News & Views

BARBADOS RUM TOUR: Race Prep

Bridgetown, Barbados

Lucky me. Seems I've been promoted to the Mt. Gay Rum beat, my third excursion to the islands in the last two months. Up top you see the view of the anchorage at Bridgetown from my hotel room, a worthy reward for the hellish treatment I received yesterday at the hands of American Airlines. (May they rot in bankruptcy indefinitely.)

Today I toured the Mt. Gay distillery and bottling facility and might have learned enough to make rum on my own. I look forward to sharing some of the scatalogical details in a future issue of the comic.

Sugar cane field

Mt. Gay distillery

Mt. Gay distillery

Mt. Gay distillery

Mt. Gay rum tasting

And, yes, I also got to drink some rum.

Tomorrow I'm crewing on a boat in the Mount Gay Run Round Barbados Race. Seventy miles all the way around the island; any boat setting a course record in any class gets the skipper's weight in Mt. Gay Extra Old rum. I'll be doing a race report for Sailing Spoken Here, so keep your orbs peeled for that.

MEANWHILE... I wanted to mention that Laura Dekker is expected to reach St. Maarten/Martin tomorrow afternoon, whereupon she will become the youngest person to sail around the world (for a while, anyway).

A huge moment for her, to be sure.

Laura Dekker aboard Guppy

I also wanted to reprint her second-to-last blog post, from Jan. 18, in which she gives her perspective on the Dutch government's efforts to thwart her dream and discusses her future plans. I don't think she's ever publicly said or written this much on the subject before:

Reaching the end of my circumnavigation, I look back with joy at the adventures of the past year. I am also thinking hard, and trying to come to terms with the year prior to my voyage. The Dutch government was not kind to me. As a 13 year old girl, it was never my intention to be the center of world news. From the moment my plans became public, Youth Care and other government organizations tried to stop me. During the first court case, in August 2009, (even before Youth Care had ever seen me, or had spoken to me...), they asked the Judge to take me away from my father and to lock me up in a secure clinic! By doing this they tried to stop me from sailing. Another five court cases followed and another five times Youth Care asked the judge to lock me up. I only wanted to go sailing! Fortunately the judge never honored this terrible request. Over a period of 11 months, I was constantly afraid that Youth Care would lock me up. Also during this period, there were intimidating interviews with Youth Care workers. It was all a frightening and traumatic experience. So often these terrible memories come to me. I can't ignore them. It is painful. Now, after sailing around the world, with difficult port approaches, storms, dangerous reefs, and the full responsibility of keeping myself and Guppy safe, I feel that the nightmares the Dutch government organizations put me through, were totally unfair. I think that the nightmares will follow me for the rest of my life... At sea, I feel comfortable and I come to rest. I especially enjoy the long passages over the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. I hear now that the Dutch government organizations have started causing problems again. I am seriously thinking about not returning to the Netherlands. Of course I will discuss this with my parents. We will make decisions carefully, such as finishing my high school education and making plans for my future. Last but not least, I would like to say that I realize my voyage would not have been possible without the support of all my fans from around the globe and my sponsors. I am very grateful to them and I would like to thank them all! I can't be negative about the Netherlands, a country with so many good people. Because of my past experience with the Dutch government organizations, I have the feeling that it will be very difficult for me to return to the Netherlands. I will complete my solo circumnavigation on the island of Sint Maarten. I am sorry if I disappoint my Dutch fans. What a party it would have been if Hoek van Holland or IJmuiden had been my port of arrival...!!!.. Who knows, it might still happen one day...

Laura

Powerful stuff, to be sure. She is to be commended for sticking to her guns. Maybe she didn't circumnavigate non-stop in the Southern Ocean like Jessica Watson. But she's overcome her own unique set of challenges and has done it with grace and style.

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