Youngest person to circumnavigate the globe

  Forum Editor 00:18 22 Jan 2012

Laura Dekker has completed her solo sail around the globe, aged 16.

Here's her web site

It's an amazing achievement for one so young, and the more so for the way that Laura and her family had to battle the Dutch government, which tried to stop her from going on the grounds that it could "harm her emotional and social development".

It all left a bitter taste in her mouth, and she is apparently not sure that she wants to return to The Netherlands to live. I saw some footage of her being interviewed when she arrived in St Maarten harbour in the Caribbean,and she certainly didn't seem emotionally and socially harmed to me.

  WhiteTruckMan 09:13 22 Jan 2012

Good for her, it was a fantastic achievement. But would people have been so supportive after the fact had she been lost at sea, or kidnapped by pirates etc?

No-one would object if a 25 year old person tried to do this, but no sane person would permit a 2 year old to do this. So somewhere between a line must be drawn. And thats the sticking point, because the line cannot be fixed. I know some 16 year olds that I wouldn't trust to circumnavigate a trip to the corner shop for a tin of beans, let alone the globe.


  Forum Editor 10:30 22 Jan 2012


I think you've summed it up pretty well.

Laura has been sailing all her life - she was born on a boat - and is quite obviously capable of handling an ocean-going yacht. Most 16 year olds wouldn't be able to do it, or even want to do it.

We speak with pride of the past glories of the British navy, perhaps forgetting that in times past children as young as twelve were routinely sent to sea in leaky wooden vessels which sailed the oceans without the benefit of modern navigational and communication technology.

Most parents know their children pretty well, and Laura's knew that she had the necessary skills and mental strength to enable her to handle the boat and the inevitable mental stress that goes with being all alone on the ocean for many months. We can only speculate about how she would have coped with a real emergency. Her voyage ended happily it seems, although she quite obviously harbours a deep resentment for the way that her country's social welfare officials intervened to try to stop her going ahead. They attempted to get her removed from her father's care, and she says she can't forgive them for it.

  SimpleSimon1 10:54 22 Jan 2012

Well done for highlighting this, FE. I was about to do the same, with special reference to this thread from 2009 (Would You Let Your Daughter Do This). Interesting to read the then-thoughts of some of our leading 'opinionistas' (especially a certain WTM) with respect to her superb achievement, today.

Just goes to reinforce my belief that everyone is an individual and sweeping generalisation don't help anyone....of course, that could be viewed as a sweeping generalisation :-)

Anyway, congratulations to Laura...with that sort of determination, I think that she'll be a success at anything she decides to turn her hand to, in the future.

  Bingalau 11:03 22 Jan 2012

Maybe she could be persuaded to become a British citizen, along with her parents who would be a welcome addition to this country as compared with some of the people we are welcoming to our shores. (Of course we would get opposition from the do-gooders). (TIC)

  Forum Editor 11:32 22 Jan 2012


Laura is known to like the UK -she sailed here on her own from Holland when she was 12. She says she's considering her options. Like all 16 year old people she's something of a dreamer, and she's fond of the Mark Twain quote:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didnt do than by the ones you did do

So throw off the bowlines

Sail away from the safe harbour

Catch the trade winds in your sails

Explore, Dream, Discover"

I'm sure we haven't seen the last of her.

  WhiteTruckMan 11:39 22 Jan 2012

SimpleSimon1 - I havent changed my opinion at all from that original post. It is a damned big ocean out there, and she had more than a little luck to complete her voyage on oceans that all to often swallow up far larger vessels than hers. Yes, I congratulate her on her achievement. She has done something that very few people indeed have done. But were I responsible for her I still wouldnt have let her go. Maybe you would have, maybe not. Thats a matter for one's own conscience. But I know that I wouldn't have wanted her loss on mine.


  SimpleSimon1 11:44 22 Jan 2012

**Bingalau "Maybe she could be persuaded to become a British citizen,"**

Hhhm, seems unlikely since on her last trip to England, the local coppers detained her almost as soon as she set foot on the shore (after sailing single-handed from Holland) and wouldn't release her until her father flew over from Holland to shout at them....he then flew back and she sailed back to Holland (again, single-handedly).

  Forum Editor 12:16 22 Jan 2012

"But were I responsible for her I still wouldnt have let her go."

I don't know if you have children or not, but if you have you might have an idea of what's involved when you tell a teenage daughter that she's forbidden to do something that she has set her heart on.

Laura's parents undoubtedly had misgivings, and no doubt they were plagued with anxiety for the whole time she was away, but they knew how important this was to her. They had faith in their daughter's sailing abilities and her strength of character, and they demonstrated it by letting her go.

In a much smaller way I have suffered agonies as my 19 year old daughter has swum with sharks, jumped off a high bridge in Thailand with an elastic band around her ankles,done things with jet skis that looked suicidal to me, and walked up Mt Kilimanjaro, a trip that results in the death of two or three people a year. Each time I fought back the urge to say 'no, you're not doing this', and of course our relationship has been the better for it.

You want your children to be enriched by experience, but you don't always bargain for the type of experiences they choose.

  Forum Editor 12:45 22 Jan 2012

fourm member

I wasn't there when my youngest daughter jumped, and I think it was a good thing.

My other daughter jumped from a crane on a beach, and I did see that. I've never been so scared, but she thought it was all a great laugh. She was 17 at the time, and is now older and wiser - she says she wouldn't do it now.

  WhiteTruckMan 13:16 22 Jan 2012

All this boils down to is where you draw the line. different people draw it in different places. Quite often for different reasons too. I still think 16 was too young for this, but whats done is done. Just because I would not have permitted this were I the father doesnt in any way detract from the achievement itself.

There are many things I wouln't permit my twin girls at 16 that I have no (well, very little) qualms about now they are 19 year old university undergrads. But to use another example neither would I have permitted - or more precisely condoned - the marriage of a 16 year old Mandy Smith to aging rocker Bill Wyman. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it's a good idea.


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