Dutch Teen Wanting to Start World Cruise

Stan SillimanCorrespondent IIAugust 5, 2010

Laura Dekker wants to sail around the world… by herself, on her 26’ boat, Guppy. Laura is 14 and, until now, a Dutch court prevented her from launching.  Is this the nanny state overreaching?


We say let her sail, and her dad, Dick, doesn’t mind. He even encourages her, and for that reason, we will refrain from making any Dick Dekker jokes. Laura Dekker says, “I want simply to learn about the world and live freely.”


Her plan is to take two years to circumvent the world and when she is finished at 15, she will be the youngest ever to sail the world. “Since I was 10-years-old, I knew I wanted to sail around the world,” says Laura 


What does Mike Parham, a 17 year-old Brit and current youngest to sail round the world, in 9 months, say about this after he tackled 50’ waves, gale force winds and technical problems? “She better have the physical strength, the mental strength and the technical ability,” he said. “You know, can she strip an engine blindfolded, is she an electrician, is she a mechanic as well— because you can’t just be a sailor on a trip like this.”


Hey Mikey, wise up. She’s a Dutch girl. This kid was born to sail. She was born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand during a seven-year world trip. She had a yacht by the age of six and began sailing solo by the age of ten. Her dad is Dick Dekker.


Laura’s lawyer, Peter de Lange, said on Radio Netherlands, “the question is whether it is wrong to allow their child to indulge in her passion.”


Of course the nanny state deemed it wrong and put her under guardianship for two months. Laura says that will put a little kink in her plans, as she thought she might have to haul her boat to Portugal to launch because the weather in Holland when she planned initially to sail was prohibitive. Sailor Laura has thought this thing out.


But what about the loneliness and the school missing and the not seeing the tulip crop come in? Laura told Dutch television Jeugdjournal, “I will always be surrounded by other people who are on a journey like mine. I really think I will meet these people and make friends easily.”


See, Mr. Parham and you busybody Netherlands authorities, Dutch girls are friendly and others will gravitate to her course. We’ll even bet a few sailing journalists will be tagging along.


Don’t doubt this kid. When she sailed solo from Holland to England in very choppy waters at the age of 12, British authorities were hesitant to let her sail back by herself, but she convinced them.


She had more sailing knowledge than any of the Port bobbies questioning her and trying to detain her. In Holland, we like to call her moedig (brave, courageous) with lots of ingewanden (guts).


Does Holland want their children to be fraidy katten landrottens or kids with ingewanden? Have they forgotten their “Dutch East India Company” heritage?


The kid says she was born to sail and she’s qualified. Let her do this before she discovers boys and make-up. She wants to sea the world while seeing the world. We say laat haar zeil!


Actually, they did and she did. Laura has set sail and we wish her good winds, few storms and all the luck in the world.