Solo world sailor may settle in New Zealand

25th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Laura Dekker, the 13-year-old teenager, who wants to sail around the world solo, has asked to be scrapped from the register of her Dutch hometown, says her lawyer.

Utrecht – Thirteen-year-old Laura Dekker who wants to pursue her dream of becoming the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo is prepared to settle in New Zealand should the Dutch court rob her of her dream on Friday.

On Monday, Dutch child protection agents urged a court to strip Dekker’s' parents, who support their daughter’s plans, of parental rights and have her declared a ward of the court to stop the girl from setting sail.

A children's judge in Utrecht in the central Netherlands was expected to issue a verdict on Friday.

"It means that her parents will temporarily lose the right to make any decisions concerning their child," court spokesman Paul van Daalen told AFP.

Laura and her father Dick Dekker were present for the hearing behind closed doors, he said.

Meanwhile, Dekker has requested to be scrapped from the register of her hometown, Wijk bij Duurstede, said her lawyer on public TV.

Born on a yacht off the New Zealand coast during a seven-year world trip by her parents, Dekker holds three passports; in addition to being Dutch, she is also a New-Zealand and a German national.

Dekker’s plans to sail around the world and skip school for two years have been objected by local authorities who deem it inappropriate that a girl of her age can undertake risks at sea and continue her education through emails and occasional phone calls.

The slender, blonde girl who reportedly lives with her father on a yacht in the central Netherlands, hopes to achieve this feat in two years and continue her schooling through internet correspondence.

"Since I was 10 years old, I've known that I would like to sail around the world," she has told Dutch television. "I want simply to learn about the world and to live freely."

Her father approached authorities in July for an exemption for Laura from obligatory schooling. The request was refused.

In a recent written report to parliament, education deputy minister Marja van Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart said "a solo voyage around the world would not be in the best interests of the child".

Newspapers report that Laura got her first yacht at the age of six and spent the summer of her eleventh year sailing for seven weeks on her own.

"We realise that it is a dangerous undertaking," Dick Dekker has told the Gelderlander local newspaper.

"But a court which knows nothing about Laura will decide. We would not let our child do something of which she was not in complete control."

Radio Netherlands / AFP / Expatica

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