Court to rule if teenager can sail solo around world

24th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

A 13-year-old girl wants to sail solo around the world for two years.

Utrecht – A 13-year-old girl and her parents are being taken to court by the council for child protection for wanting to take two years off school to sail solo around the world.

Laura Dekker who turns 14 before she sets off for her trip on 1 September plans to cross to the Carrbbean through the Canary islands, and then on to Australia before coming back via Sri Lanka, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

However, child protection officers have slammed Dekker’s parents for supporting her trip, and are asking that her parents no longer have guardianship over the girl.

The teenager is also under fire for missing out two years of school. Education in the Netherlands is compulsory till the age of 17. While the municipality does not object to parents who teach their children during world travels, Dekker’s plan to continue her education through self-study and emails is deemed as unacceptable.

The attendance officer of her home district in Duurstede also raised the question whether it is justified for someone of 13 to make such a trip and whether they are sufficiently able to assess risks.

The case will be ruled by Utrecht district court on Monday.

If the court rules in her favour, Dekker will be the youngest sailor to sail around the world.

Dekker, who was born on a boat in New Zealand, is an experienced sailor. Her parents, both avid sailors, have made a seven-year sailing trip around the world while the teenager has sailed across to England at the age of 10.

“It is a family disease. My parents were also avid sailors and I sailed on my own when I was 14," said Dekker’s father who supports her daughter’s plan.


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