Dutch court blocks girl’s solo global sailing bid

Published by Agence France Press, 28 August 2009.

UTRECHT, Netherlands – A Dutch court ruled Friday that a 13-year-old girl cannot set sail on a solo round-the-world voyage next month and ordered her to be placed in the temporary care of social services.

In a judgement that was welcomed by young Laura Dekker’s lawyer, the court judges did not rule out the possibility of her eventually embarking on the record-breaking quest but said a full study was needed to assess the dangers.

“The parents are going to have to negotiate all important decisions regarding Laura with the child protection services,” said a statement from the court in the central city of Utrecht.

“This means that Laura cannot start her round-the-world trip without their (child protection services’) agreement,” the statement added.   

The children’s court also ordered an inquiry into the psychological and physical impact that such a voyage – expected to last two years – was likely to have on the teenager. A report has to be delivered by October 16.

Dutch child protection agents had referred the case to the children’s court asking it to suspend the parental authority of Laura’s mother and father, who were backing her bid to become the youngest ever person to sail around the world solo …

… Her father Dick has previously told a local newspaper that he was aware that the voyage was “a dangerous undertaking” but one within her capabilities.

“We would not let our child do something of which she was not in complete control,” he said.

A 17-year-old British boy, Mike Perham, on Thursday became the youngest person to sail solo around the world with assistance, as he entered British waters after 156 days at sea. (full text).

Link: Teen’s solo voyage plan causing controversy, Aug 26, 2009.

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