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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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14 Year Old Girl Risks Life at Sea Alone!

The world is crazy! This morning I read in the news that a 14-year-old Dutch girl, Laura Dekker, headed out to sea from Portugal in the hopes of becoming the youngest person to sail ALONE around the world. If you were to ask me, I would say her parents should be locked up and the child placed in protective custody. I would question the judgment of an adult and experienced sailor who would attempt such an unnecessary stunt. But this is only a teenage girl who should be entering the eighth grade. I do not care if she wants to do it or not. Parents who take their responsibilities seriously must sometimes say NO to kids! She is not even legal age for a license, let alone for such a perilous disregard for her life. Do her parents and manager think they will get famous and share big money for her adventure? I noticed from the story that they are trying to sell the rights to the videos of her trip. Here is voyeurism taken to the extreme. Given the clamor these days about child abuse, and rightfully so, does no one else see this as exploitive and hurtful? If this is not child endangerment then I do not know what is. I would hope if she survives to reach American waters that the Coast Guard would intercept her and take her butt back home where it belongs.

The latest word is that her communications equipment is malfunctioning. She is making her trip in a 38 foot long ship called, “Guppy.” The trip will take over a year! The truant officer is going to have his work cut out for him when she fails to report to school. Homeschooling requires a parent teacher and she has no supervision at all. The Dutch child protection services rightfully questioned such insanity. This girl will have to travel the world’s oceans alone, in a ship made for far shorter excursions when fully staffed.

I guess the courts are a disappointment all around the world. We criticize them here at home on matters like abortion and the Dutch court releases the girl in question from the secure guardianship of Dutch child protection services. The agencies were reasonably fearful for her safety and psychological health. No sooner was she released last month, she was spirited away, said goodbye to her dad and friends, and set sail from an undisclosed Portuguese port on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

One supporter argued that the kid was mature for her age and had passed a maritime examination given in the Netherlands. Whoopee! I can fly a kite; maybe I should tie rockets to my backend and shoot for the moon? No, I do not think so. Seriously, she might have grown up on boats with her father, but the key term forgotten here is “with her father.” This young girl is now alone on the seas. Most grown men would panic at such a prospect. There is not simply the issue of the inherit danger and challenges: mechanical failures, abrupt weather changes, etc. But what effects might there be upon her own mental health in being alone for so long? What kind of lasting effects might it have on one so young? If this girl gets hurt or worse yet, dies— I suspect there will be a lot of “passing the buck” and finger-pointing. But her father (and mother, if she is around), her manager, and the Dutch courts will be guilty of abuse and murder.

The Guinness Book of Records reported that they will have nothing to do with it. Concerned about the health and lives of children, they no longer record the attempts of the “youngest” sailors. I would recommend that we all keep this young girl in our daily prayers. If her own parents will not protect her, we can commend her to the watchful eyes of our heavenly Father.

What do you think?

How young might this crazy business ultimately go?

7 Responses

  1. This is indeed crazy. Everyone – almost everyone this day is doing everything to become famous within the shortest possible time. LORD have mercy on us. Amen.


  2. I couldn’t possibly agree with you more.

    When I was growing up, I thought there were too many “no’s”, too many rules, too much discipline. But now, at the age of 58, I see that each of these was full of love… the love of parents who wanted only the best for me.

  3. I believe her itinerary puts her in transit between the Canary Islands and Barbados during hurricane season.

    Now that’s good planning!

  4. I agree with you Father – completely nuts!

    But I’m swinging in to say that your comment above about “…an epidemic of teenage girls playing Megellan…” had me laughing so hard I had to make a run to the restroom! LOL!
    Thank you for the smiles and laughter! 🙂

  5. Father Joe, I think you said it pretty clearly. This is nuts. Where is her mother?

  6. As the age gets younger for the record, so must the kids get smaller. How far do we take the absurdity?

    CLICK this LINK and see possible shades of the future… maybe, maybe not?

  7. Father ~ She actually did run into trouble, can’t remember what it was (think it was a massive storm that cause mechanical trouble). the closest help to her was something like 300 or 400 miles away, so it took quite awhile for fleets from several countries to find and rescue her. Her trip was thus abandoned and she is back home safely. If you keep looking, you’ll probably find the info on what happened.

    I unfortunately can’t recall the details, and was as outraged at this idiocy as you are.

    FATHER JOE: Sorry, but you are confusing the girls. We have an epidemic of teenage girls playing Magellan in heading out to sea in attempts to circle the earth. This blog post is about a different girl and she just left port today. The girl you are talking about was 16 year old Abby Sunderland from the United States. Her attempt failed. The record is held by Jessica Watson from Australia who was 16 years old. I can see the headlines in a few years, “Young Toddler Ariel Circumnavigates Earth in her Plastic Car Safety Seat!”

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