Kerre Wooodham: Creating waves for solo sailor

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In this day and age, when any attempt to prevent people killing themselves or causing themselves long-term physical harm is slammed as political correctness gone mad, it's easy to see why Laura Dekker and her dodgy dad have their supporters.

Laura is the 13-year-old from the Netherlands who wants to sail solo around the world, and she has the wholehearted support of her divorced parents.

To be fair, Laura was born on a boat and, according to her parents, she has been sailing since she was 6.

But come on. How much hoisting of mainsails and fastening of mizzens can you do at 6?

The Dutch Council for Child Protection is so alarmed at the plan it has asked a court to grant it temporary custody of Laura so it can prevent the trip taking place.

And why should a barking-mad plan for a 13-year-old to circumnavigate the globe in a 7m yacht interest New Zealanders? Because if the Dutch court does indeed accede to the welfare agency's request, the Dekkers are coming to New Zealand to claim Laura's residency.

Laura was born on a yacht in New Zealand coastal waters, and has a New Zealand passport and that, say the Dekkers, gives them the right to set sail from Aotearoa.

However, CYF, the Department of Internal Affairs and Maritime Safety NZ say that, in all probability, they'd stop her setting sail, too. Party poopers.

Laura can't understand the fuss, and says all she wants to do is travel the world and live freely. Well, yeah. We all want to do that, sweetheart. I want to do it now, and I especially wanted to do it when I was 13 years old and living in Waihi.

I wanted to write and I couldn't understand why my parents wouldn't let me just travel the world and live freely so I could translate my experiences into meaningful literature that would impact on the New Zealand psyche.

As it was, my wise parents prevented me from fulfilling my desires, and, for that, I am deeply grateful. As I'm sure is the literary community.

Being 13 is all about thwarted desire. That's why being old is so cool.

You get to do things and take chances and risk your life - it's one of the perks of being an adult.

At 13, you haven't had enough of a life to risk it - and surely your parents aren't so hungry for the book deal and the corresponding move tie-in that they'd want you to risk it, either.


- Herald on Sunday

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