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Youngest person ever to circumnavigate the world solo, on a yacht!
16 y.o. attains her goal: "This is my way of life."

"My Christmas gift was the sun shining all day." You could search the world over and never find a schoolgirl who would blog something like this. For more than a year, the challenge for 16 y.o. Dutch sailor Laura Dekker was to sail around the world in her favorite yacht Guppy (11.5 m). Despite strong objections because of her youth, in January 2012 this schoolgirl's dream became a reality.

She started her journey on August 21, 2010. Laura, then 14, set sail from the British territory of Gibraltar on the southeast tip of the Iberian Peninsula. After spending several weeks in the Canaries, she headed to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten, the official launching point of her voyage around the world. She resumed her sailing from St. Maarten on January 20, 2011, heading westbound on a route which would take her round the Cape of Good Hope, thereby avoiding the coast off Somalia and the Suez Canal, regarded as dangerous pirate-infested waters.

This epic journey around the world took 500 days. Once she set sail, there was nothing but sea, sea, sea as far as the eye could see. Day in and day out, just a vast expanse of ocean. "I didn't feel particularly lonely. I was already used to it. Although some can't imagine living without a refrigerator or the internet, for me it's quite normal," she explained, but age, gender, and experience are irrelevant when it comes to bad weather and the turbulent forces of nature. Facing the ocean on your own, the only person you can rely on is yourself. And of course, sometimes there were 50-knot gale force winds (Beaufort wind force 10 on a scale from 0-12, equivalent to a typhoon!) and massive waves, where the severe turbulence made sleep impossible. But this didn't discourage her from thinking things such as "I want to see so many things around the world." She travelled via the Galapagos Islands in the South Pacific, on to Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, and Australia, and bypassed the Indian Ocean. She made port in South Africa, and experienced for the first time the peoples, nature and cultures of each of these lands. She arrived safely back in St. Maarten on January 14, 2012. She had made one of her dreams come true.

The road to set off on this journey was not smooth. In August 2009, when she announced at the age of 13 her intentions to the world, there was strong resistance in Dutch society. Prohibited from sailing by the Child Welfare Office and a family court for the reason that her young age meant she lacked experience, Laura faced difficult circumstances even before setting sail. It was so bad she ran away from home once because of it. In October 2010 though, after a 10-month-long court battle the chance to make her dream come true was finally granted, provided, among other things, changes to the yacht and its facilities were made, and subject to receiving schooling by correspondence.

More important than breaking records

Laura, for whom "sailing is life itself", was born during a seven-year yacht trip by her parents, on a boat in the port of Whangarei, New Zealand. A natural sailor girl, she took the helm for the first time at the age of four. Her first solo trip was in Dutch waters at the age of 11, but at 13 she made the journey to foreign waters.

She ordinarily spends Christmas with family, but that year she was alone at sea. In her blog she wrote, "Cooking a five course meal at sea is something of a challenge and...because of the sea conditions I'll just have to fall back on a very simple Christmas Dinner made out of canned food and that is fine with me – a simple Christmas is a great Christmas to me."

Her solo voyage around the world at the age of 16 years and four months broke the previous record by eight months, but Guinness World Records has a policy of no longer certifying "youngest" records, in order not to encourage young people and their parents to take on dangerous challenges. According to Laura, "I just want to travel to lots of places, and see lots of things. That's more important to me than breaking records." Even though she didn't get a Guinness record, that wasn't important to her. That's because, above all, this is how Laura chooses to live her life.

From Faust A.G. Channel on [YouTube]

the moment she achieved her goal.
*: This video can also be found on Faust A. G.'s YouTube channel. (Recommended for smartphone users.)


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