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Old 04-24-2012, 11:32 AM
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Age is relative for this type of cruising

On another thread here in "off-topic" the question was raised if a member should send his 18 year daughter on a 12 hour Amtrak journey or have her fly. Rather than hyjack his thread with the "age is relative" discussion, I figured I would start a new thread then link it back to his thread. I am the author of this story about Laura Dekker, and have followed her adventures through my many cruising friends that she has met in her travels. I've posted about her on the sailing forums I belong to and one automotive forum. Hot Rodders makes the 2nd.


First picture courtesy of Nick, aboard his very fast world cruiser, a Sundeer 64, S/V Jedi, in Colon, Panama. Nick cooked Laura a Dutch-Indian dinner on Jedi on her first transit of the Panama Canal.

Now on to Laura's story as told by yours truly.......

Laura Dekker, at the tender age of 14, left the Netherlands in her old 38' Gin Fizz that she named "Guppy" for a solo circumnavigation which was completed today, 1-21-12 in Simpson Bay on the dual nationality island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. This is the condensed version of this amazing young girl's adventure. Everyone is welcome to comment as I bring the cruisers here up to date with Laura's solo cruise.

Because of what she has accomplished, and the fact that her solo circumnavigation is almost over, I'm going to try and bring the members here up to speed on this amazing young lady. If any of you were lucky enough to have off spring with the talents, skill, and self-confidence as Laura, I hope you gave them some free reign. I guess it all started with the fact she was born on a sailboat off the coast of New Zealand when her parents were cruising the world. At the age of 8, she declared to her parents that she was going to sail solo around the world starting when she turned 12. At the time of this declaration, Holland still granted adult status to its citizens age 12 and older. By the age of 11, she had taken survival classes, first aid, diesel school, and could preform the almost lost art of celestial navigation, which is hard, I had to learn it also for CMA. Today with GPS, there are a lot of sailors that wouldn't know what to do with a sextant. As she neared her 12th birthday, she wanted to do a shakedown cruise across the North Sea to England and back in her beloved 27' Guppy. A 800 Hurley, rather new, and a boat she was totally dialed into because she loved going out in heavy weather just to push it to the max. Her Dad allowed this because he felt she would get knocked around so much crossing the North Sea that he would then have to fly over and bring her and Guppy home and in turn she would wait until she was older for the world cruise. A week later Laura was back home after calmly dealing with what the North Sea had to offer, and used this adventure to go out and cultivate sponsorship. Due to this 12 year old making presentations in company board rooms all over Holland, the government authorities got wind of her plans and promptly put an end to her big adventure. During the time from age 8 to 11, Holland under pressure from Western Countries, raised the age of majority, not to stop HER from sailing, but to fall in line with age of consent laws. Laura got an attorney and proceeded to fight her government for a year.

This nice, almost new boat was the first "Guppy", all 27' of her.

When the Dutch government was keeping her from leaving, one of the conditions was she had to get a larger boat. Laura to date has financed this project on her own, so to comply she bought a rather clapped out Gin Fizz at 38'.

And the refit was on............








She worked her hands bloody, put in long hours because this was her dream
She is now 13, as her old "new" Guppy is about ready.



I'll take a short break on this story on Hot Rodders to test the waters and see if anyone wants more.

Bob

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Old 04-24-2012, 12:00 PM
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But she has to clean herself up, leave the boatyard, and do battle in court.






But to no avail, the judge still denies her and holds her passport. Laura is a quick on her feet type of young lady, so she boards a commercial airline for a 5000 mile trip to the dual nationality island of St. Marteen, in the Caribbean, that because half the island is Dutch, she didn't need a passport. She will now look for a boat here and sail off on her adventure.


I am the author of this story about Laura that I'm sharing here, so excuse the date references, as I wrote the article awhile back..........

Is anyone interested in hearing part two? Laura Dekker is a very special young lady. Yesterday she rounded the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in very rough conditions. Wind speeds reached over 65 mph. She decided that the crazy weather that you will experience going around the southern Cape of South Africa was preferable to dealing with the Pirates.

Typically on a sailboat your head sail is a furling arrangement. When you get into heavy weather you're able to furl the head sail and reduce the amount of sail. In Laura's case you have to remember that she had to buy a rather clapped out sailboat to meet her government's demands for a larger boat. In so doing she had a lot of work that she had to do to refit the sailboat. Not having much of a budget, she would buy used parts and rebuild them on her own. The furling head sail was one of those items she had to rebuild. And the high winds of crossing the horn was not a good time for this furling system to fail, but it did. Now Laura had a choice, hope that the amount of sail she had up would not cause a knockdown or she could carefully move to the bow of the boat in 65 mile-per-hour winds and remove the sail. She chose the latter.

okay then, the above post I got a little ahead of myself. Laura's dad convinced her to return back to the Netherlands and deal with courts. Close to her 14th birthday the courts decided they would let her go on a number of conditions. Condition one, her dad had to sail with her out of Netherland's waters. He sailed with her all the way to Portugal. Laura had to take care of her dad because he sprained his ankle while on the boat. She also complained that he was eating all of her favorite food.she sailed down to the Azores, sailed down the coast of Africa, and then made the jump over to the Caribbean and low and behold, she arrived at the dual nationality island of St. Martine in the Caribbean. So, now she's been to this island twice, once flying there, and now arriving by herself in her sailboat. While in the Caribbean, she took a commercial flight back to the Netherlands to participate in the big boat show there. she was a guest speaker at a lot of the different events at the boat show. She also demonstrated a really unique inflatable catamaran sailboat, that was the size of a dinghy. Just like Laura loves to do, she would take this dinghy out in some of the craziest weather she could find.ever since she was a child this is what she loved to do, and that was to take any sailboat she was sailing into heavy weather. This is how she dials into her sailboats.



Laura, unlike the two other teenage girls who attempted solo circumnavigation's, chose to soak in the culture as she sailed. Jessica and Abby both were going to sail around the world nonstop. To me that would be a total waste. On her trip, Laura has done many interesting things on land. She taught herself how to drive a stick shift car, she had never driven a car before this one. She also herded a water buffalo, sailed as an officer on a tall ship and basically is having the time of her life.





I forgot to mention that the manufacturer of that catamaran dinghy was so impressed with Laura's skills, they wound up giving her the boat. So now aboard guppy she has two dinghies, one she can drop an outboard motor on, the other she can set sail on.



Laura, when she arrives in port, really draws a crowd. Funny thing, she is not that comfortable around a crowd of non-boating people.


I believe she is more comfortable in this position.


She admits to not being too much into the homework, but she does study her charts rather well, and is extremely proficient at weather routing.
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:46 PM
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You aren't going to like my opinion. I feel it's a kin to letting your 14 year old daughter do anything that should be limited to adults, be it having sex with a 40 year old man, going to the front line in war, perform a heart transplant, etc. I think the parents should be arrested for child abuse.

Sorry, but that is how I see it, I think it's ludicrous to even think of such a thing.

Brian
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:00 PM
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Brian,

No need to be sorry for your opinion. Even on the Cruiser's Forum, your feelings were echoed among many posters. I, as a professional mariner knew she had the skill set to do it, but in my correspondence with Laura I have told her that I'm sure she was able to enjoy her trip more starting at 14, rather than 12 that she wanted to, but her government balked at. Just her physical maturity alone allowed for more acceptance in the later years of her voyage at age 16. Had I come across her in some anchorage lately and did not know her, I would have just though... another 20-something solo cruiser. If she had gotten to leave when she wanted, and I met her, my first impression would have been..... what is this young early teen doing all by herself in the South Pacific Islands.

If you or others are interested in her entire story, I'll post, and nearing the end of her story I wouldn't be surprised if you decide that in her special case, sailing off at 14 wasn't crazy after all.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MARTINSR
You aren't going to like my opinion. I feel it's a kin to letting your 14 year old daughter do anything that should be limited to adults, be it having sex with a 40 year old man, going to the front line in war, perform a heart transplant, etc. I think the parents should be arrested for child abuse.

Sorry, but that is how I see it, I think it's ludicrous to even think of such a thing.

Brian
I could not agree more with you Brian, I don't care if it is a her or a him, the parents should be arrested, this is their ego trip, they are feeding and brain washing her to do this is sickening.

Same for any parent that would let their kid get on a Marta Bus in Atlanta or ride a train with the other lower forms, that ride those things.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:16 PM
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Obviously she is not an average 14 year old. I don't know the details of her trip, did she have a radio for trouble and a rescue plan just in case the need was there? This young lady had a trip of a lifetime, whether she is 14 or 40, stopping and enjoying the trip certainly would be a plus as opposed to sailing non stop. I envy her, what a cool kid!
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:23 PM
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There is no point to harnessing a free spirit, might as well lock her up at home and tell her friends she is not allowed to play. She will rebel.

I would not mind one bit if my 13 year old daughter had that kind of drive and can-do attitude, this young gal is an example to kids everywhere, give her some credit.

I got a feeling that someone is/was tailing her making sure she is OK?

If she wants to sail and has the skills (which she has proven she does) with her parents blessing then I say let her rock n roll and good luck to her.

Bon Voyage.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by dinger
Obviously she is not an average 14 year old. I don't know the details of her trip, did she have a radio for trouble and a rescue plan just in case the need was there? This young lady had a trip of a lifetime, whether she is 14 or 40, stopping and enjoying the trip certainly would be a plus as opposed to sailing non stop. I envy her, what a cool kid!
When she first took off I didn't know what radio compliment she had aboard "Guppy". Later I saw a very old VHF, of the same vintage I used back in my academy days. A VHF radio is only good line of site, so with the antenna at the top of her mast, maybe 25 miles. That is where Laura is quite different than other teenage girls, she has never had much her whole life, and when outfitting "Guppy" if it works, she would use it no matter if it was new or fancy, it fit her meager budget. Later I got wind of her wish list, and at the top was a wish for a HF SSB radio. I have a Icom IC-730, 100 watt radio I wasn't using and boxed it up to send to her in her next port of call. Before I could get the nurse to watch my dad so I could get it to the post office, Icom became another sponsor of Laura, and her wish for that radio had been granted.

Bob
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Custom10
There is no point to harnessing a free spirit, might as well lock her up at home and tell her friends she is not allowed to play. She will rebel.

I would not mind one bit if my 13 year old daughter had that kind of drive and can-do attitude, this young gal is an example to kids everywhere, give her some credit.

I got a feeling that someone is/was tailing her making sure she is OK?

If she wants to sail and has the skills (which she has proven she does) with her parents blessing then I say let her rock n roll and good luck to her.

Bon Voyage.

If that was the truth that she had someone within range to save her if something happen I would have a whole different opinion, but from what I remember that was NOT the case! How does your opinion change now? She had NO ONE, do you feel differently now?

We aren't talking like when I let my 8 year old weld with my MIG, with my direct supervision she could have gotten a burn, that wouldn't have been good, but she would get over it. This girl, we are talking ONE wrong move and she is DEAD. Not just dead, but never to be found again.

Here is one that recently happened near SF, this is only 27 miles out.
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local...147463465.html

Brian
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:34 PM
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I came across this old Dutch Sailing magazine. In the regular Dutch press, Laura has been getting a bad rap just for her year long fight with the Dutch government, not so in this sailing magazine, it was very interesting reading, confirming my beliefs that she truly has natural talents for sailing.


This was back when she sailed at 12, not 13, her Hurly 800, not 700, across the North Sea and back. I'll translate the cover as best I can, my dutch is as rusty as my portuguese.

Her first solo tour
The thirteen year old Laura Dekker is a special girl, so it proved. In 2009 she sailed to England for the first solo in her Hurly 700 Guppy. It was the first step towards her world tour.


Now for Abel, I'll try to again translate to portuguese


Sua primeira turnÍ solo Os 13 anos de idade Laura Dekker ť uma garota especial, por isso provado. Em 2009, ela partiu para a Inglaterra para o primeiro solo em seu Hurly 700 Guppy. Foi o primeiro passo para sua turnÍ mundial.


All the above was in the first "Guppy", which the Dutch government told her was too small. She had to sell her beloved, almost new Guppy, to purchase an old, clapped out Gin Fizz at 36', that she worked her hands bloody re-fitting for her voyage.

The yacht club of Cape Town SA, gave Laura a free haul out, so she could work on Guppy's hull. When she arrived, I just knew she was going to spend some time there. Reading her posts, I have realized she has a very competitive nature when it comes to sailing, and even though the Gin Fizz Guppy is not a fast boat, in the right hands, over canvased and pushed hard, it will turn in some good numbers for a passage if the captain is dialed into the boat, which Laura is in spades. With her ability to sail a slow boat fast, I've wondered what she could do on a race boat. The Volvo Cup is taking place as I type, in Cape Town, and true to her competitive spirit, she has been invited to race on a couple of the team's race boats. She is in 7th heaven, so I will just let her speak directly to you...........

Early this morning after a short flight Guppy was back in her natural element,the water. I would like to thank the Royal Cape Yacht Club's shipyard for picking up the costs of lifting Guppy out of the water, bringing her back in and all the great help. She is now lying at her berth again with the familiar sound of the waves and swaying gently in the wind. I have spend the past two days working hard making her look like new but now I can feel safe heading out towards they sout atlantic. I have already stocked up on food ,filling the fresh water tanks won't be a problem and the mess in the cabin won't be that much of a deal either. So it looks like I can slow down my pace for the coming days and take the time to have a closer look at the Volvo Ocean Race boats. The start of the second leg is getting closer. Today I was aboard 'Groupama' and I learnt that even though all the race boats look pretty much the same they still are very different from each other. It was interesting to see all the little different details on each boat,and of course the crew hopes that that makes there boat the fastest. I am back on Guppy now and the wind just started blowing strongly again. It can change in a matter of minutes here. Today we've had calms a few times in between stronger winds and now again it's blowing at 25 knots over the marina. This is the perfect weather to enjoy a hot chocolate inside the cabin since it is not too warm over here - actually, even with a pullover and my sailing jacket on I am freezing! I won't even mention the water temperature...

Laura

Yesterday I was invited onboard Camper to join them in the Pro Am Race of the V.O.R. It was AMAZING! She is definitely the fastest sailboat I have ever sailed on. No doubt this was the highlight of my time in Cape Town and maybe even the highlight of my whole trip.. really who gets a chance at sailing on a V.O.R boat?. This was a high I definitely can't ever forget and will remember for like...forever. It was breathtaking as the boats went through the water at 21 knots! And for me especially really interesting,the teamwork I do everything on my own not caring too much about going a knot faster or slower but these guys are always watching for the trim on the sails and if 0.5 knots more is possible they definitely will get it out of the boat.

Today I admired the boats onboard Guppy. The In Port Races was a really cool event and as it counts for the overall marks the crews pushed their boats to the limits. Code 0's were hoisted and no one was giving a millimeter they could get. In the end Telefonica finished first, with Camper just behind on the 2nd place. There was a nice breeze so it was a good race ... Not much impresses me so easily but I have to say that all of this really made a big impression on me..

For picture's look at the dutch weblog.

Laura

The above is Laura's text, not mine and it came from here....
http://www.lauradekker.nl/English/Home.html

This is the age gap I have left out of the posts, jumping ahead to her at 16. If anyone is interested in those missed years, I'll try to fill in.


Doing some work on the hull after the free haul-out.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:41 PM
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I agree that she is one outstanding example of a human being we all want to raise. She is a rare amazing person, truely amazing. But that doesn't mean she should be allowed to be put in the horrific position she was in out there. She IS a child, a friggin child.

If she wanted to have her face covered in flower tattoos because her dreams are to be a big pop star should her parents let her?

I'm sorry, in the four years from her age until she was an adult she could have done a hell of lot of things almost as exciting, she could have learned a lot of life lessons so on her 18th birthday taken off on that trip with WAY more experience and she would have had my blessing. But at 14, she was a CHILD.

Brian
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:43 PM
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Ok, so now we have a free spirit kid, so that is OK?

So my free spirit Teenager does not want to wear a seat belt when I drive and I get in an accident and he dies, I will be charged with something, not sure what, because he was under my control and my choice to let him not wear a seatbelt.
If she drowns, the parents should be charged with manslaughter or murder.
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Old 04-24-2012, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Custom10
There is no point to harnessing a free spirit, might as well lock her up at home and tell her friends she is not allowed to play. She will rebel.

I would not mind one bit if my 13 year old daughter had that kind of drive and can-do attitude, this young gal is an example to kids everywhere, give her some credit.

I got a feeling that someone is/was tailing her making sure she is OK?

If she wants to sail and has the skills (which she has proven she does) with her parents blessing then I say let her rock n roll and good luck to her.

Bon Voyage.
You make a very important point. In the last 3 years two other teenage girls set out for a solo circumnavigation, Jessica Watson from Australia and Abby Sunderland from California. Both set out for a record, Abby got dis-masted in a storm in the Indian Ocean and needed rescue. Both of these girls were doing it for the fame of a record of being the youngest and both were going to do it non-stop, which is a waste in my book. Laura did it because of all her her sailing, she had always felt confined by the size of her sailing area. She just loves to sail and is very independent. When she started, the record for youngest was closed because they didn't want to encourage risk taking by ever younger sailors. Laura did it for the love of sailing and adventure, taking in all the sites and cultures along the way. Jessica, who was successful, never left her boat for the entire voyage. Laura in her travels learned how to cliff dive, surf, scuba, and self taught herself in one day to drive a stick shift car in Tahiti.
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by deckofficer
If you or others are interested in her entire story, I'll post, and nearing the end of her story I wouldn't be surprised if you decide that in her special case, sailing off at 14 wasn't crazy after all.
Myself, I don't have any interest in this on the HRB, but JMO. I feel the young lady (actually 16 when she completed the trip according to the media) is talented, but was and is being intentionally exploited by all involved and it all screams "foul" from the parents, to the media, to you promoting it. That too is my opinion, and seems to be shared by others.

On a side note, do not post the entire story here, like you did here, it's out of line with established rules. These pictures along with countless others, are available online in a Google search. Board guidelines are that you post a few lines from the main story along with a link to follow. You have this story on your site, give a brief description and link it.

Also, you have been asked in the past to post thumbnails like everybody else, using the tools provided, yet continue with the huge photos, why do you do that?
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR
If that was the truth that she had someone within range to save her if something happen I would have a whole different opinion, but from what I remember that was NOT the case! How does your opinion change now? She had NO ONE, do you feel differently now?

We aren't talking like when I let my 8 year old weld with my MIG, with my direct supervision she could have gotten a burn, that wouldn't have been good, but she would get over it. This girl, we are talking ONE wrong move and she is DEAD. Not just dead, but never to be found again.

Here is one that recently happened near SF, this is only 27 miles out.
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local...147463465.html

Brian
If she were mine I would want someone to be there near by no doubt. This is not a "normal" land loving child however, what we find mind boggling and incomprehensible may be a walk in the park for her and her family.

It is dangerous no denying that but so is riding a bike and many other things kids do, tragically kids die from those activities every day are we to hold the parents responsible?

It is not our call to make, it is her parents, send the police after them, yeah right might as well arrest half the parents on the planet.
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