Laura Dekker ready to emigrate if she can’t sail

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While Britain is anxiously waiting for 17-year-old Mike Perham to sail into Portmouth on 29 August after having sailed around the world, 13-year-old Laura Dekker has had to lawyer up in order to fight for the opportunity to attempt the same feat for the Netherlands.

An English article about Perham ironically starts with “while most teenagers may have been losing sleep over their exam results during the past few days”, while the Dutch courts have called upon Child Services, claiming Dekker’s parents are keeping their child from school because her learning while on the sailboat is ‘nonsense’. If Child Services thinks that the parents are not doing right by Laura, there is talk of removing her from their custody.

To avoid this situation, Laura who has dual citizenship with New Zealand, is ready to emigrate – that’s how much Laura and her parents believe in this sailing journey.

Her lawyer tries to tell the courts about this exceptional teenager. “Laura is not just some girl. She was born on a sailboat and lived the first four years of her life on one at sea. She has all the necessary skills and qualities for this journey.”

He makes another good point as well. If we compare Laura to a 13-year-old gymnast, no one goes and checks to see if the gymnast goes to school or is brought up properly — they get support from an Olympic committee or a sports association.

So, are the Dutch Children’s Services not seeing the big picture or are they seeing it very clearly? Why are boys like Mike Perham and record holder Zac Sunderland of the US praised and encouraged, but Laura discouraged? Is she really too young or is a girl less capable? Stay tuned!

My personal, uneducated take is that the entire family could just skip town to New Zealand for a year. Then New Zealand can claim the world record for solo sailing around the world.

(Links: timesonline.co.uk, depers.nl, Photo of an entirely unrelated boat by the US Navy.)

9 Comments »

  1. How odd that they would take that approach, as opposed to the mere fact of her age. Guess the schools are pretty great, not to be missed. Has she passed the point of being shunted off to vocational school, if her academic performance is found lacking? Perhaps she should hang a backpack from the top of the mast either way.

    Comment by chris — August 25, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  2. How effective are the Dutch Children’s Services? I ask, because to sensationalise Laura Dekker’s case might be a way to avoid investigating the “Kinderbescherming” where it’s been not doing its job. Just a thought.

    Comment by Jay Vos — August 25, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

  3. With both genders, there’s a distinct difference between a 13 and 17; at least in the West. Does Laura have professional sailing aspirations? If so, why is the Dutch national team supporting her?

    Comment by Darth Paul — August 25, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  4. i also heard that the “leer-plicht” officers are going after them as well to set an example.

    when i grew up there if you were at primary-school and your family wanted to go on a big holiday (like to the US or so) your mum would just write a note for the principal informing them you wouldn’t be there the first week of school. and that would be that.

    nowadays if you miss a day the ‘leer-plicht’ nazi’s will fine your @rse.

    Comment by tom — August 26, 2009 @ 7:28 am

  5. I think the debate about this is pretty interesting. I side with those who say she shouldn’t go, but I don’t have strong convictions about it.

    People who say that the nanny state shouldn’t get involved in every issue and that kids should be allowed to do daring/risky things if their parents agree also make good points.

    Maybe the best way to frame this is: when should protective services step in? What if this was an 8-year-old girl who wanted to do the same thing?
    Or a 4-year-old?

    There are always parents out there who will say why not.

    Comment by Toby Sterling — August 26, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  6. God speed to her, it’s outragous the authorities want to stop her. She is obviously experienced and after sailing my self a 26 footer half way round the world a small boat is easy to handle and very safe especially for an agile young person. She would have 24 7 satelite phone contact at hand so there is no issue of being isolated, this is exactly the sort of thing young people should be up to in these times.

    Comment by Philip — August 27, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  7. very good
    in the end you will find ….
    the state owns you.
    get used to this fact
    everybody should realize that the state owns you
    you may think otherwise
    but you would `probably` be wrong

    reminds me of a american girl who wanted to fly across america of something
    she was maybe 12 – and died in a plane crash.

    so … find a more free country – or more corrupt country …. hehe
    i suggest africa or asia – they kill lots of kids there without a care ..

    o

    Comment by owen — August 28, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

  8. Cchildprotection-organization-Netherlands, AMK: A JOKE!!!!
    The AMK uses the Laura-case as propaganda material to show off in the media how caring they are, but we know better how arrogant ant anti-father they are.
    i did not see my son of 8 for 3 years, his mother is suicidal and suffering of borderline-syndrom, bbut the AMK did not take notice of my worries and simply hung up the phone, indeed, the same office who is now involved in the Laura case!!!
    Now my son needs medicins and psychiatric treatment, still the AMK does not want to look at the case….
    We also have a fathers for justice organisation in Holland: DWAZE VADER.NL.
    In many cases the so called child services organisation Netherlands (AMK) tet children down and did not listen to signals or warnings of whitneses.
    Child services organisation Netherlands, AMK; a bunch of unproffesional, overpayed arrogant fools with an anti father-attitude WHO DO NOT CARE ABOUT CHILDREN WHO REALY(!) NEED HELP.

    Comment by Bert — September 14, 2009 @ 1:21 am

  9. I think that Laura will be learning more valuable lesson doing this than she would if she wee in school learning to conform to set rules. BTW, is her attempt on track still, last update I read put her in Panama. Good luck Laura.

    Comment by Mick Robinson — May 9, 2011 @ 8:34 am

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