Lessons of the Bold

by Inga Yandell

Courage lies outside our comfort zone.

Age is not a factor of Adventure, Fear is—but not a limiting one!

The human need to explore runs deep, it rises from a driving instinct to know what is possible, what we are made of, what undiscovered potential lies beyond our fears.

Exploration not only expands our understanding of the world but of ourselves.

Since 1905 The Explorers Club has served as a meeting point for adventurous spirits—from it’s origins in New York city the multidisciplinary society now includes international chapters, most recently hosting an event in Melbourne.

‘An Evening of Adventure’ representing the first of an ongoing series of Australia & New Zealand Chapter of the Explorers Club (ANZEC) meetings, especially for Victorian Members. The guest speakers included two pioneering circumnavigators, Jessica Watson and Michael Smith.

BE Journal caught-up with Jessica and asked her about how adventure and exploration helped her circumnavigate fear and achieve bold new heights.

What excites you most about the topics and initiatives the Explorers Club support?

There’s something special and a little tricky to explain about bringing together a group of like-minded explorers. Of course, all the explorers club members are really interesting people, so the club is a sort of treasure trove of great stories and fascinating people. It’s the supportive and inspiring environment that I love most.

How has exploration influenced your awareness for nature?

I don’t think I’ve ever met an explorer that doesn’t have a great appreciation for nature and conservation. It’s impossible not to appreciate and want to protect our environment. It probably comes as no surprise that the ocean will always have a special meaning for me. I spent some time last year travelling with a group of young ocean conservationists from around the world, and while the challenges are huge, it is heartening to see that is at least a growing focus on our oceans and an appreciation of their importance.

With hindsight what one thing would you take on your next adventure?

I was really happy with just about all of the technical equipment onboard my boat and my supplies of important things like chocolate lasted well! Looking back, I suppose I would have taken more camera equipment, while I thought I had plenty I learnt that on a voyage like that you can never have enough. I wish I’d captured more of the day to day life of the voyage.

Top characteristics of a great explorer?

Over the years, I’ve constantly been surprised to realize that explorers are not the adrenalin junky risk takers that many people think they are. So many of the explorers I know are carefully considered, planning obsessed types. One of my mentor’s Don McIntyre introduced me to the term ‘responsible risk taking’, and I think it’s an idea that does a great job of explaining the approach that most explorers take.

What’s your next great adventure?

These day’s I’ve taken on a few challenges that see me spending a lot of time behind my desk. I’m finishing an MBA this year and working on a book for young adults that will be published early next year. Other challenges like my role as a youth representative for the UN’s World Food Programme and as a partner in marine review website Deckee.com have also been keeping me busy. It’s been important for me to put myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in new ways.

I still love sailing as much as ever and enjoy sharing it with friends. Plan’s for my next voyage around the world, stopping at all the amazing places along the way this time, are also becoming clearer.

After 210 days at sea navigating some of the world’s most challenging oceans and surviving seven knockdowns, Jessica Watson sailed back into Sydney Harbour in May 2010. Age 16, she became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world. Watson sailed her vessel, Ella’s Pink Lady, across more than 20,000 nautical miles of ocean, including around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, surviving knockdowns, 10m high waves and winds of up to 70 knots.

She went from one adventure to the next, skippering the youngest crew ever to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in December 2011. They finished second in their category.

Watson was named the Australian Geographic Young Adventurer of the Year 2010, Young Australian of the Year 2011, and in 2012, she received an OAM (Order of Australia Medal).

Follow Jessica’s Adventures @ jessicawatson.com.au

Discover what the Explorer’s Club is all about @ anzec.org

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
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