Laura Dekker’s Misstated Mission
Whenever these would-be youth circumnavigators reach out to mainstream media to announce their activity, I regularly question its relevance for the Scuttlebutt newsletter. But here I am, providing an update that 14-year-old Laura Dekker left Gibraltar, a British territory bordering the southwestern tip of Spain, on Saturday on the first leg of her global journey.
The Dutch sailor is aiming to become - big shocker coming - the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Mounds of criticism have piled on her dream, or whoever it was that planted the seed for her to take on such a mission. Without being judgmental, there are a few things I need to get cleared from my head before changing tacks:
- RECORD: Call it an adventure, call it an achievement, but just don’t call it a record. For there to be records, there needs to be record keepers. There needs to be guidelines to follow, and Laura’s route is unique compared to those that came before her. No honorable record keeping organization wants to administer this ‘youngest’ record category. The World Sailing Speed Record Council and Guinness World Record both say thanks, but no thanks.
- SOLO: I will give that Laura is the only person on the boat, but she will be far from sailing solo. She plans countless stops along her route, and may leave the boat in port for periods of time to fly home. Hardly a test of solo sailing. Of course when she is sailing, she will be connected to her supporters by all forms of communication equipment. Whenever Laura is feeling anxious at sea, she will scarcely be alone.
- SAILING: Maybe Laura should restate her mission to be the ‘youngest person to travel solo around the world’. Call me a skeptic, but will she be sailing through the Panama Canal? Or the Suez Canal? What about the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden. Will she utilize the engine during the countless stops along her route? Or, are we running loose with the term “sailing”? Is Laura onboard the ‘Disney Dream’ cruise ship that will “set sail” from port to port?
I do hope she is successful and is doing this for the right reasons. As for the inclusion of her updates in Scuttlebutt, I will continue to question their appropriateness, and I hope the ‘butthead community does the same. At least you will be aware of her, as the mainstream media will certainly expose your non-sailing friends to her, so perhaps you can provide them some insight too. -- By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
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