Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Laura at 14

Laura set off to sail solo around the world when she was 14 years old. Growing up in Holland, she'd had a look at normal life in the modern world and didn't much care for it.
"... they are thinking only about money.  Money is most important thing.  Raising a family, getting a car, getting a house, getting kids and then die.”  ~ Laura Dekker
"I grew up with my dad, building boats," she tells us.  Born on the far side of the world in the middle of an extended sailing trip by her parents, she'd been sailing since the beginning.  Laura sailed by herself from Holland to England when she was 13.  She'd done it without permission and got in trouble for it.  She has a broader view of the world than most, perhaps.

Prior to her circumnavigation attempt, she and her parents spent ten months battling the Dutch Child Protective Services in court.  "They tried to take me away from my mom and dad, and put me in a home for crazy kids."  She won the battle.

"I don't like people to tell me what to do."

“I asked myself, can you do this? And I answered, I’m going to try. So I’m curious if I can, and if I make it, then I know I can. Then I've crossed a boundary. That is my only goal.”  She visited the Canary Islands on her trip, and the Eastern Caribbean before transiting the Panama Canal.  Once in the canal, she realized she was really going to circle the world; no more turning back.

“Nobody said life was easy. But that’s a pretty annoying fact.”

The Galapagos Islands, then west across the Pacific; Fiji, Vanuatu, through the treacherous Torres Strait, and north around Australia to Darwin.
“I had been awake for almost three days by the time I came into Australia and all my sails were just ripped and broken down and my steering wheel had fallen off.  I felt like I was just on the bottom.” 
"I hate sponsors," she explains as she handles everything herself.  No team to meet her, she does repairs, customs paperwork, and her own shopping ....

She met wonderful folks and other travelers along the way, mostly old people.  When you're just fourteen, everybody is old, I suppose.

Repairs, then 48 days at sea across the southern Indian Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope at the very southern tip of Africa.  She made the passage in difficult weather, the sort of wind and waves that professional seamen try to avoid.  She did well and impressed the maritime community with her skills.

And she learned things about herself along the way.  "I love sailing.  I love the ocean."  "I love being alone.  I feel like freedom is not being attached to anything."  "I just love being out there." "Now I know what sailing around the world means." "It was the end of a dream I'd had as a kid, and it was the beginning of my life as a sailor."

Upon completing her voyage, she was met by crowds and the media, which she would have gladly done without, and by her family.  “The best part was definitely seeing my mom, my sister and my dad all at the same time. It was a perfect welcome.”

And what comes next?  “I feel like New Zealand's going to be a good place for me. And if it turns out not to be, I’ll just travel further.”

Laura chose not to return to the Netherlands where she and her family had been treated so harshly. New Zealand offered a chance at life in a new way.  "I don't really have a home," she says.  "Home to me is Guppy," her 40 ft. sailboat.

Interesting, to say the least.  She challenges virtually all the norms about life that we hold so dear.  There's a movie about her trip called 'Maiden Voyage'.  She took all the video at sea herself.

In 2012, Laura Dekker became the youngest person ever to sail around the world single-handed.  She had sailed 27,000 miles over 519 days.

Not every girl makes headlines like Laura Dekker did, but she provides an extraordinarily motivating illustration of how any girl (or guy) can choose the shape of their own life.