Judge blocks solo sailing attempt of 14-year-old
A Dutch judge has decided that strong-willed teenage sailor Laura Dekker will remain a ward of court at least until the end of the current schoolyear in July. For the time being, this puts the lid on 14-year-old Laura's attempt to become the youngest girl to sail the world alone.The Netherlands - Laura told Dutch TV earlier this week that she wants to finish her schoolyear anyway before setting off. Yet she said through a spokesperson that she is disappointed about the decision.
The national Child Protection Council had asked for the court supervision to be extended because it considers a solo journey across the seven seas too dangerous for the girl. The young sailor's father, himself an experienced yachtsman, approves of his daughter's plan. Her mother initially agreed, but later retraced her steps and expressed her concerns.
The court in the city of Utrecht earlier confirmed the Agency's reservations about Laura's adventurous plans and blocked her departure in August. The judge ordered the Child Protection Council and a child psychologist to investigate Laura en her parents. The outcome of this scrutiny failed to convince the judge that the journey would be safe. "There are insufficient guarantees for safety, and the arrangements for Laura's continued education are too vague. These factors constitute a threat to Laura's safety and to her development, which are sufficient grounds not to let her begin her trip," the judge said on Friday.
Laura's lawyer Peter de Lange is optimistic about meeting the court's objections, pointing out that they are practical in nature. "Laura will follow a First Aid course, gain extra sailing experience, and her ship will be fitted with even more equipment," De Lange said. Laura's team also suggested a second ship, manned by an experienced sailor, could accompany her along the entire journey.
The youngest girl to sail single-handedly around the world is Australian Jessica Watson. She is 16 and currently crossing the Pacific in an easterly direction, passing Fiji and Samoa.