One Tough Cookie: The Journey of a Dyslexic 16 year old, Jessica Watson, Sails Around the World

It’s not often, not often at all, when a fellow dyslexic (or anyone for that manner) gives me the chills when I hear about their journey. Or that it stays in my head throughout the day, constantly thinking, “Wow!!” But this journey isn’t one I would recommend, even for a seasoned adult.  It is one that would wrap up a lifetime of searching for answers in one good day, and certainly force you to grow up in one big wave. This is the journey of sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson.  Right now, she is somewhere Down Under in the deep blue ocean on her last stretch towards home of her six month journey around the world. She started out on October 17, 2009, determined to beat the record of Jesse Martin, the youngest to sail around the world unassisted. Monday, April 19, 2010 marked the sixth month into her journey of over 20,000 miles. 

She sails on a sponsored boat she named “Ella’s Pink Lady.” Another sponsor, Panasonic, is allowing her to video tape her journey and SatCom which allows her to communicate it back home via satellite. In the meantime, she has been journaling her experience almost bi weekly through blogging photos and stories to her website , and videos on Youtube , tweets on twitter , etc.

If the thought of this journey doesn’t give you white knuckles and make you want to hold your breath thinking about it, get this: Before she started her journey on a 10-day test run, she was broadsided by a huge 63,000 ton cargo vessel, the Silver Yang. The ship ripped her sail and broke her mast like a toothpick, sending it crashing down in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, ALONE! 

Imagine. It’s not as if you can turn on the porch light, look out to a lit street and identify the Mac Truck that hit your house and call for help.  You’re alone, you’re asleep, you’re 16, (maybe a little crazy), you’re in the middle of the ocean on a small boat, it’s 2:30 in the morning and suddenly you get hit by something of which you’re not sure of yet. You look out your porthole thinking, “What the heck!!” ‘Cause whatever it is, it’s so big you can’t see both ends to identify it. If you had the chance to yell at whoever hit you, they’re steering the boat from half a football field away and can’t hear you. When the cargo ship hit her, they didn’t even bother to stop, leaving her in the dust to survive on her own. 

Did I mention that she is 16?

The journey alone has been an inspiration but not without mixed reviews. Many think the parents are crazy for letting her go in the first place.  Many might sit alone on their boat after an encounter like that and think it’s a sign from God not to go on.

Or if you’re one tough cookie like Jessica Watson, you would be empowered by surviving such an encounter. An encounter with a 63,000 ton cargo vessel, an encounter with an ignorant public, or an encounter with a school system that doesn’t understand how to teach a multi-dimensional Freethinker, a Lion heart and spirit. 

What ails this teenager to take such a daring journey? Inspiration came from the book The 

Lionsheart about Jesse Martin’s journey and, (in the back of her mind), a bit of 

frustration with her thoughts of her future with dyslexia. Jessica Watson didn’t just 

wake up one day after being inspired by the book; she was already an avid sailor 

for years. Since she started, there has been a lot of media coverage about the ride 

and a lot of ignorance from the public. Like one idea, “How can she write when she 

has dyslexia?”

 Oh, you mean like how dyslexic authors Hans Christian Anderson, 

Agatha Christie, Earnest Hemingway, Steven Cannell, Fannie Flagg, Patricia Polacco, 

Debbie Macomber, Andrew Dornenburg, William Butler Yeats, Stacy Poulos, and 

author Mark Twain (just to name a few who managed to write books). For me, she is an 

inspiration. She reminds me of my youth, of not understanding my dyslexia yet being 

determined to follow my heart. 


 As I know, she (and others) wonder about her dyslexia and what future she might 

have. She was even quoted as saying, “I didn’t have anything going for me.” I can

understand the reason why one might feel this way. What she doesn’t realize now

(but hope she will in her last stretch home) is that she sails in the spirit of so many who 

have shared her frustration and succeeded. She is surrounded by them. 

A few more dyslexic names that came to mind when reading about 

this journey are explorers:  Inventor William Lear, inventors Orville & Wilbur 

Wright, aviator Charles Lindbergh, 19-year-old playwright Danielle Mullen, 

Arctic explorer Ann Bancroft and astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr.  She 

also has dyslexic neighbors: Managing Director of Parle Foods Australia, Anthony 

Parle (supplier of McDonalds Pickles), and singer, songwriter, and activist John Lennon. 

Oh, and the most famous building masterpiece in Australia which she is pictured sailing in front of. The Sydney Opera House was designed by Jørn Utzon, also dyslexic. 

These are your colleagues, Jessica Watson. You have a greater

 future than you could ever imagine.. starting with your motivation and sense of adventure. 

Harness your assets, and you have more than you know. 


 Go Jessica Watson, God Bless your journey.  

 Please join my FreeThinkers University, it would be my honor! You are an example of why 

 I am so passionate about producing Dyslexia TV and FreeThinkers University.

150 Famous dyslexics [] 

PS Jessica I need a "Notable Quote"

See Video Ten News - April 15th

By Stacy Poulos 

Dyslexia TV & FreeThinkers University

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