Is 13-year-old Dutch girl too young to sail solo around the world?

Let me think. What was on my mind at age 13? Homework and boys and fitting in at school, probably.

Laura Dekker, a 13-year-old in the Netherlands, has bigger fish to fry. She wants to take on the world. In a sailboat. By herself.

She has her parents’ permission. Now she just needs the Dutch government’s.

The Dutch Council for Child Protection is in the process of asking for temporary custody of Laura to stop the trip, since her parents won’t. They’re concerned that this goal comes less from Laura’s own drive, and more from the need to please her divorced parents–especially her father, who is an expert sailor and the parent with whom she lives. The decision will be made on Friday by the Utrecht District Court.

I’m a bit torn. I’m so impressed by her adventurous spirit and want to cheer her on. But at the same time, I’m worried for her safety. At what age would it be okay for her to go? I’d be happier if she had an adult with her, but, of course, that defeats the purpose of a solo trip.

But if anyone has the background for a trip like this, Laura does. She spent her first four years on the ocean because her parents were on an around-the-world sail. She’s been sailing solo since she was six, and dreaming of her own around-the-world trip since she was ten.

If she wins her court case on Friday, Laura would start her two-year trip in September.