The Return of Laura Dekker: The youngest person to solo circumnavigate the world

by Scott Leonard with Zoe Alexander

“At sea, I feel comfortable and I come to rest.”

These are wise words from Laura Dekker, an adventurous Dutch sailor who, at sixteen, just became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world with only cockroaches for company.  A couple of weeks ago, while we were in Saint Maarten, we had the pleasure of welcoming Laura home.  A year and a day after she departed Simpson Bay, she returned safe and sound.

Laura made her solo circumnavigation in a 38-foot two-masted ketch (popular among long-distance cruisers because of an additional sail which allows for improved balance).  She became a mighty sailor; battling the weather, and the efforts of the Dutch government who attempted to stall her journey fearing she was too young to attempt it alone.  Apparently she learned to sail at a very young age.  It was her love of the ocean that inspired her to sail, blog, and do homework while navigating the world.


We met Laura’s boat, Guppy, a half mile out of the harbor in our dingy.  Then- with about 20 other dinghies and a few larger craft- we followed her into Simpson Bay.  It must have been a surreal moment for her as she sailed under the drawbridge with all the mega yachts in the harbor sounding their horns in welcome.  Right inside the drawbridge was the Saint Maarten Yacht Club, which hosted her Welcome Home Celebration.  Their patio, the road, and the rocks on the jetty were crowded with people as she entered.  It was a magical experience.

Visit her site:

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