Teen Girl Close to World Sailing Record

Last year, Aussie 16-year-old Jessica Watson sailed around the world solo. The same year, American Abby Sunderland, also 16, made it from California to the Indian Ocean alone on her sailboat before a rogue wave tore off the mast of the boat, forcing her to end her trip. Since then, another teenage girl took on the sea and now she’s more than halfway finished with her journey.

Dutch teen Laura Dekker is trying to break Watson’s record of being the youngest person to sail around the world solo. After a legal battle with the Dutch government — which initially objected to the teen making the trip — Dekker set off from Gibraltar in August  2010, when she was 14.


Laura Dekker (Marcel Antonisse/AFP/Getty Images)

Now 16, she has spent more than a year sailing the ocean on her 39-foot ketch, named “Guppy.”

Dekker, who has taken several breaks on land during her voyage, told Australian TV she doesn’t mind the solitude of her boat.

“I’m totally used to it,” she said. “For me, it’s really normal!”

Dekker’s father has been quoted as saying she could complete her trip as soon as this February or March. For now, after successfully crossing the Indian Ocean, Dekker’s voyage has taken her to South Africa, where she recently ventured off the  Guppy and regained her land legs to take in the sights at a nature preserve in Port Elizabeth.  Read about her travels at her blog.

Watch the full story on “20/20? Friday at 10 p.m. ET.




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