Laura Dekker Cleared to Solo Circumnavigate

Laura Dekker lives in the Netherlands and wants to sail around the world – solo and now.  She’s 14. Dekker was born at sea on her parent’s boat and has wanted to sail her Jeanneau 38, Guppy, solo around the world – a desire that launched Dutc...

3rd August 2010.
By Zuzana Prochazka

Laura Dekker lives in the Netherlands and wants to sail around the world – solo and now.  She’s 14.

Dekker was born at sea on her parent’s boat and has wanted to sail her Jeanneau 38, Guppy, solo around the world – a desire that launched Dutch child protection services into action last year.  The court placed Laura under a guardianship so she couldn’t go.  She in turn ran away to the Caribbean where she hoped to procure a boat.  She was found and returned home. 

Laura hopes to be the youngest to circumnavigate, taking two years and returning in 2012 at the age of 17.  Since she’s planning on two years, it’s clear she’d be doing it with stops, unlike Abbey Sunderland who attempted the circumnavigation initially, as a non-stop adventure. 

She was granted permission by the courts to depart on her journey.  Her parents are separated – her father is in support of the trip and her mother, although originally opposed, has given her blessing.  The couple has two other daughters. 

OK, so before everyone gets on YouTube with their ideas on perfect parenting like they did with Abbey, let me just say two things:

1) I am happy that this decision no longer rests with the court and has been given back to the parents. 
2) I am dismayed that the measure of accomplishment here continues to be age.  This trend to the youngest anything, is unhealthy. 

I’m not saying I condone the parents’ decision.  I’m not saying I’d let a child of mine do this.  I am saying that it should not be a matter of legality.  Also, when is young too young?  I wonder if we could come up with another measure of accomplishment for adventurous young minds. 


About the author:

Zuzana Prochazka

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Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.
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