I am fascinated with the story of Laura Dekker.
She's the 14-year-old Dutch girl who wants to sail around the world solo. If successful she would be the youngest person in the world to accomplish the feat. Earlier this year, a 17-year-old British sailor named Michael Perham became the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
Dekker's father supports his daughter's ambition. The only thing standing in her way is the Dutch government. The local authorities petitioned a Dutch family court and obtained joint custody of Dekker. This joint custody is to last until July 2010.
But Dekker became restless and ran away from home several days ago. She withdrew a large amount of money and somehow found her way to Saint Martin in the Caribbean. Dekker was returned to The Netherlands with a police escort. Authorities will now investigate how she managed the leave the country.
Under normal circumstances, the idea of a 14-year-old girl sailing around the world would be sheer lunacy. But Laura Dekker is no ordinary 14-year-old girl. She was born at sea and probably knows more about the sea than some merchant marines. Dekker has been sailing boats since she was six. While other little girls played with dolls she filled out log books.
Yes, there are risks to sailing around the world solo. But she would know that better than most. It's not a question of if she is going to do this but when. The sea is in her blood. I think the Dutch government should get out of her way and let her set sail.
One must suspect that one of the reasons the Dutch authorities are so adamantly opposed to her undertaking his venture is because she is a girl though they would be loathe to admit it. If Dekker was a boy I don't think there would be anywhere the fanfare. It was certainly not the case with either Perham or Zac Sunderland, an American who also successfully sailed around the world solo alos at age 17.
It is also worth noting that Dekker isn't the only girl who wants to sail around the world solo. Australian Jessica Watson began her trek in October and has been at sea for 53 days as of this writing. If she is successful, she will eclipse Sunderland's record. But that might be shortlived. Sunderland's younger sister Abby will soon embark on her solo voyage around the world. The authorities in Australia have not thwarted Watson nor have the authorities out in California tried to thwart Sunderland.
As for Laura Dekker, she does still have time on her side even if her patience is in short supply and her restlessness is abundant. But if Dekker succeeds in becoming the youngest person to sail around the world solo the same local government that tried to stop her will tell the world she is their favorite daughter.