Dutch girl, 13, blocked from global solo sail

Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:55pm EDT
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By Aaron Gray-Block

UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - A 13-year-old Dutch girl's plans to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world were temporarily blocked on Friday when a court placed her under state supervision for two months.

Laura Dekker, who was born on her parents' boat in New Zealand and spent her first four years at sea, had intended to begin a two-year voyage on September 1 on her 8.3 meter (27 ft) yacht Guppy.

"I'm not scared because I know that I can do it and my boat is good," she said in an interview with state broadcaster NOS, when asked about the court ruling.

"...It's basically stayed about the same, only it will take a little longer," she added.

In a case that captured the attention of the sea-faring Dutch, child welfare authorities said it would be irresponsible to let her depart. A court in Utrecht agreed the trip posed risks to Dekker's psychological development.

The court stopped short of removing custody from her parents, who support her planned trip, and she will stay with her father, who will share custody with the state.

The court ordered a psychologist and child protection authorities to examine how she would cope alone on the boat.

The ruling came a day after British 17-year-old Mike Perham became the youngest person to sail around the globe single-handed after nine months at sea.   Continued...