This month’s death of 2 experienced sailors highlights the dangers inherent in yachting and the sheer insanity and utter inadvisability of Jessica Watson’s bid to sail solo around the world.
Many experienced yachties have added their voice to a growing chorus of experts, which includes Queensland’s Maritime Safety Bureau, saying that 16 years old is too inexperienced to embark on such an 11 month voyage.
I interviewed John Bertrand, the skipper of the yacht that won the America’s Cup in 1983, on the topic of whether my view of Jessica’s voyage was valid. A world champion and Olympic medallist, Mr. Bertrand represented Australia in five America’s Cups and two Olympic Games. He told me he could not sanction his own daughter doing the journey, and he expressed doubts about Jessica Watson’s physical strength and experience.
Other sources tell me that experienced yachties have contacted Jessica and advised her to get more experience before setting off. She refused.
Not only are there legitimate questions as to whether she has the cognitive and emotional maturity to handle such an arduous journey, but this sets a dangerous precedent which might encourage even younger people to try their hand.
A Dutch court put a stop to 13-year-old Dutch sailor Laura Dekker’s attempt to become the youngest person ever to sail around by taking temporary custody of her. My question now is: why has no one approached the Family Court or the Supreme Court of Queensland to grant an injunction preventing Jessica Watson from this madness?