimate challenges" in this world. Climbing Mount Everest is one of them. Sailing around the world is another. Earlier this week the latter became the latest ultimate challenge for one brave sixteen-year-old girl.
On October 18, Jessica Watson set sail from Sydney Harbour, Australia aboard her bright pink yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, in the hopes of becoming the youngest person ever to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted, around the world. Small boats and kayaks sailed alongside her and news helicopters flew overhead, broadcasting her departure.
The world record currently belongs to Australian Jesse Martin. Jesse was just 18 when he sailed around the world in 1999. Jessica says Jesse is her role model and inspiration. She also says she's looking forward to "crushing" his record!
The entire trip, Jessica expects, will take eight months (she is due home on May 18, 2010, the day before her seventeenth birthday!). To make it a legit "trip around the world," and one for the history books, Jessica says, the 23,600 mile trip must follow a few rules.
"I must depart and arrive from the same port," Jessica explains on her website, "cross all lines of longitude, cross the equator entering into the Northern Hemisphere at least once, and round the southern landmarks of South America and South Africa." By doing so, Jessica will have sailed past New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Africa and South America.
This is no simple pleasure cruise, that's for sure. And luckily, Jessica is an experienced and skilled sailor. In the eight months she's at sea, Ella's Pink Lady will journey through some very rough waters and Jessica is certain to meet up with unpredictable, stormy weather. Her family has assured everyone – including the Australian government, who had doubts about letting Jessica go – she's capable of handling the vessel no matter what.
And Jessica is sailing with the latest in high-tech equipment on board. She will be in constant communication with her parents and her support team through e-mail and video chat.
I can eat whatever I like, whenever I like, no one to send me off to bed! That's what Jessica blogged her first full day at sea. She also wrote about the dolphins that swam by to pay her a visit and the beautiful shade of pink the sky turned at sundown. Then she ate some sweet and sour lamb, some pancakes, and called it a night.
Follow Jessica's journey aboard Ella's Pink Lady at http://www.youngestround.blogspot.com/.