When we ran our "Unborn Fetus to Sail Around the World" piece we we’re only half-kidding. The recent rush to be the youngest sailor to go around the world is a bit bizarre and now has taken an even stranger turn. A 13 year-old Dutch girl, Laura Dekker, wants to be the next. Her parents think it’s a fine idea, but the Dutch child protection agency says it isn’t and has taken the parents to court because according to Dutch law everyone under 16 needs to be in school in the Netherlands. They want to suspend the parents parental custody, which seems to be a bit punitive.
But that isn’t really the point. The point is what in the hell are the parents thinking that it is okay for their 13 year-old daughter to sail solo around the world? 13? Sure, she’s a good little sailor, lot’s of experience, blah blah. But 13 is still just 13. It’s parentally irresponsible to send her off at that age. In the culture of starting kids off in sports earlier and earlier, this is no real surprise, but it doesn’t mean it’s okay. In truth she’ll be part of a larger rally, so the sailing around the world ‘solo’ record really doesn’t apply when she has a ‘support’ fleet around her, does it? And that makes the rush to send their daughter off to set a record that really won’t be a record even more ridiculous. We don’t like the idea of any government telling people what to do when it comes to their freedoms, but this is about a kid, and at what point does something need to be done? If the answer is at no point, then all bets are off. But when people are too stupid to make the most basic correct decisions, then you are just asking for big brother to step in. And they have.
As a parent, my answer would be "Sorry sweetie. Let’s take a look at this again in a few years."
You’d think a site called Sailing Anarchy would support the idea of a 13 year-old going around the world, but this one is a no brainer. The point is 13 is too young. Because if 13 is okay, then 12 is too. Or 10. How about an infant? Fetus, anyone?