By age 16, I had delivered newspapers on a bicycle that I also rode one mile to school. Here is a girl who at the same age just sailed solo around the world. And she had to fight the Dutch authorities in the courts to do it. Ah me. We all lead such varied lives…Here first is the AP story:

Laura Dekker, 16, sailed into St. Maarten harbor on Saturday, January 21st, completing a 27,000 mile round-the-world voyage in a 38-foot yacht called “Guppy”. The Dutch teen broke an unofficial record set in 2010 by Australian teenager Jessica Watson. Dekker turned 16 during the trip, but she won’t garner any recognition for her groundbreaking voyage from The Guinness World Records, which doesn’t acknowledge records for “youngest” sailors. Dekker, who claims she was born on a boat and started dreaming about circumnavigating the globe when she was ten, caused a controversy amongst the Dutch government several years ago when she announced plans for her journey. Dutch officials tried to interfere, claiming she was too young, while educational authorities complained she should be in school.

Laura Dekker is just a kid...with a passion

I wrote about the start of Laura’s Voyage a year ago. Now here is the current, more detailed Guardian story by Emine Saner:

What do you do when you fulfill your life’s ambition at the age of 16? Laura Dekker, the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly, arrived at the Caribbean island of St Maarten on Saturday to a rapturous welcome and a relieved family. While we wait to hear what does next, we celebrate her life so far.

She was born to sail

Her Dutch parents were living on a yacht in a port in New Zealand when Dekker was born and she was six when she first sailed solo. At eight, she decided her dream was to sail around the world, and, aged just 13, Dekker sailed solo from the Netherlands to England and back—a trip her father had hoped would “cure her wanderlust”, according to her website. Her mother has said “she sails like a devil”, while her grandfather says “she’s a stoic. She will keep a cool head in the most extreme of situations.”

She is good with cockroaches

She took on six-metre-high waves and extreme weather—on one occasion, heading in to the Cape of Good Hope, her storm jib (a sail used in storms) got jammed and she finally managed to take it down in the early hours of the morning. Another of her sails ripped completely during the voyage. She slept on a damp bed and lived on rice and pasta, with cookies and pancakes as an occasional treat. She dodged near-collisions with cargo ships, and worried about pirates. Not in the least squeamish, she had to rescue live flying fish that had flung themselves into her cabin, and scrub the stinking remains of decomposing squid from the deck. She survived weeks at sea with no company—except for the ants and cockroaches that had stowed away in her cabin. On top of all that, she had to do schoolwork.

She is determined

All of the above was nothing compared to the battle she faced against the Dutch authorities before she set off. Read the rest of this entry »

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