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Court Rules No Solo Sailing for Dutch Sailor Girl

  • Lauren Comiteau

A court in the Netherlands has ruled that 13-year-old Laura Dekker cannot sail around the world by herself next month as she'd hoped and has put her in the temporary care of Dutch authorities while it makes a final decision.

For the moment, Laura Dekker's dream of becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the globe has been put on hold. She was not in court, but her father was present for the judges' decision.

Citing potential harm to her development, judges ruled that Laura could still live at home but only under court supervision while an independent child psychologist assesses whether she's able to make the two-year journey.

Laura, who has the support of her parents, had hoped to set sail next month but she now has to wait until at least the end of October when judges will make their final decision based on the child expert's report. The court stopped short of taking custody away from Laura's father as child protection workers had wanted.

They had argued that the trip was far too dangerous for a young teenager to make on her own - from the physical dangers and pirate-infested waters, to emotional isolation and even missed school. Laura dismissed those arguments, saying she would do her schoolwork via e-mail and rest in ports to avoid bad weather.

The experienced sailor wants to sail her 26-foot boat, called Guppy, through the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, Australia and Sri Lanka before returning to Dutch shores in 2011. Just this Thursday, a 17-year-old English boy broke the record Laura's aiming for when he sailed into Cornwall after 282 days at sea and became the youngest person to sail around the globe by himself. Laura may still make her goal, but for now, her story is one of a dream deferred.

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