Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.Helen Keller
15 year old Jessica Watson had a dream to sail solo around the world, non-stop and beat Jessie Martin’s youngest record in the process.
In the midst of her preparations, she was advised to get Don’s ‘Knock-Down’ DVD of his 1990 BOC Challenge solo circumnavigation. She called him and so began an interesting chapter in each of their lives.
Over the next six months, there were lengthy emails and conversations. Don had great confidence in her ability, but she needed a boat. Frustrated that no one would back her, Don knew that time was running out so he considered buying a boat for her to use. With that thought, for one brief moment while working in Antarctica, he worried about what would happen if Jess should die because of that. On the realisation of even thinking such thoughts, he rebounded with the instant decision to buy the boat, underwrite the cost of all the equipment to complete the voyage, launch her campaign with a professional media event and find her a manager to get started.
He had not even met Jessica. Now they were both involved! He put the idea to Jessica and she took a deep breath.
They finally met for a few hours in February 2009 as Jessica got off one yacht then set out training on another. Don travelled to Queensland to meet her parents and discuss what may happen. They were supportive, so he went ahead and bought that boat. The rest is history as they say.
Don could not be there to welcome her home, as he was drifting in his ‘Talisker Bounty Boat’ half way across the Pacific at the time. They are now firm friends, both respecting and admiring each other’s perspective on life.
Don supported her dream because of who she was and because of his ongoing desire to make the world realise that adventure is a good thing, especially in young people. The fact that Jessica was able to inspire tens of millions of young people around the world, makes this adventure one of the special moments in Don’s life.