Dutch court delays girl's world sailing trip

A Dutch court has granted the state temporary custody of a 13-year-old girl to delay her attempt to becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

A Dutch court has granted the state temporary custody of a 13-year-old girl to delay her attempt to becoming the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

Laura Dekker's parents did not object to her ambitious sailing trip but the Dutch Council for Child Protection has pushed for the journey to be stopped.

The Utrecht District Court ordered state child care authorities to take responsibility of Dekker Friday for two months while she undergoes an assessment by a child psychologist.

Dekker lives with her Dutch father, who is divorced from her German mother. The girl will continue to reside with her father during the assessment.

"We are satisfied with this decision," said Richard Bakker, spokesman for the Council for Child Protection. He urged Dekker's father to "co-operate with the investigation and ensure Laura's safety."

The court battle has attracted international attention and raised questions about parental responsibility when children want to set off on perilous adventures.

Satisfied with decision

The court did not remove Dekker from her current home and it didn't rule out the possibility of the trip, so the family feels it was an acceptable ruling, their lawyer Peter de Lange said.

It supports the idea that "you are not a bad parent if you try to help your child fulfil her dream," he said.

Dekker, who went sailing Friday and was not in the courtroom, also was satisfied with the decision, de Lange said.

"She is happy with the ruling, and now we can prepare this [journey] in a mature and responsible way," de Lange told Reuters.

De Lange said the family is confident that following the assessment, Dekker will be allowed to set sail.

The court will issue a second ruling Oct. 26 on whether to extend the Council for Child Protection's responsibility for the teenager, who will have celebrated her 14th birthday.

Dekker is considering moving to New Zealand if Dutch authorities continue to block her record attempt, de Lange said.

But New Zealand officials have said her journey could be blocked there, too, if it was deemed she was endangering herself or potential rescuers.

Dekker had planned to start her trip in September and to take two years to circumnavigate the world on an eight-metre boat named Guppy.

The court-ordered psychologist will assess Dekker's capacity to undertake the risky voyage.

Born on a yacht

The social workers have argued that Dekker is too young to understand the dangers of the journey and some psychologists believe the two years of isolation could be damaging for her during an important period of her development.

Born on a yacht in New Zealand while her parents were on a round-the-world sailing trip, Dekker spent her first four years at sea. She started sailing solo at six and starting dreaming at age 10 of a solo trip around the world.

"I asked my parents if I could — please — start now," Dekker recently said on a Dutch children's television show.

"In the beginning, they asked if I was sure I really wanted to do it," she said. "They have sailed around the world so they know what could happen and that it's not always fun, but I realize that, too. But I really wanted to do it so my parents said, 'Good, we'll help you.'"

On Thursday, Mike Perham, a British sailor who is 17 years old, finished a nine-month, 38,700-kilometre global round trip in his 15-metre boat.

Guinness World Records created a new category in honour of the British teen — youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo, supported. Perham's father sailed on a boat behind him, but did not assist him.

With files from The Associated Press