Solo Sailing Update: Laura Stays Home… For Now!

I wanted to post a quick update this morning on the story I wrote about yesterday regarding Dutch teenager Laura Dekker, who hoped to set sail in the days ahead on a solo circumnavigation attempt in order to break the record for the youngest person to sail around the world.

Apparently the Dutch courts ruled against Laura a short time ago, and the girl will now not be allowed to set out on her journey. The details are a bit sketchy at this point, but this story from the Associated Press says that the judges felt that risks were still way too high for a girl of her age to be sailing the oceans alone. They also granted the child protective services an extra month of supervision over Laura, extending their charge until August 1.

Laura has said, on more than one occasion, that she hopes to break the “youngest around” record, which was recently established by Jessica Watson, who sailed back home to Australia just three days shy of her 17th birthday. Considering that she is still just 14, she has a couple of years to achieve that record, although she had hoped to begin soon after completing several skills tests and purchasing a new, larger boat.

There is no indication that Abby Sunderland’s recent troubles in the Indian Ocean had any impact on the judge’s decision, but it is also hard to believe that they didn’t. The 16 year old was attempting to set a new record as well, when storms snapped her mast, stranding her in the middle of nowhere, and setting off a massive rescue attempt. There were even points when she was feared lost at sea.

For my part, I’m glad that they blocked Laura from leaving. I personally feel that 14 is far too young to be making this journey, no matter how many technical skills you have. She should take some time to build experience, both on and off the water, before getting ready, and then revisit the idea in a couple of years, when she is more mature. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Laura Dekker, and we’re like to get further updates on this in the weeks ahead.

Kraig Becker

2 thoughts on “Solo Sailing Update: Laura Stays Home… For Now!”

  1. Kraig, when you said yesterday that she ran away from home to buy a boat in the Caribbean, do you know if she had help from her parents?

    You know, I read something like that, a 14 year old running away from home to buy a boat in the Caribbean and sail around the world, and I can't help but think she's an absolute legend. Sure she's young, and sure she may not have the experience, but when the rest of the world (full-grown adults included) are sitting in front of TV's filling their mouths with artery-clogging food, you have to admire Laura's raw determination and spirit. Society breaks that spirit down pretty quickly.

    So I'm just wondering if someone is pushing her or whether this is mostly her doing.

  2. Todd: There were no indications that her dad had anything to do with her running away from home, although the suspicions were there. It's not easy for a 14-year old to buy an airline ticket without the help of an adult.

    I do agree with you that she displays a tenacity that is definitely admirable, and I definitely hope she can make the journey eventually. I just happen to think that she is way too young to go by herself now.

    I am a bit torn over these young kids doing these adventurous things. These activities are extremely dangerous, and it would be tragic if something were to happen to them. But on the other hand, I also agree that it is better than sitting on the couch playing video games and eating potato chips. I salute their desire to go out and explore the world, even if I wish they'd wait a few years to do it solo. If that makes sense? 🙂

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