Solo sailor teen’s mum opposes trip

The mother of a 13-year-old girl who wants to sail solo round the world is opposed to her daughter’s trip, according to an exclusive interview in Saturday’s Volkskrant.

Babs Müller told the paper that while her daughter was technically capable of making the trip, ‘if it was up to me, I would not let her go’. Her daughter is simply ‘not adult enough’ to cope, she said.
13-year-old Laura Dekker was put under court supervision at the end of last month so that social workers can make a proper assessment of the likely affect of her efforts to become the youngest person to sail solo round the world.
The court said it was not yet clear what the affect of the two-year voyage – which will include long periods without direct human contact – would be on Dekker, who is about to turn 14.
Both Dekker’s father and her lawyer have said consistently that both parents back the girl’s plan. Laura’s parents divorced when she was six and she lives permanently with her father.
But Babs Müller told the Volkskrant her daughter had threatened never to see her again if she banned her from going on the trip.
‘It breaks my heart that I may lose contact with her. I have never had to take such a difficult decision… but I would rather that a living daughter that I did not see than a dead one,’ Müller told the paper.
Laura was born in 1995 on board a boat in a New Zealand harbour during a seven-year voyage by her parents.
She started sailing solo when she was six and started dreaming at age 10 of a solo trip around the world. The girl’s lawyer says she has ‘salt in her blood’.
Earlier this year she was picked up by social workers in Britain after sailing alone to the port of Lowestoft. They ordered her father to come and pick her up, saying she was too young to cross the channel alone.
Her mother said she had begun trying to win custody of the girl three years ago after she started making solo trips on the IJsselmeer lake. ‘There were a lot of problems. We were constantly being phoned by police and other worried people,’ Müller’s new partner Anne Grondsma told the paper.
But Laura and her father never appeared in court and the case petered out once she turned 12 and was able by law to chose where to live, Grondsma said.
At last month’s legal hearing, which was brought by child protection officers, judges said they would look again at the case in late October when experts have had time to report back.
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