Since making headlines around the world last year as a 13-year-old with an improbable dream, Ms. Dekker has obtained a bigger boat, equipped it with modern navigation and safety equipment and studied everything from how to stitch her own wounds, to how to cope with sleep deprivation and put out fires on board
Teenager Laura Dekker is ready to set off on her risky bid to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Now all she needs is the green light from a Dutch court.
The 14-year-old could set off for her starting point of Portugal within two weeks if a court in the southern city of Middelburg lifts a guardianship order imposed last year at a hearing Tuesday, Ms. Dekker’s lawyer Peter de Lane said.
Writing on her blog last weekend, Ms. Dekker said she is hopeful the court will lift the order that prevented her from setting sail months ago.
In a surprising difference of opinion, the government’s umbrella child care organization asked for Ms. Dekker to remain a ward of court for another year, while the youth protection group looking after her says she is ready to sail.
“She is looking forward to making the journey,” Mr. De Lange said.
Since making headlines around the world last year as a 13-year-old with an improbable dream, Ms. Dekker has obtained a bigger boat, equipped it with modern navigation and safety equipment and studied everything from how to stitch her own wounds, to how to cope with sleep deprivation and put out fires on board her 11.5-meter (38-foot) twin-mast ketch, Guppy.
She has recently fitted the boat with new cushions inside, a new sail - both in her favourite colour, red - and a sunshade.
Ms. Dekker and her supporters have carefully plotted a route that will see her take almost two years to hop from port to port around the world. They have also mapped out an alternative path around Africa to avoid the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, if necessary.
Despite the meticulous preparations, the Council for Child Protection applied to the court last week for 12 more months of supervision for Laura, who lives with her father. A spokesman said the government agency remains concerned about her mental and physical development during such a long and lonely trip.
The fact that the welfare workers who have monitored her education and preparations for months believe she is ready has given Ms. Dekker hope, she wrote on her blog.
“If everything works out the way I want, I can leave for Portugal sometime in the next two weeks and sail further from there,” she wrote.
Sailing is in Ms. Dekker’s blood. She was born on a yacht in New Zealand waters while her parents were sailing around the world and holds New Zealand and Dutch passports.
While her father has always backed Dekker’s plan, her mother initially opposed it, before giving her daughter her blessing earlier this year.
Mr. De Lange said that if Ms. Dekker is allowed to set off and makes it around the world in two years she will still become the youngest person to accomplish the feat, beating the mark set by Australian 16-year-old Jessica Watson.
Ms. Watson spent 210 days successfully maneuvering her 10-meter (34-foot) yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady, around the world, encountering raging storms and 12-meter (40-foot) waves along the way.
The risks of such solo voyages were highlighted last month, when a 16-year-old California girl, Abby Sunderland, had to be rescued from her solo round-the-world trip after a rogue wave snapped her mast in the Indian Ocean.
Ms. Sunderland was rescued by a French fishing boat more than 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) west of Australia two days after the alarm was raised.