Around the World in 518 Days-
Laura Dekker Youngest Solo, Sails 27,000 Nautical Miles
I cannot imagine the mind and guts of a 16 year old girl who lives alone for virtually 518 days(her journey was interrupted at several points) and battles the sea as one of her many challenges.
Alone in a 38ft yacht named Guppy, she set off from St.Maaten in the Caribbean. Laura Dekker was born in the Netherlands, but she is unsure of whether she wants to return home. When she was fourteen, she wanted to sail solo around the world, but she was prevented from doing so by government agencies that tried to deter a teen at this age. School authorities claimed she should be in a classroom.
The Guinness Book of Records no longer has a category for the “youngest” claiming that by doing so, it will eliminate and discourage dangerous attempts by young people at various events or actions.
Laura told reporters that she was born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand. At the age of six, she sailed solo and by the age of ten, she was dreaming of sailing around the world.
In 2009, Laura ran away to St. Maarten to buy a boat. This seems more like a plan by her parents as most 14 year olds would not have the money to buy a vessel. In the same year, she started her solo world voyage as a fourteen year old and completed it when she was sixteen.
Her voyage was challenging with ripped sails and a near collision with two cargo ships. She learned to play the flute which she said was easier to handle than a guitar on the sea.
Other young women should be acknowledged: Abby Sunderland, a 16 year old U.S sailor, who was rescued in the Indian ocean on a similar attempt, and Jessica Watson of Australia, who at age 16, completed a 210 solo journey. Jessica was a few months older than Laura Dekker.
To all these women who have ‘fire’ in their belly for adventure, we salute you!