Dutch teen denied chance to solo circumnavigate the globe, for now

A few months back we posted a story about 13-year old Laura Dekker, who was hoping to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. At the time, the Dutch government stepped in to prevent her from making the journey by placing her under the care of child protection authorities while they reviewed her qualifications to make such a journey. Yesterday, a judge ruled that they felt that she lacked the experience necessary for circumnavigating the globe, and that Laura should remain under the supervision of the Council of Child Protection for the foreseeable future.

The decision isn’t a total loss for the now 14-year old girl. Her case will come up for review again next July, when it is quite possible they will rule in her favor and allow her to set out on the voyage. In the meantime, she’ll work hard to polish her skills under the tutelage of her father, who is an expert sailor himself. The judge also said that they felt that the teen was mentally prepared for the trip, but that they still had concerns about security and safety issues.

Laura’s parents are separated and seem to be split on the young girl’s adventure as well. Her father feels that she is more than prepared for the months at sea alone, but her mom has her doubts, and has gone on record as saying that she is too young to set out on her own.

This is just the latest in a growing trend of teens embarking on dangerous adventures so that they can claim the right to be called the youngest to have achieved one goal or another. Personally, I applaud the Dutch Government for taking a stand on this issue. While Laura may very well have the technical abilities necessary for long distance sailing, that doesn’t mean that she has the life experience necessary to deal with all the potential adversity she could face while at sea. Besides, if she just wants to make the journey, and it isn’t about achieving some record, then where is the harm in waiting a few more years? Does anyone else think that it’s wrong for someone this age to set out on such a dangerous voyage?