Skip to main content

Solo circumnavigator hits tough patch

As American teen Abby Sunderland heads out on her attempted solo circumnavigation, Australian Jessica Watson has come through her first real weather.

In winds that reached 65 knots, Watson's S&S 34, Ella's Pink Lady, was knocked down four times - once setting off her automatic EPIRB mounted under the dodger.

"Luckily I called in only a few minutes later before anyone could really start to panic. I was pretty annoyed at the stupid thing for going off and giving everyone such a scare!" the 16-year-old writes on her blog.

The knockdowns caused minor damage including bent tubing on the targa frame, some tears in the mainsail and a bent stanchion, writes Watson.

"The second [knockdown] was the most severe with the mast being pushed 180 degrees in to the water," she writes. "Actually pushed isn't the right word, it would be more accurate to say that Ella's Pink Lady was picked up, thrown down a wave, then forced under a mountain of breaking water and violently turned upside down."

Watson rounded Cape Horn Jan. 13. As of Jan. 25, Watson had been sailing 100 days and was past the halfway mark in her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. She was 1,500 nautical miles ahead of schedule, according to her Web site.

Read more on her blog.