A Dutch court put 13-year-old Laura Dekker under temporary supervision for two months, while social workers assess whether her father’s decision to let her sail around the world alone on her 26-foot boat Guppy puts her at enormous physical, emotional and psychological risk.
Laura’s proposed journey would make her the youngest sailor to circle the world in a sailboat. Dekker is determined to beat the record set in August by a 17-year-old UK boy.
Most child-development experts are opposed to Laura Dekker’s desire to be alone for two years at this stage of her life. The young woman said on a Dutch children’s news show this month that she had been sailing solo since age six and had been plotting her global voyage for three years. “I asked my parents if I could — please — start now,” she said, The Associated Press reported.
Earlier this year, Laura was picked up by British social workers when she was discovered sailing alone to the port of Lowestoft. via NYTimes: Setback in Dutch Girl’s Quest for Ambitious Voyage.
Laura Dekker is safe. St. Maarten police spokesman Ricardo Henson confirmed that the 14 year-old Dekker is on the island and efforts are underway to get her back to the Netherlands.
In running away, the young woman who has joint Dutch and New Zealand citizenship left a letter for her father, not yet revealed. Unconfirmed reports are that she withdrew $5,000 from a bank account before disappearing on Thursday. Authorities were informed of her disappearance on Friday.
In October a Netherlands court refused to grant the young sailor born on a yacht in New Zealand waters the right to embark on her trip to sale alone around the world. Her father backed the mission; her mother thought she was too young.
Judge Mirjam Oostendorp said that an investigation showed that Laura appeared emotionally, intellectually and physically fit for the challenge, Besides the physical hazards of sailing alone in physically challenging waters, experts ruled that Laura’s psychological development was not sufficient for her to be alone for so long.
The court in Utrecht ruled that Laura was under state supervision, but living with her father, until the end of her school year in July 2010.
As mentioned previously, the young woman is in a race against time to beat the record for the youngest lone circumnavigation of the world.
A young Australian girl, Jessica Watson 16, set off in October to beat the record now held by Brit MIke Perham.
We pick up Laura’s story in today’s RedTracker News: