Last week, a Dutch court ordered a 13-year-old girl be put into the care of the social system while consideration was given to her attempt to be the youngest person to sail around the world.
She reacted by saying that she would fly to New Zealand – where she was born – and start her journey from there, a move encouraged by her father, an experienced sailor.
Has the world gone mad?
Anyone who has sailed the oceans knows how scary the sea can be. I remember the look on Don Mcintyre's face as he video taped himself taking on Cape Horn in the 1990 BOC Around the World Alone Race. He was in tears at the time and the fear he was expressing was no act. From a personal point of view, I have sailed in Bass Strait with 50-80 knots on the nose in a thirty footer for two days and even with two other experienced crew members, I felt absolutely terrified at times. The English Channel in a force 7 was no picnic either.
This whole 'I'm younger than you' business started in 1998 when Jesse Martin at 17 years old completed a solo circumnavigation on the S&S 34 Lionheart. This was just six months after one of the most experienced sailors in the world, Eric Taberly, lost his life when he fell overboard from his yacht off the coast of Wales, while sailing to Ireland.
Martin's record was challenged recently by Californian Zac Sunderland who was several months younger than Martin. Before his record could be ratified, Englishman Mike Perham – two months younger than Sunderland – has just completed his circumnavigation to take the crown aided and abetted by the Guinness Book of Records.
However that record is due to be challenged by 16-year-old Queenslander Jessica Watson. She intends to take on the might of the ocean in her 10.2 meter sloop 'Pink Lady'.
16-year-old, Jessica Watson – Pic courtesy Sunshine Coast Daily
The ink has only just dried on the notice of that intent and up pops 13-year-old Laura Decker, the Dutch girl who wants to rewrite the record book.
Enough of this lunacy.
The ocean is not a playing field. It is an unrelenting, unforgiving element that enjoys taking lives at regular intervals and makes no allowances for gender, age or – in a number of cases – experience. It should be respected. Allowing children (who are not even old enough to hold a driving license) to set off on journeys that could quite easily take their lives, let alone involve a huge rescue effort if injury is involved is total madness and authorities need to draw the line.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with Captain Cranky?