My wife found a live streaming feed from Nine News in Australia, and none too soon. So I got to watch Jessica come in from an hour or two outside the "Heads" as the entrance to Sydney Harbor's headways is called, and then gradually make her way up to the dock next to the Sydney Opera House, followed by a very close-up camera shot of her first meeting with her parents and family and supporters, and then the big welcome home ceremony with the Prime Minister and the local provincial Premier all in attendance, among others. As she was walking toward the stage (and walking fairly well for someone who had just been at sea for 7 months), an older gentleman handed her an exact model replica of her sailboat with the sails unfurled, mounted on a very nice base, the whole thing looking like it was a good 12" or more tall. I thought that was an incredible gift from a total stranger. It was obvious throughout this entire time -- from the finish line to the end of the welcome home ceremony -- that she was, to say the least, very overwhelmed. All the attention and good wishes were very well deserved. There was an absolute flotilla of boats surrounding her as she made her way through Sydney Harbor. The zoomed-out view of all those boats making their way down the harbor, as shot from the helicopter overhead, was breathtaking. Two of the young men who previously did the same circumnavigation before Jessica, got to board her boat early on after the finish line and then ride with her the rest of the way through Sydney Harbor. Actually, one of them steered the boat which was now being powered by the engine once the sails were lowered, so she could enjoy the rest of the trip in from the finish line without having to drive the boat, which also allowed her to get herself somewhat cleaned up to meet the Prime Minister and everyone else. This was truly an amazing and historical thing to watch from start to finish! The only other thing I remember staying up all night to watch was the entirety of Princess Diana's funeral and service and drive back to where she was laid to rest in early September 1997. The historical significance of both that and this event (though starkly different in tone), felt similar to me in their historical significance, each in their own way, and in their emotional impact, also each in their own way. Jessica has inspired so very many people, and she has truly made Australia proud, and rightfully so.
I'm going to really miss checking in on her blog and voyage map every day as I have been doing ever since wagga first began this thread. Wagga ... thanks!
If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)