Teen begins circumnavigation from Gibraltar

The world’s media gathered in Portimão, Portugal on Saturday to watch Laura Dekker begin her solo circumnavigation.

But Dutch 14-year-old Dekker never appeared and the television company that exclusively holds the rights to her voyage later revealed that she had slipped away in secret from Gibraltar.

Marijke Schaaphok of Masmedia said: ‘She said goodbye to her father and friends and she sailed away into the horizon.’

Her manager Peter Klarenbeek said that the teenager had wanted to avoid the media attention.

Unlike Jessica Watson, the Australian 17-year-old who is currently the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator, Dekker will make multiple stops on her journey with Klarenbeek saying she was expected in the Canary Islands or Madeira, depending on wind conditions, in six to eight days.

She was only allowed to begin her voyage after her and her father triumphed in a 10-month court battle with child welfare authorities who had been trying to stop the attempt going ahead, because of fears for her safety and psychological health.

Her support team and the TV production company will meet her as she arrives in every port on her 37.5-foot Jeanneau Gin Fizz ketch Guppy, as, although she is sailing alone around the world, in most countries she is not considered legally responsible for herself on land and must be accompanied by an adult.

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