14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. ( full video link )
Dekker was born in the city of Whangarei, New Zealand, during a seven-year sailing trip by her parents. Her father, Dick Dekker, is Dutch and her mother, Babs Müller is German. Dekker has Dutch, German, and New Zealand citizenship. Her parents divorced in 2002. She lived with her father after the separation of her parents, and her younger sister Kim went to live with her mother.
Dekker spent the first five years of her life at sea, and sailed often with her father after the family's return to the Netherlands. She has owned several boats, all named Guppy. The first was an Optimist she received for her sixth birthday, and which she promptly learned to sail solo, initially accompanied by her father on a windsurfer.
For her eighth birthday (in 2003), she received the book Maiden Voyage, Tania Aebi's memoir of her round-the-world sailing trip.
In the summer of 2006, after assisting her father in a 24-hour sailing race aboard a friend's Hurley 700, she received permission from the boat's owner to borrow it for personal use, in return for cleaning and maintenance. It was just at the 7 m limit below which Dutch law imposes on captains under the age of 16. Sailing it often, she christened this boat Guppy as well.
In the summer of 2007, she took it on a more ambitious 6-week sailing tour of the Wadden Sea, accompanied by her dog Spot.
Over the following winter, Dekker searched for her own Hurley 700, and bought one with a loan from her father. This boat was also christened Guppy, and she spent her entire 2008 summer vacation aboard it, cruising around the Netherlands.
In August 2009, Dekker announced her plan for a two-year solo sailing voyage around the globe in the Dutch national newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad. Her father was in support of her plans. Dekker planned to sail a seagoing 38-ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz ketch, also named Guppy. The boat was equipped for long-distance sailing and adapted for solo-circumnavigation.
The planned route started from Portugal westwards, to cruise the Caribbean and then to go through Panama and past Indonesia. She then planned either to go past Somalia to the Mediterranean, or around Africa, should piracy become a serious concern. Her plan was to make around 26 stops.
The original plan called for Dekker to be met at 14 locations by a support team, which also would help her along difficult spots such as the Panama Canal. In reality, for cost reasons, people from home (mostly family members) met her only five times, although she was given some assistance by other leisure sailors she met, for example through the Panama Canal.
The plan said she would not be sailing for more than three weeks between stops. After Australia she however decided to skip some stops so she in reality did two 6–7 weeks long legs.
An Iridium tracking system onboard allowed a team in the Netherlands to monitor her course closely.
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Source : Sailing world / wikipedia