Jessica Watson, 16, sails on

Jessica Watson sailed through Sydney Heads (Australia) in mid-October,
she left family, friends and controversy in her wake. The 16-year-old’s
attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world
attracted plenty of critics, particularly after she collided with a cargo
ship before she even reached the official starting line.

But as Jessica approaches the halfway point in her 23,000 nautical mile
voyage, so far she has proved the doomsayers wrong. She has battled 44-knot
gales and five-metre ocean swells, but her boat and positive outlook have
remained intact. ”I’m having the time of my life,” she told the Herald.
”It has been much better than I ever expected. I’ve been really enjoying
myself much more than I thought.”

The ”very toughest” part of her journey was just making it to the start
line. ”Everything else I’ve been able to work through.” But she still has
to surmount the Everest of sailing – Cape Horn at the base of South America.
Her route has taken her north past Fiji and Samoa, crossing the equator and
rounding one of the Line Islands before turning due south into the Southern

She is now 750 nautical miles from the cape that divides the South Pacific
and South Atlantic, where the seas are among the most dangerous in the
world. Her circumnavigation is expected to take another four months.