Mom: Daughter not ready yet

Updated: September 5, 2009, 10:19 AM ET
Associated Press

AMSTERDAM -- The mother of a 13-year-old girl whose hopes of becoming the youngest sailor to circle the globe solo were put on hold by a Dutch court says she opposes the voyage.

Babs Muller was quoted in the Volkskrant daily as saying her daughter, Laura Dekker, has the technical capability to make the trip but the girl is not yet mature enough to deal with the psychological challenges of two years of being on her own.

"If it were up to me, Laura wouldn't go," Muller told the paper.

"She can sail like the devil, that's not the problem," she said. But Laura "is not yet grown up."

It was the first public comment on the planned voyage by Muller, who earlier had been reported to be unopposed to the trip. She is divorced from Laura's father.

A court last week ordered Laura placed in the custody of child care authorities for two months, and appointed a child psychologist to report on her capacity to cope with the risks of the voyage and possible harm of long isolation during such formative years.

Laura's father, Dick Dekker, was in court for the decision but did not speak to reporters. Muller did not attend the hearing on Laura's case.

In the interview, Muller said she was worried about her daughter's safety in ports in some developing countries.

"I have never in my life had to make such a difficult decision," she was quoted as saying, but she did not want to risk not seeing her daughter again.

Muller and Laura's father sailed the world together for seven years, and Laura spent her first four years on a boat. She was born in New Zealand.

If she were to complete the voyage, Laura would break the record set one week ago by 17-year-old Mike Perham of Britain, who sailed 28,000 miles in nine months.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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