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The Doogie Howser of Sailing

A 14-year old girl from the Netherlands, named Laura Dekker, recently set sail on the first leg of a global circumnavigation attempt, most of which she’ll attempt to sail solo. This concerns me on a number of different levels.

First, she’s making the rest of us look bad. The greatest ambition I had as a 14-year-old was to see Melissa Airwood naked. And most American kids today think the Wii Sailing game is a bit too adventurous. Take it down a notch, Laura, you’re setting a dangerous precedent here.

Second, what sort of parents let their 14-year-old kid sail around the world solo? My parents wouldn’t even let me go to the mall by myself at 14, and they were the “cool” parents in our town. I’m all for an individual “pursuing their bliss,” but there’s got to be a prerequisite age for this sort of thing. Isn’t there a guy standing at the port in the Netherlands with a ruler that says, “you have to be this tall to set sail here”? I mean, there are pirates, and big freaking waves, and dehydration and sleep deprivation, and did I mention the pirates? Pirates! She’s 14! Don’t think sailing around the world is dangerous? Just ask the 16-year-old girl who recently capsized during her attempt.

Dekker’s not even old enough to get a tattoo in most countries. How can she be a sailor without a tattoo? And won’t a circumnavigation of the globe cut into the school year?

I have no doubt that Laura Dekker is an amazing young woman who, if she lives through this journey, will undoubtedly accomplish great things. But Laura, what’s the rush? Start a sailing club at your school, or get a summer job on a ship, or do anything that doesn’t put you at the mercy of squalls, great white sharks, and pirates. Pirates!

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