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Jessica Watson: True Spirit

On May 15, 2010, after 210 days at sea and more than 22,000 nautical miles, 16-year-old Jessica Watson sailed her 33-foot boat back to land. She’d done it: she was the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted, and nonstop around the world. Check out our exclusive Q&A with Jessica and find out more about her new book, True Spirit!


Kidzworld Q&A With Jessica Watson

Kidzworld: When and why did you decide you wanted to be the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted?


Jessica: I grew up with a pretty adventurous family, living on a boat and doing a lot of travelling but the thing that first made me think of sailing around the world was Mum reading me Jesse Martins book about his solo around the world voyage when I was 11. That’s what gave me the idea.


Kidzworld: How did you prep for your journey?


Jessica: I spent years gaining the experience I needed, crewing on yachts and hanging around boats. Then my amazing team, family and I spent months working full time to refit Ella’s Pink Lady and get her ready.


Kidzworld: How much food/equipment/supplies do you need to take with you on such a trip? How does it all fit on one boat?!


Jessica: Because the voyage was non-stop and unassisted everything I needed and all the food for the 210 days had to come with me - yes it all fits in Ella’s Pink Lady!


Kidzworld: Did you ever get bored being by yourself all the time?


Jessica: I can’t say that I ever got bored. There was always something to do whether it was sailing the boat, emailing or calling home, reading or keeping up with chores.


Kidzworld: Were you ever afraid or scared?


Jessica: Yes there were definitely the moments out there!


Kidzworld: How were you able to blog from sea?


Jessica: I was really lucky to not only have a satellite phone on board, but also satellite internet which enabled me to send blogs, emails and videos from out at sea.


Kidzworld: What’s the very first thing you did when you got home?


Jessica: It was all a bit of a blur! To start with there was a lot of hugging then that night. After a get together with family and friends my sister ran me a lovely hot bath!


Kidzworld: Is your new book, True Spirit, the true story of your journey?


Jessica: I’m really proud of True Spirit which is all in my words because it tells the whole story. Not just of the time while I was at sea, but also all the preparation beforehand which is such a big part of the story.


Kidzworld: What would you say to other kids who have big dreams they’d like to achieve?


Jessica: Stick at it, show everyone how serious you are about it! You don’t have to be anyone special to achieve something amazing, you’ve just got to work hard for it.


Kidzworld: What’s your next challenge going to be?


Jessica: Writing True Spirit was a challenge in itself and for the next while I’ve plenty to keep me busy with lots of travelling coming up, finishing school and learning to drive. After that I’m going to see where sailing takes me, I’ve got a very long list of challenges and adventures to look forward to.


True Spirit Book Review

Jessica WatsonTrue Spirit

Blog posts, planning and prep details and tons of other “insider” info in Jessica Watson’s new book, True Spirit, you can get a glimpse into what she experienced sailing around the world solo at 16. We loved the book, and found Jessica’s ability and determination to make her dream come true to be really great inspiration!


The book includes a rally helpful glossary of sailing terms (phew, cause we’re not experts!), plus a really interesting and very detailed list of items Jessica took on board for her journey – everything from food to fuel quantities!


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(So i just started this story today and i spent a good amount of time on it. Here it is and it's long. It's bad too. Forgive me.)             I am a woman. Some call me a little girl. But I am 15 years of age. I have survived my whole life down in the tank with no family other than the other woman that accompanies me. I don’t know where they are. I only know that my mother is dead. That she killed herself. Because she couldn’t stand the tank, a place with rust growing on the steel metal walls, a place where the only comfort you get is in #### #### on the cold metal floor. A place where my mother had died, a place I call home. It’s where all the woman of the United States lives now. The president declared a new law that woman where of no use except for reproduction, just when I was a baby.         They usually killed the child if it was a girl. But a few are chosen to live in the tank for the circumstances needed. My mother said she would never love another man other than my father. The day they killed him right in front of her was the day she joined him in heaven. I don’t know where my brothers are, probably living the luxury of being a man. Which is very unfair but, I hope their okay. Now my family is Shira and Gretna. Shira is my age and she is practically my sister. Gretna is the oldest woman in the tank and everybody respects her. Some call her big mama. She sure was big but, I prefer to call her Gretna. She was beautiful though. He dark skin made her eyes look dazzling. I’m pretty sure before all her hair got cut of it was long and curly. Everyone’s hair was cut off in the tank. Mine was at its fullest peek. My bangs grew in and it flowed down from their into a short v at my neck. Was it a Pixie cut they used to call it? Everyone’s hair got shaved every four years. Shiras hair grew fast and it stopped at her chin in a short line. It was a pale blond, almost white.          Every morning I wake up I start to hum a melody. My mother had sung a song to me at night. Now I sing it in the morning. Everyone else joins in to after the first verse Hear the birds crow, feel the sun rays, watch the trees grow, sing on rainy days. Then soon as I walk out of my cell everyone starts humming and some sing alone with me. It’s a ritual for my mother. When I first started singing it everyone was afraid they would get whipped or beaten. But the guards didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I’m willing to bet they enjoy it. The second verse is even prettier See the blue skies, feel the breeze, watch the leaves fly, sing the melody. I always sing it to myself at night, alone. It makes feel better like I might, just might, go above ground and see the world. Look at the stars, and close your eyes, imagine you will go far, and sing good night. That was the end of the song and by the time it ends everybody is eating.        They barley give us enough food. It’s a pain to see the parents giving up their food to the children. Sometimes I give food from mine to the small children and the elderly. Today it was just beans and bread. I gave my bread to Gretna, she looked like she needed it. “Honey, you really didn’t have to. I should be giving you my food.” I shook my head upset by the idea of that. “Gretna, honestly you need it. If you passed away I don’t know what I would do. Nobody would know what to do.” Her face softened and that sweet smile of hers formed onto her face. “Mira, I’m an old woman. I can’t do anything really. I’m useless. What do you need me for?” Just as I was about to answer a plate plopped down next to me. Shira sat down a frown plastered on her face. “That’s what all the men are saying is. Their opinion is bias, wrong, despicable, stupid, and irrational, so therefore saying. We defiantly need you big mama.” Gretna grinned and said “You girls are too sweet to me.”       After breakfast we all move towards the work area. We all just clean dishes, wash clothes, mop floors. Men thought this is what woman should do. It completely broke my heart. There were smart intelligent woman here. All of them had a good heart. Not one complaint. I’m not saying all men are bad. There are defiantly good ones. But it’s just the council. I don’t know why they think that this is okay. All of this is not okay. Nothing is. My job is mainly clean dishes. Sometimes I help Allie and Wanda with their washing. They aren’t strong enough to carry their load. The guards don’t mind. After the huge switch, the new guards are much nicer. It’s been more peaceful. As I finish washing my last dish I scan the room looking at all the others. It’s weird when I spot a guard staring at me. He looked away quickly and I frowned. I walked over to Shira and whispered in her ear “Creepy guard was staring at me. Can you come with me to get more dishes?” Shira knew that this was important. I saw it in her eyes. Before the switch of guards some had taken advantage of the woman here. Hearing about it made me terrified for the weaker ones, also for me. Shira put her mop in a corner and we started making our way toward the eating area. The walls where dark brown and covered in dust. There where railings along the walk way so we wouldn’t fall.            The work room was high above the eating area and a thin staircase descended down. The eating area was right in the middle. All the cell’s squared around it and it kept going like that upward. Me and Shira went toward the dirty dish table and picked up a few. “Thank you.” I said to her. The load looked heavy. She gave me a smile. As I turned around the guard staring at me earlier was right there. My eyes went wide and I stared back. Shira saw and she stared at the guard eye’s narrowed. He looked young, maybe 18. His hair was a light brown color and he had a strong build. He had a scar across his cheek and you could see his mussels poking out of his uniform.  He could defiantly hurt me. “Please. Don’t come any closer.” I said still staring. “I won’t.” his voice was low and clear. He could be as loud as he wanted and you could still hear him through the whole tank. “What do you want…sir” Shira said. It seemed like it was a pain for her to add in sir. It was for me too. “Please, call me Austin. I…I just wanted to check on you girls.” He looked at me and his stare softened “Your name is Mira, right?” I blinked a bit shocked. The guards never took any time to remember our name. They mostly called us you or Tyrant. I gulped down my nerves and said “Yes.” Clearly. Austin looked close to tears and asked “And your mother?”          I froze. “She’s dead.” I said as quick as I could. I was surprised that barely escaped my mouth. His face dropped and a frown replaced his smile. “Mira. I’m….I’m sorry to hear that.” I narrowed my eyes confused. “It’s alright. Why are you asking me these questions?” He paused. He blinked, then finally said “Just curious.”  I  looked over at Shira and she was just as curious as I was. “We should go.” Shira said and I nodded. I gave Austin a small smile as we walked past him and he smiled back. Once we were up the stairs and out of eye shot Shira stared at me. “Do you know who he is?” I gave a simple shake of the head. Shira looked ahead her eyes narrowed. “We should ask big mama.” I smiled and said “Yes. Good idea.” I looked at Shira and saw the sly smile on her face. “Although, He was cute.” I laughed at her and said “You think every guard here is cute.” Shira smiled too and said “Is that a bad thing? Being surround by tons of handsome young men? I mean at our age we could devour them up.” I almost smacked her on the arm, but I realized I had a big thing of dishes in my arms. Once we arrived at the work area I put my dishes at my sink and rushes up to Gretna. Shira followed knowing what I was thinking. “Gretna.” I said. She turned from her laundry mode and looked at us. “Where have you been? Now you got twice the work held out for ya!”         I wrinkled my nose knowing she was right and said “Fine. I’ll tell you about it in the showers.” Gretna raised an eyebrow and said “I hope I don’t see a dead body with the way you two look.” Shira laughed and I joined in.                                                                   *****         “So, he just asked you a bunch of questions?” Gretna said with a towel around her. Me and Shira just finished and we were in the clothes that were just washed from work hour. Shira nodded vigorously. “It was weird.” “He asked about my mom too.” I piped in. Gretna cocked her head back staring at us. “He seemed sad when I told him she was dead.” I said adding on. “Ignore it.” Gretna said quickly. I looked at her like she had two heads “Why?” Shira looked confused as well. This was not Gretna. “Nothing comes good with guards asking questions. Now go, let me shower in peace.” I looked at her hurt. Why wouldn’t she help me on this one? Why was she so dismissive? I heaved in a breath and left. The hot air was getting sticky on my clothes. I was not going to ignore it. I wanted to know, I needed to know.       I peeked outside looking for Austin. I couldn’t see his brown hair anywhere. So I walked out and rounded the corner. I heard a voice that was surely his, loud and deep. “Jason. It’s true. She’s dead.” Jason? Who’s Jason? “No. I…this is…” I'm assuming Jason was talking now. “Awful?” Austin finished. I didn’t understand. Were they talking about my mother? I was pretty sure they were. When I leaned over closer I felt a jab at my collar and I was tripped back. “What is wrong with you child! I told you to ignore it!” The two soldiers rounded the corner with their hands at their holsters. Their step was in union. They looked angry that someone was listening in on their conversation. Of course they were. Once they saw Gretna they calmed and looked at me. Austin sucked in a breath and Jason offered a hand to help me up. But so did Gretna. With how cross I was I got up on my own staring at them.            Gretna interfered and said “Sorry about that gentleman. I’ll take care of her and teach her…” She grabbed my arm and said right in my ear firm and scary “that it’s not polite to snoop.” A snap reaction made me do something I thought I would never do “Tell that to Austin.” I said my voice fowl. I expected a swat at the face or a firm yelling. But Austin replied “Sorry.” He looked at Gretna with a pleading look. All she did was shake her head. I threw my arm out of Gretna hold and gave all of them a look. I started to walk away and I saw that Jason kid was in tears.    (That's it! I'm still working on it.)
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