Laura Dekker: Teen Circumnavigator (For Real)

24 Jan

Forget about whether Guinness and other record-keeping organizations will "officially" consider Dutch teenager Laura Dekker the youngest person ever to sail a boat around the globe. The race for "youngest ever" was getting silly, and even a little dangerous, so perhaps that's understandable (though when did it become a record-keeping outfit's responsibility to decide what is dangerous and what is not?).

Instead, focus on the fact that late last week Dekker, just 16, completed a remarkably seamanlike, and drama-free, solo circumnavigation in just under one year. How many 16-year olds do you know that have the

skills and maturity to do that? (One actually, Jessica Watson; who actually had the more impressive voyage, not that Dekker gives a damn). Anyhow, it doesn't matter whether Dekker is the youngest (which she is). It was a remarkable voyage, handled remarkably well. That's just about all you need to know to be impressed by her achievement (though the fact that she first sailed solo at age 6, if we aren't talking just an Opti, is also pretty impressive).

Who knows when the next teen to set out to voyage solo across the oceans, and whether the voyage will be another quiet triumph or the sort of disaster that will perhaps put an end to all this underage circumnavigating. Neptune will eventually send a stern message to parents. 

In the meantime, though, Dekker voyaged round in style, indulging her passions and her curiosity, and showing little interest in simply being youngest. That is a true, and worthy, adventure, and I am inducting her into the newly established Waterworld Hall Of Fame.  

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