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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Teen Girl Close To Circumnavigating The Globe After 500 Days

Laura Dekker set off by herself in August 2010 to sail around the globe. She was just 14-years-old. Her voyage was not without controversy yet 500 days later she’s still at sea and close to completing her goal. 

“Now 16, Dekker is on the final leg, a long stint from Cape Town, South Africa, to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, where she set sail in 2010,” writes the Associated Press. “Amid blustery weather, she’s on pace to reach port in Philipsburg around Jan. 24, her lawyer Peter de Lange said in a telephone interview Wednesday.”

“I am looking forward to my arrival and officially end my journey even though I feel like I already accomplished what I had set out to do a long time ago,” Dekker wrote in a blog post. “I have learned very much about myself along the way and I also have learned very much from all the different places and the many different people that I came in contact with in so many different countries.”

The journey wasn’t a whim for young Dekker, she’d spent most of her life on boats. She owned her first boat and learned to sail it at age six. But the sailing hasn’t exactly been smooth. A Dutch court had originally “blocked her voyage and only permitted her to set off after she bought a bigger, sturdier boat than the one she originally planned to use; fitted it with advanced navigation and radar equipment; enrolled in a special correspondence school; and took courses in first aid and coping with sleep deprivation.”

So after a bit of struggle, Dekker was on her way, only to more waves during her trip. More recently, “In her native Netherlands, the story of her voyage has once again been overshadowed by conflicts with the Dutch school system and bureaucrats about approval for her trip. De Lange confirmed a report in De Volkskrant newspaper Tuesday that truancy officers issued her father a summons to appear late last year after a newspaper quoted her as saying she hadn’t been giving her studies full attention. De Lange said the report was a misunderstanding, based on her saying she needed to concentrate on sailing while weather in the Atlantic was poor.”

Although the school system seems pretty serious, de Lang is hopeful the issues will be smoothed over once Dekker is back home. Especially since she’s two years older and has expressed her interest in returning to school. But Dekker herself is more concerned about the media she’ll face once she’s done.

“Everything will abruptly change soon as we will come under the media limelight,” wrote Dekker. “I am so glad that I still have 12 more days on the Atlantic Ocean before that time comes because that part never appeared in any of my dreams.”

Dekker is not the only young woman to attempt the voyage. “Her circumnavigation attempt started two months after Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old American, had to be rescued in a remote section of the Indian Ocean during an attempt to circle the globe. Jessica Watson of Australia completed a 210-day solo voyage at age 16. Dekker is now on day 508 of her voyage.

But as far as official accolades go, Dekker is out of luck. The AP writes, “Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council have decided they will no longer recognize records for “youngest” sailors to avoid encouraging dangerous attempts.”

(via Yahoo, MSNBC)


  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Her story is amazing and this is as much coverage as she’ll probably ever get due to the world caring about the Lindsay Lohans and the North Koreas more so than personal stories of bravery, perseverance, skill, study, and maturation.

    Either way, it would be fantastic if you (The Mary Sue Crew) could score an interview.

  • Anonymous

    As a Dutchie whose seen Dekker’s story in the newspapers more than I care to recall, I still refuse to applaud her accomplishments. While admirable on their own, her disregard for the school system and, frankly, spoiled attitutide that she should get what she wants even if it means going against the law, isn’t something I feel sympathy for.

  • Anonymous


  • Eric Bazilio

    I feel oh so very much sympathy for criticism against school systems, specially when they are more about enforcing memorization rather than stimulating critical thinking and curiosity.

  • Gaudi Daamen

    It is great, I think, that she could do this. But it also annoys me that apparently she doesn’t have to follow the rules regarding school and education. If any other 14 year old would skip school for whatever reason, he or she would have a huge problem with the school and with the attendance officer. So why should she think she’s more special than any other kid here? (I am Dutch btw)

  • Adam Whitley

    Totally,  the schools and the laws were only holding her back.

  • Adam Whitley

    because she’s badass and doing something awesome

  • Conal O’Keefe

    ignore the schooling angle. First thing on my mind is Slocum’s ‘Alone Around The World’… Formal education can only take you so far. Is she breaking the (her country’s) rules? Yeah. At the same time, it is ok. 

    She IS special – she is gaining especial recognition because she is going to complete (read: survive) this journey. She is special for undertaking it. Full stop. If she had died 10 days out, she would have still been special. 

    We celebrate her NOW because she HAS started this, and looks to FINISH this. 

  • Gaudi Daamen

    No she’s a spoilt little girl. What if any other kid would try to pull of something like that (skipping school basically). School would not accept it. Why should the rules be changed for her?!??!

  • Adam Whitley

    because she want’s to follow her dreams and she’s gonna go back to school later but you’re right every student should have the same opportunity she has and they should either revise their rules or abolish them

  • Anonymous

    Stay in school, and (maybe!) become a surgeon, or a banker. Conventional education doesn’t fit with exceptional kids, and she surely is special! She’ll learn more in these two years than the school system could teach her in a lifetime. And look forward to a brilliant career in sailing, where opportunities abound for people like her.

  • Amy Yarosh

    Is the Ocean going somewhere, why did she need to do it now rather than after she had finished her schooling ?

  • Adam Whitley

    is school going somewhere?

  • Gaudi Daamen

    That’s my point. If she can skip 2 years of school, then any kid should be able do to something like that. And right now this is not what’s happening. 

  • Dazee

    I don’t get why anyone is up in arms about the schooling thing. First, rather then learning things from a book, which might have who know how much outdated information, she went to these places and expereinced them first hand.

    I also didn’t see anything that said she wan’t doing schooling at all. It sounds like at some points she fell behind on her studies, but kids do that even whn they’re IN school. I also find a lot of these comments about the schooling.. kinda insulting to home schooling. “If you don’t go to a government school you might as well feed pigs for a living!” (my mind exaggerates, it has a sense of humor.. there is also nothing wrong with feeding pigs for a living)

    And shame on anyone who can’t find this amazing just because she missed a year and a half being at school. Even if she did no actual, standarized, government issued/approved/whatever school work during this time.. is it really so big of a deal that one must be a snob about it? Think about how much more enriched every child’s life would be (and how much more open and accepting everyone would be) if for one year children would travel all over the world? (possible, probable? No hardly, but again, my mind exaggerates.. and has a sense of wonder)