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Sixteen years old Laura Dekker circumnavigated the world by herself

Posted on Feb 14 2012

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When on Saturday she put her feet on the ground of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin from her sailing boat Grumpy, sixteen years old Laura Dekker has officially become the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world.

In the August 2010 she went to her trip around the world, but now her adventure finished.
As much as the journey on a twelve meter long sailing boat with two masts was a challenge, much harder was to obtain all permissions necessary for this venture.

In 2009, Laura announced her intention to sail the world in an interview given to the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper after which the Dutch child welfare authorities took legal action against Laura and her father, Dick Dekker, to forbid Laura making the voyage. In the first moment, girl's mother Babs Muller who separated with Laura’s father Dick several years ago and left him a guardianship over Laura, agreed with the social welfare authorities. During the process initiated by the Dutch familiar court changed her mind, which significantly influenced on the court decision. On the court decision also influenced the history of Laura’s sailing on the sea, which in fact was crucial for issuing permission. After that, there was no legal obstacle for Laura any more to go for a trip in August 2010.

Laura was born in a sailing boat on which her parents were sailing around the world during seven years. Her early childhood was marked with sailing and sea as she spent her first 4 years of live on the boat, sailing with her parents. A gift for her 6th birthday was her own sailing boat - class Optimist which she soon managed to sail. For her 10th birthday she had a new, bigger boat which she called Grumpy and with which she was going to journeys lasting several weeks, completely alone. So, ten years old girls solely sailed routes between Wadden Sea and Northern Sea and then passage between Netherlands and Great Britain. During her last journey, for the first time she experienced problems with authorities as after she sailed into the British port, police and port authorities could hardly believed that a ten years old girl managed to sail such a big sailing boat. Then they called her father to come and collect her to the way home.

All that is far from circumnavigating the world, so Laura had to prepare in a particular way.
A journey starting point was in Portugal whilst the final point was at Caribbean islands, where Laura arrived after circumnavigated the world.   Her parents monitored her along a predetermined path by a particular Iridium Locating System whilst on every harder part of the journey she was met by groups of local sailors which helped her to overcome paths in, for her unknown seas.  Extremely hard was passing Panama Canal, where she was helped by her colleagues-sailors from Panama.

– I am happy, I proved that I can do that, said Laura at the end of her journey. So, with 16 yrs. she was officially proclaimed the youngest sailor who circumnavigated the world solely by herself, whilst her record in the book of world records will be the last. Guinness World Records decided to stop recognising records for “youngest” sailors to avoid any other young sailor decide to break Laura's record.