An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

So, what would you do? Laura Dekker, a 13-year-old girl who lives in the sea-loving Netherlands, wants to take out her 26-foot boat, The Guppy, and sail around the world, according to the Associated Press.

All by her lonesome.

Laura comes by her wanderlust naturally: she was born in New Zealand while her parents were on an around-the-world sailing adventure, and spent most of her first four years at sea. She’s been sailing alone since age six, and says she started dreaming of a solo sail around the world when she was 10. With some obvious help, she’s set up a website (in Dutch) so fans can track her travels.

Her parents seem to think it’s a cool idea, but how much conversation there’s been is unclear: the girl lives with her father, who is Dutch, and divorced from her German mother. Some wonder if she’s living out a parental fantasy, and many observers think it’s a bad idea to let a 13-year-old set out on an around-the-world voyage all by herself.

The sea alone is dangerous enough, but it’s probably not the sea I’d be most worried about: there would be lots of ports along the way.

Dutch officials are so concerned that the Dutch Council for Child Protection has asked a court to grant it temporary custody of Laura so it can say “no” when her parents won’t.

I don’t know Laura or her sailing abilities, though I’m sure they are superb. I do know what my answer would be if our almost-13-year-old wanted to sail around the world alone, or even walk a few miles into town by himself. It starts with an “n.”

I can’t speak for Laura’s parents, but I suspect a lot of children would be better off if their parents were willing, at the appropriate times, to say “no.”

[The photo is from Dekker’s website.]

Share This