Cool Girl: Jessica Watson, 16, Solo Sailor

Jessica Watson, 16, is the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world (that’s her on her boat, Ella’s Pink Lady). She’s from Australia, she finished her trip in May, and she wrote a book about her epic voyage,True Spirit. The book takes readers on the adventure with her — through gale-force winds, mountainous seas, hazardous icebergs and extreme loneliness on a vast sea.
So, you know, she’s kind of a badass. And we got to talk to her!

I Heart Daily: What made you want to sail around the world?
Jessica Watson: I grew up with a pretty adventurous family, living on a boat and doing a lot of travelling. The thing that first made me think of sailing around the world was when Mum read me Jesse Martin’s book about his solo voyage around the world when I was 11, that’s what gave me the idea.

IHD: How did you prepare for the journey?
JW: 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 and get Ella’s Pink Lady ready.

IHD: Did you have a favorite day, or small moment, at sea?
JW: There were so many: Perfect days sailing in the tropics, surfing down big waves on wild nights or taking in amazing sunsets. Sunsets were a big thing for me, every night I made sure I took the time to stop of a few minutes to enjoy it. There were some incredible ones!

IHD: What was the biggest challenge you faced, and how did you handle it?
JW: One of the biggest challenges was just getting the project started. As a 13-year-old girl it’s not easy to get the support you need to sail around the would. Then out at sea there were definitely some tough days like that night in the Atlantic when we were knocked down (the boat was turned upside down) four times. Knowing that I had a really tough boat around me helped a lot and when things were really hard I’d tell myself, the boys did this, so can you! It always worked!

IHD: What’s your advice to girls who have a big dream like this?
JW: Stick with it — show everyone how serious you are about it!

Yeah, what she said. Keep up with Jessica on her blog.