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LAURA DEKKER: Arrived in South Africa

Laura Dekker under sail

Did I call it, or what? In my last post on the mysterious whereabouts of Dutch teen sailor Laura Dekker I predicted she would next appear in Durban or Port Richards, South Africa. And now comes word that she has in fact safely arrived in Durban after sailing 47 days non-stop (over 5,500 nautical miles) singlehanded from Darwin, Australia.

First things first: Good on ya, Laura! This is a very significant achievement for any sailor, regardless of their age or gender. I encourage all WaveTrain riders to read the blog on Laura's website for a (more or less) complete account of the passage.

Next let us descend into picayune analysis. Apparently, Laura arrived in Durban on November 12 (Saturday), according to Wikipedia (always the first place I check for late-breaking news). This, however, implicitly, though not directly, contradicts a blog post by John Vigor, dated November 13, which quotes an e-mail correspondent in South Africa:

Laura Dekker, the 16-year-old Dutch girl arrived last week. I spoke to her yesterday when I went down to do some work on my boat. I asked her if she needed assistance with anything and all she wanted was to know where the nearest laundromat is. I didn't spend long enough with her to get much of an impression, other than that Laura is very self-assured and seems to be enjoying herself.

A couple of online news reports cite an announcement made today by Dekker's agent, Lyall Mercer, regarding Laura's arrival, without stating an exact arrival date.

I first got word that Laura was coming in (or had come in?) when some mysterious anonymous comments to my last post regarding Laura appeared here on WaveTrain. The first, dated November 13 (yesterday), states that Laura was due to arrive in South Africa "tomorrow."

The next, dated today and authored by a different anonymous entity, takes me to task (albeit mildly) for suggesting that Laura's secrecy regarding her destination might be calculated to gain attention and advises it was in fact the Dutch government that set the ground rules for publicity on this leg of Laura's voyage around the world.

I am very willing to believe that the Dutch government, when granting Laura permission to embark on her odyssey, did in fact stipulate that she go south around Africa rather than north. I'm also willing to believe they insisted that details of her route across the Indian Ocean not be published while she was underway. But I do not believe they had anything to do with what was obviously a very deliberate attempt to encourage speculation that Laura might be headed through the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden.

Laura Dekker website illustration

I must confess I am tempted to suspect that the anonymous comments to my last post were put up by Lyall Mercer and/or Laura's father Dick. I certainly wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that they (particularly Mercer) are more interested in Laura's publicity than she is.

Again, I say to Laura: You go, girl. I've always believed you are more into the journey than the fanfare.

Note: The image at the top of this post is from a documentary film about Laura, Maidentrip, currently scheduled to be released next summer. Many thanks to the film's producers for permission to run the photo.

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