Sunday, May 16, 2010

Off topic but family related

This post has nothing to do with books, although a book will be published later this year. Rather it is a very proud family related moment so I am going to mention it. Besides it's not every day that I have a family member who walks (or in this case sails) into the world record books.

For those of my readers from Australia and New Zealand, you will of course know who Jessica Watson is (see photo above). Just 2 days ago Jessica sailed into the record & history books by being the YOUNGEST person ever to sail (circumnavigate) the world (yes this entire planet) in a sail boat on her own and UNASSISTED. She is just 16 years old. Tomorrow (Australia time - May 18th) she turns 17.

BUT what none of you outside of my own family, will know, is that Jessica Watson is a distant cousin of mine. She is my second cousin once removed. Jessica's mother Julie is my second cousin. Julie's mother and my father are first cousins. And yes this is all true. This proud moment naturally fits my profile as a genealogy enthusiast (I am nuts about genealogy if you don't already know). Finally I can say that I have a famous relative!!!!

I grew up spending my summers visiting with and playing with Julie and her siblings in the 1960's and 1970's. We lost touch after 1976 when my family moved overseas. I dont recall that I personally have seen anyone from Julie's family since then. I know that my parents have seen Julie's parents regularly, and as recently as just last week right before they flew to Sydney to welcome Jessica home.

Anyway after I left home and moved to Auckland New Zealand and then later to Toronto, Canada, Julie and Roger were living in Queensland and had access to sailboats. Their 4 children grew up going out on the water on a regular basis. While I am somewhat comfortable on the water, I had very few opportunities to sail in any small sail boats as a child.

In October 2009 Jessica Watson left Sydney harbour (on her second attempt) to sail around the world with the intention of being the youngest person (as of 2010) to ever sail around the world unassisted.

UNASSISTED means a vessel may not receive any kind of outside help or take on board any supplies, materials or equipment during the attempt. Jessica can still be in radio contact with her support team every day, but she cannot stop anywhere along the way, no food is dropped to her and she has no company whatsoever. If anything breaks down, she has to fix it on her own and she carries all her food and water with her - 7 months worth of food and water.

Two days ago Jessica sailed back into Sydney harbour and was greeted by hundreds of thousands of proud Aussies as a hero. Jessica herself says she is no hero - she is just a girl who had a dream and did something about it.

Aussie's Youtube Channel

This Youtube channel has all 10 parts of the official TV program to welcome Jessica home. It was broadcast live on TV, May 15th, 2010. While the parts are not in any numerical order, they are all there.

Jessica has a book deal already in the works and the book is expected to be published before the end of 2010.

This is Jessica's Website & Blog

These are Roger and Julie Watson, Jessica's parents. (photo taken January 2010). They have 4 children - Emily, Jessica, Thomas and Hannah. Julie's maiden name was Chisholm. She is my second cousin.

Taken last year in Cromwell, New Zealand, this is Jessica Watson with her grandparents. From left to right are grandmother Margaret Chisholm, Jessica Watson, Jessica's aunt Wendy Taylor, and grandfather Gordon Chisholm. Wendy is my second cousin (as is her sister Julie). Margaret is my dad's first cousin. Margaret's dad and my grandfather were brothers. (photo source - ODT)

1 comment:

Marg said...

Wow I can understand why you sound so proud of this connection. Jess has achieved an amazing feat, and she seems very well spoken and very together!

I suspect we are going to hear a lot more about Jess over the next few years, as there is the book, and I believe that there is also going to be a documentary about her trip as well.