Teen sailor's mother drops opposition to sailing trip

Teen sailor's mother drops opposition to sailing trip

The mother of a 14-year-old Dutch girl who wants to sail solo around the world said in an open letter published today that she has given up her opposition to her daughter’s trip.

Laura Dekker’s dream of becoming the youngest person to sail alone around the globe has been thwarted by a Dutch court that last year made her a ward of the state amid concerns over her physical ability and her social development if she is isolated and out of school for months.

But Laura’s mother, Babs Mueller, wrote in an open letter published in the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper that she no longer opposes the voyage.

“I know she can do it. She’s a strong girl who does not give up easily,” Mrs Mueller wrote. “Of course no mother on earth likes it if her daughter goes to sea alone. I will have sleepless nights from the worry, but this is about Laura and how I can help her.”

Last year, Mrs Mueller told another Dutch paper, De Volkskrant, that she opposed her daughter’s trip.

Laura is due in court on Tuesday for a hearing on whether she should remain a ward of the state.

Her mother also wrote that she has lost faith in child care agencies monitoring Laura.

“Laura isn’t a criminal. She just wants to sail,” she wrote.

The dangers Dekker faces were highlighted last month when a 16-year-old California girl, Abby Sunderland, ran into trouble on a solo attempt when powerful waves snapped her mast in the Indian Ocean, prompting a tense 20-hour rescue mission.

Abbie was rescued two days after the alarm was raised, in a land and sea operation that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – much of it borne by the Australian military who spotted her thousands of miles from the nearest land.

Last month, Laura’s lawyer Peter de Lange argued that she has been working to meet 14 conditions imposed by the court nine months ago.

She has obtained a first aid diploma, practised functioning with a lack of sleep, and arranged to follow schoolwork via the internet, he said.

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