Trailblazers: Reflections on adventure and sailing

Jessica Watson
Posted February 10 2016

Late last year I was lucky enough to spend some time at the maze of hidden treasures known as the Australian Museum. My visit coincided with the launch of Trailblazers, an exhibition featuring 50 of Australia’s greatest explorers and adventurers. The exhibition, as well as spending time with many of the living explorers featured, made me ponder the changing role of exploration and adventure.

Of course exploration is no longer necessary to discover and chart far flung corners of the earth, yet as demonstrated by the many modern explorers in the exhibition our desire to explore hasn’t waived. Why? Well, I stumbled across a pretty satisfying explanation in the form of words on the wall of the exhibition. The quote was from Tim Cope, one of the explorers featured in the exhibition, and it goes like this;

‘Exploration is no longer about planting flags on continents; it’s about the discovery of human wisdom and knowledge that you bring back to broaden the horizons of others. That’s why the meaning of explorations will never ceases to be important.’

Image: Jess Martin is an Australian sailor who in 1999 became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo, non-stop, and unassisted.

Believe it or not, I found myself particularly drawn to the oceans section of the exhibition, featuring historical sailors such as James Cook, William Bligh and Matthew Flinders, as well as more modern sailors and personal heroes such as Kay Cottee and Jesse Martin. This section of the exhibition made me consider modern sailing as a mode of adventure. I know many a sailor who doesn’t consider their hobby exploration; they see themselves as competitors.

Well, racing’s great, but for me it’s often just an excuse to spend time on the water, enjoying the beauty of waterways or oceans, and watching the waves for hours on end. My real love of sailing is the independence and simplicity you experience away from land. And of course I’m also drawn to the challenge, the hint of unknown possibilities, the adventure of sailing.

What do you think: is sailing an adventure, a mode of exploration? Jump on the Deckee forums and share your thoughts on adventure.

Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 Greatest Explorers runs at the Australian Museum until the 18th of July. It’s well worth a visit. Find out more here.

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