Laura Dekker Cheered into Final Harbour of St. Maarten
Posted on: 2012-01-22 14:22:14

Even better than Hans Brinker...

Dutch girl, 16, becomes youngest sailor to circumnavigate globe single-handed

Laura Dekker cheered into final harbour of St Maarten but may not return to Netherlands after goverment resistance to trip

Laura Dekker, a 16-year old Dutch sailor who has become the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, has threatened never to return to the Netherlands because of government resistance to her adventures.

Dekker arrived on the Caribbean island of St Maarten on Saturday on board her 38ft boat, Guppy, and admitted she sometimes wondered what she was doing during her voyage. She also described her battles with the Dutch authorities who wanted to prevent her setting sail as a "frightening and traumatic experience" and said she was discussing with her parents the possibility of moving abroad, most likely to New Zealand.

When Dekker sailed into harbour at the St Maarten yacht club late on Saturday night, aged 16 years and 123 days, she was met by crowds of wellwishers and stepped on to the dock accompanied by her mother, Babs Muller, her father Dick Dekker, and her sister and grandparents.

"There were moments where I was like, 'What the hell am I doing out here?' but I never wanted to stop," she told reporters after struggling against high seas and heavy winds on the final 41-day leg from Cape Town, South Africa. "It's a dream, and I wanted to do it."

Courts in the Netherlands originally refused to allow Dekker to embark on the voyage when she was 14, and she placed in care of welfare officers on the grounds that she was too young to look after herself at sea.

She finally won her battle with the courts in July 2010 and set sail from St Maarten on January 20 2011.

Dekker was born to parents living on a boat near the coast of New Zealand and first sailed solo at six years old, around which time her parents divorced and she went to live with her father. Friends have described her as intelligent, independent and disciplined.

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Printed from Western Voices World News (