The Outside Online Blog has an interesting story about a 13-year old girl named Laura Dekker who was hoping to sail solo around the world, but has now been taken into temporary custody by the Council of Child Protection in Holland to prevent her from hitting the open seas.
According to the story, Laura’s parents fully support her goals and have a good understanding of the issues with long distance sailing. In fact, the girl was born aboard a boat while they were circumnavigating the globe, and she lived aboard a ship for the first four years of her life. But the Dutch Government feels like she doesn’t have the proper experience and skill set to survive alone on the ocean for months at a time, and have taken custody of her for her own safety.
Lately there has been plenty of young men and women who have been vying for the title of the youngest person to ever sail solo around the world. Recently, Zac Sunderland set the new mark, at the age of 17, but several others are gearing up to make their runs soon as well, including Zac’s own sister. The question is, when is it too young to go on such a dangerous journey?
Personally, I think 13-years old is too young. While I’m sure Laura is comfortable aboard a ship, and probably quote competent than I’ll ever be at sailing a ship, there are just certain things that a person that young is not quite equipped to handle just yet, not the least of which is the months alone at sea. The thoughts of pirates and other dangers are too scary to even think about really.
Hopefully her parents will think twice before sending her out, and I support the Dutch in making this move. She can still sail around the world in a few years time, so I say let her grow up first and she can have the adventures she wants down the line. After all, why send her out at 13 unless it really is about the “youngest” record?
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