Laura Dekker Sets Sail

| August 5, 2010 | 2 Comments

After a year of court battles, 14-year old Dutch teenager Laura Dekker has set sail after being given approval by the Dutch government last week to begin her journey. When Ms. Dekker announced her plans last year, at age 13, the Dutch child protective services stepped in and placed her under the guardianship of social workers, declaring her unfit to sail.

The public hasn’t exactly been enthusiastic about the announcement. Gary Jobson, the president of US Sailing, the organization governing sailing in the United States, said this in an article published in Connecticut-based Soundings Magazine:

“I think sending a 14-year-old daughter – as a father of three daughters – is completely irresponsible,” … “She can’t possibly have the experience to do this. We’ve learned from Abby Sunderland that lots of things can happen.”

In my opinion, he’s exactly right. Abby Sunderland was a girl, barring all controversy, who had an extensive knowledge of sailing and boating. She made it more than halfway around the world when something that no one could have possibly predicted happened: the weather. She showed us that even someone with a huge amount of experience and skill can be brought down by unpredictable weather conditions. Anything can happen when you’re at the mercy of the ocean.

Laura was born off the coast of New Zealand on the family boat when her parents were sailing around the world. While she may have a considerable amount of skills, she has also shown us her impulsiveness. In December, she ran away from home in the Netherlands to the Bahamas, where she planned to buy a boat.

She is currently sailing with her dad, Dick, to Portugal, where she will begin her journey after a final round of testing and preparations. According to a report in the Telegraph (UK), Dekker has “shrugged off warnings from NATO commanders about piracy off the Horn of Africa and hoisted the black Jolly Roger of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as she set sail.”

The world will be watching her, and all we can do is hope for the best.

Taylor Michie is a 14-year old Annapolis resident and author of the sailing novella Racing Winds. Taylor is a sailor himself, sailing 420s in Annapolis. He is a Volvo Ocean Race fanatic, but enjoys other round-the-world sailing races like the Velux 5 Oceans and the Clipper Round the World Race. Taylor’s work has been featured in Soundings Magazine, The Capital, and, most notably, the Volvo Ocean Race in Boston, MA. Taylor was awarded the US Sailor of the Week in May 2009 by US Sailing. He is currently working on his second book, Whitecaps, and his environmental work through his charity, Racing Winds GreenBooks.

You can find Racing Winds on the web at www.racingwinds.com, where you can buy the book, and learn more about Taylor, his book, and his campaigns. You can also follow Racing Winds on Twitter, by visiting www.twitter.com/racingwinds, and on Facebook by searching “Racing Winds.”

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Category: Boating, NEWS

About the Author ()

A 14-year old author of a sailing novel, Racing Winds, high school student, and Eye on Annapolis contributor.