Laura Dekker is unofficially the youngest person to sale around the world. Dekker, who is 16 years and four months old, has just arrived at St Maarten, completing her 500 day journey.
Yesterday, Dekker posted on her website:
“I saw the first of many small islands I’ll be sailing by. Guadeloupe is still hiding over the horizon but I expect that it will soon be in sight. Exactly 364 days ago I was sailing on the opposite side of Guadeloupe heading west, with a whole bunch of old fishing buoys and nets in tow… Since then a lifetime of experiences has gone by. It feels like it was just yesterday but at the same time it seems like it was an eternity ago. Back then I had no idea I would be back now with a life load of new experiences and 27 000 nautical miles under Guppy’ keel. But here I am having almost circumnavigated the whole world. Yes, that idea is slowly sinking in… But I don’t really believe it…”
Dekker beat Jessica Watson’s 2010 record by six months. Guinness, however, no longer keeps track of the record. (The world record keepers decided to stop keeping track of “world’s youngest” records due to the controversy surrounding Dekker’s voyage.)
The Dutch teen announced that she would attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world at the age of 13. Dutch Child Services threatened legal action and Dekker wasn’t allowed to set sail. After a 10-month court battle, Dekker was required to buy a bigger boat and advanced navigation equipment. She was also required to enroll in a special correspondence school.
Dekker finally set sail in 2010 and has spent more than 500 days aboard her boat Guppy.
The Dutch government even threatened to arrest Dekker’s parents after they found out that Laura wasn’t keeping up with her schoolwork.
Because of the controversy, Dekker said that she may not return to Holland after her journey. On Friday Dekker told the Telegraph:
“I do not want to be totally negative about Holland, I know I have many supporters there. I feel sad for them that I am not sailing into either Hoek van Holland or Ijmuiden. That would have bene a great party for everyone.”
Dekker plans to return to school now that her ’round the world’ journey is complete but she may not attend school in Holland. Dekker, who is also a citizen of New Zealand, plans to permanently move there now that her journey is complete.