She appears to have attempted to change her nationality, and her boat's registration, in mid- voyage in a fit of pique. Her 37-foot Jeanneau ketch now flies the flag of New Zealand.
In 2009, when Laura first announced her plans to circumnavigate the globe, Dutch authorities intervened and insisted she should first finish school. The child welfare authorities brought the case to court and a judge ruled that the then 13-year-old was too young to travel alone. Laura then ran away and took a plane to Sint Maarten, where she was arrested and sent back to the Netherlands.
In July 2010, a judge gave her permission to carry out her plans—provided she agreed to a number of conditions, including continuing her secondary education through an online teaching programme set up for Dutch-speaking children abroad.
But naughty Laura has reneged on that agreement. She hasn't been doing her homework as she promised to.
Officially, Laura does not have to comply with Dutch regulations regarding her education, as she is no longer registered as a Dutch citizen. She holds New Zealand citizenship because she was born there—on a boat—while her parents were sailing around the world.
The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant says the World School, which organises the correspondence course education, is afraid a precedent will be set if they don’t intervene. “Laura is contending with an 80-year school attendance battle. Compulsory school attendance is sacred in the Netherlands.”
There is no doubt that Laura Dekker is greatly self-centered and very stubborn. But she is also very capable, surprisingly mature in many ways, and an excellent sailor. She sailed around the world the easy way, taking the trade-wind route via the Panama Canal, so her accomplishment does not begin to compare with that of Jessica Watson, the Australian who sailed singlehanded and non-stop around the world via the great Southern Capes at the age of 16.
Laura received outside help from her doting father and others at every stop. She received weather routing and advice every day by satellite communication. She appealed for money from the public on her website to help her indulge herself in her selfish dream. She won't win any official record, because records like hers are not longer recognized by any competent authority. But she will publish another book, no doubt make a lot of money, and probably find a job as a professional sailor.
I wonder if the Kiwis will clutch her to their hearts as one of their own? I don't think the Dutch will, now she has kicked her fellow countrymen in the teeth.
Today's ThoughtLoyalty is the holiest good in the human heart.
— Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium
TailpieceA real Scrooge of a yachtsman who was away from home sent his wife a birthday check for one million kisses.
His wife called him and said: "Thanks for the check. The harbormaster cashed it for me last night."
(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)