Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oops, almost forgot...

Laura Dekker finished her 'round the world trip last week at the age of 16 years and 123 days, meaning she's probably the youngest person to ever do so. You might remember that she was the young lady who Dutch authorities seized from her parents when she announced her plans to circumnavigate the globe, and who allowed her to sail only after over two years of legal wrangling and widespread criticism. Dutch authorities are unrepentant, saying that it was for the best interests of the child that they wanted to crush her dreams like a cockroach.

Of course, whenever a young person does something extraordinary at an early age, the question then becomes "What now?" I mean, if you're a sailor, which this young lady is, what do you do to top sailing around the world? Granted, she didn't sail non-stop, she was never at sea for more than two weeks at a time and had a huge support network of fellow boaters helping her every step of the way, but still. Sailing around the world *again* would be pretty dull.

Some folks go all Glory Days, spending the rest of their life reliving the one time they were something special. Others are like one young local woman who holds one of these records, where she doesn't even mention it unless you directly ask her about it because she's moved on to other things. So I guess it all depends on her, in the end. Huh, who woulda thunk?

-- Badtux the "My glory days are now" Penguin


  1. Some of us have glory days we seek; others of us have a few glory moments enacted upon us. (Ask me about my Navy trainer flight, as an untrained civilian, who used up TWO puke bags.) But there's life after that, and only fools seek to rest upon their laurels.

  2. I pretty much side with the Dutch authorities here. Most adolescents are far too immature to be put in a place where life-and-death decision might be required - and the chances of encountering them alone on the high seas are not trivial.

    This relates not just to emotions, but to brain physiology, which is still physically maturing into one's 20's.

    The only plausible reason for wanting to be the youngest to do something is ego-stroking. Balance that against the risks to her life, and it's a no-brainer.

    JzB the occasionally paternalistic trombonist

  3. JzB, it is riskier to cross the street than to sail one of these modern ocean-going yachts. They're equipped with rescue beacons and they're set up so they'll continue floating if entirely de-masted, all you have to do is batten down the hatches and wait. You might say "but... but... exotic foreign ports!", but the yachting community is quite tight, almost like a large family, and she was never without adult supervision when she made land, she was met at every landfall by multiple people she knew in the yachting community. It might be said that her voyage was rather pointless, but you can hardly say it was dangerous.

    Regarding maturity, it's well known that girls mature faster than boys, and there were definitely some 14 year old girls that I taught who had the emotional maturity to competently handle a life-or-death situation in some area they were expert in. I don't recall any such 14 year old boys, but 14 year old boys are still children -- look at your high school yearbook from your freshman year, the 14 year old boys all look like they're still in elementary school, while the girls all look like they're ready for college.

    In other words, they were right to be concerned about whether her preparation was adequate for the trip she proposed, but taking her away from her father because he committed the crime of helping her with her dream is entirely beyond the pale. It doesn't surprise me that they are unapologetic, though. CYA all the way, yo.

    - Badtux the Dreamer Penguin

  4. As someone who has done a lot of sailing, I can honestly say that it is more dangerous than crossing the street. Sure, technology makes it a lot safer but there is still a LOT that can go wrong, especially when one is by oneself. I know someone who had a harness fail during a race and they went overboard. No biggie when you're in Lake St Claire on a clear day with lots of other boats around. Deadly when you are by yourself in the ocean.

  5. Here is an article I was reading this weekend that comes to mind too. This is just one of a million things that can (and do) go wrong that can easily turn deadly when you are by yourself in the middle of the ocean.

    When Isabel Came


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