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Dutch Teen Sets Sail

Just when you thought you were going to get a break from the much-ballyhooed teen circumnavigation debate, it’s about to rev up again. After recently being granted permission from Dutch courts to persue her dream of circumnavigating at the tender age of 14, Laura Dekker set sail from the Den Osse, Netherlands last Wednesday aboard her 38-ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz ketch, Guppy.

The solo sailor is seen here with her dog Spot – his companionship is the thing she anticipates missing most during her two-year cruise.

© 2010 Laura Dekker

While mainstream media blowhards and child-protection advocates will undoubtedly pontificate tirelessly on the irresponsibility of Laura’s cruise, we expect that the debate among sailors will be a lot less heated. After all, she is not attempting a nonstop, unassisted circuit via the Southern Ocean, as Australian Jessica Watson did (and American Abby Sunderland attempted), but a cruise primarily through the tropics — and via the Panama Canal rather than Cape Horn — with many stops along the way (as did American Zac Sunderland and others). And, as has been widely reported, Laura was born during a circumnavigation, and made her first solo offshore voyages at age 11 — across the English Channel and back.

Stay tuned, because this is a story we won’t hear the last of for many months to come. If Laura completes the trip within her planned two-year time frame, she will become the youngest person to have circumnavigated solo, by any route.

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