New Teen Fad: “Let’s Sail Around the World!”

By Gwendolyn Ihrie In late August a 17 year old British boy sailed around the world in 9 months. His name was Mike Pertham and he became the youngest person to sail around the world alone and second to do so before he turned 18. Zac Sunderland completed the feat just months before Pertham returned

By Gwendolyn Ihrie

In late August a 17 year old British boy sailed around the world in 9 months. His name was Mike Pertham and he became the youngest person to sail around the world alone and second to do so before he turned 18. Zac Sunderland completed the feat just months before Pertham returned home.

Now the real story begins as the competition builds up. It may not be the most recognized competitive sport but sailing around the world is starting to become a regular feat for young people. International rivalry is creating an unknown hype for this sport. What was thought of as a job only men were tough enough to perform is now being breached by the courage of many females Everyone wants to be the best and the youngest. The question is, is 13 too young?

A 13 year old girl, Laura Dekker, was recently taken into child protection services in the Netherlands. Her goal is to sail around the world in 2 years or faster, all alone, on a 26 foot long boat named Guppy. The officials that now have guardianship of her don’t believe that a 13 year old has the mental capacity and emotional strength to cope with all of the perils that are included in a two year voyage across the unpredictable and turbulent seas. Who could disagree?!

Remember back to when you were an eighth grader or freshman? Could you have handled being alone for two years and could you keep your cool in extremely dangerous situations like a pirate raid or your boat tipping over? Sunderland had one encounter with modern day pirates but was able to sail away from them before anything happened. Would you have swung your imaginary nun-chucks at them? You would not survive.

Dekker has been sailing with her parents since before she could walk. Earlier this year she sailed from the Netherlands to England alone and caused quite a controversy on how responsible that was for her parents to allow her to do it. She of course would have all of the high tech equipment that would allow her to stay in contact and updated on all the weather that could affect her journey.

Dekker is not the only female in the news for her sailing wishes. 16 year old Australian Jessica Watson is now considering the same task that, recently, so many young adults are trying to conquer. Watson is planning to leave on October 12 from Sydney Harbour and not return for eight months, reports ESPN’S Outside the Lines. The competition to be the best is no longer restricted to within a gender. Watson is working to break the record that her fellow sailing Australian holds. Jesse Martin left on the same trip around the world in 1999 and returned when he was 18. The competiton is of age and who can acheive the title at a younger age.

Is it truly ethical to send people so young and lacking in true experience around the world by themselves in one of the least reliable modes of transportation known to man: the sea?

I would never put myself or my child in so much unpredictable danger as in the hands of the ocean. These kids should be asking “Should I eat the green Jolly Rancher or the green vegetables?” Not “Will I live to see tomorrow?”

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