I was never planning to write about True Spirit.
I didn’t go into it ready to take notes. I was sick, tired, and holed up in bed. I just needed something fun and easy to watch. But it’s now three days later and I can’t stop thinking about it.
True Spirit is based on the true story of Jessica Watson (played by Teagan Croft) who, at 16 years old, became the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop, and unassisted around the world, in her boat named “Pink”.
In order to do this officially, the World Sailing Speed Record Council outlined that she must start from and return to the same point, cross all meridians of longitude, and cross the Equator. An enormous feat to say the least!
Jessica opted to detail her 210 day voyage via video log and, subsequently, wrote a book about her experience.
Jessica had to overcome significant challenges in order to complete this monumental event. First off, she was dyslexic. Circumnavigation requires proper knowledge of map-reading and mathematics. Jessica was often able to mitigate this issue by using colours to help her focus, but stress and fatigue could reverse that progress.
Jessica and her family faced immense public scrutiny over the plan to send a 16 year old out to sea in a tiny vessel for over half a year. Despite Jessica being trained, having a valid license, and her vessel complying with safety regulations, the government still tried to pass a bill that would halt her attempt.
Despite having access to a phone and computer for navigation purposes, Jessica struggled with the effects of 210 days of isolation. In fact, at one point during the journey, Jessica was cursed with zero wind, and spent days sitting in the middle of the ocean with nothing to do. No wind meant no sailing to be had. It was at this point that Jessica really felt the despair of her isolation.
It was very interesting to not only watch Jessica on her journey, but simultaneously see what was going on back home with Jessica’s family. They were keeping in touch with her and helping her with her navigation (along with her mentor, Ben Bryant (played by Cliff Curtis)), but they were also struggling daily with the reality of what Jessica was facing. They would have to sit back and wait to hear if Jessica made it through a storm alive.
I couldn’t imagine what that must have felt like.
I have a fascination with, and yet a healthy fear of, the ocean. I think anything less would be disrespectful to its magnificence. I appreciated how this film portrayed the many emotions of the sea. When Ben was beginning to mentor Jessica, something he said really resonated with me: “You’ve gotta learn to get along with mother nature. She doesn’t mean you any harm, she’s just doing her thing, and sometimes we get in the way.” I think this is something we should all keep in mind.
True Spirit is a family-friendly film that is incredibly inspirational and heartwarming, while also keeping you on the edge of your seat to see where the journey takes you next. Jessica Watson is undoubtedly my new hero.
Maybe True Spirit will give me the motivation to claw my way out of bed. Maybe I’ll finish my Neocitrin first. But if nothing else, let’s all remember what Jessica’s mother said: “Watch the sunsets, celebrate the milestones, and don’t forget to dance in the rain.”
True Spirit is available now on Netflix.