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Laura Dekker’s next big adventure

by | March 26th, 2017

For Laura Dekker, the youngest sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world, the ocean was never an intimidating place! Instead, it is a place to push oneself, to strive and learn to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us. Sailing Millie Home spoke with Laura to find out what’s next for the intrepid adventurer.

2013 Maidentrip is a riveting documentary that follows 14-year-old Laura Dekker on her two year solo circumnavigation and a truly inspiring watch!

Life lessons from the ocean

It will be seven years in August this year since Laura set sail from Gibraltar on a journey that came from a desire to see the world. Born in New Zealand during her parents’ round-the-world sailing trip, she was an explorer by birth. Quickly learning the ropes from her father, she became independent and mature at a young age – sailing alone at the age of six. Her spirit for life, and her desire to take control of it, is what led her to pursue the controversial solo global circumnavigation, aged just 14.

“I think people were afraid that other kids might want to do crazy things after hearing my story, however most of the kids in my class didn’t even feel the urge to do something like this.”

Determined to see the magic beyond her home in Holland and to prove to herself that she was more than capable of doing it by herself, Laura wasn’t deterred by any of the nagging media attention. The controversy surrounding her age included being too young to captain her own vessel, according to Portuguese law, and was one of many challenges to her voyage. But it was Laura’s tenacity that saw her overcome these, including the ones out at sea. One was sailing across the Indian Ocean, which was especially tough. “The weather was constantly changing and I endured many storms.”

The next adventure

Now aged 21, Laura’s looking for her next big challenge and thinks she may have found it. With a desire to pass on her love for the ocean and the freedom sailing offers, she’s taking steps to set up a youth programme. Offering sailing trips and lessons she hopes she can encourage kids to be more independent in an ever-demanding world.

“The sea is a magical place. For some, it’s just a big mass of blue but to me it’s a lot more than that.”

Today’s kids are born into a social-media-ruled landscape, making it sometimes hard to navigate through life without feeling overwhelmed by the pressures to be connected. Laura herself is not on social media and feels life can teach you more when you throw yourself out there, rather than sitting in front of a screen. With this ethos, Laura wants to help bridge that gap and offer younger generations an opportunity to get out on the water and learn a new discipline.

Focusing on the experiences that stood out for her, Laura wants to share the magic and reward of the ocean that many don’t ever get to experience. However difficult and uncomfortable sailing can be at times, she hopes that by teaching kids how to handle the difficult moments, they’ll also grasp the life lessons the ocean has passed to her. “Like appreciating what you have, how magical and beautiful our world is, and of course, how much fun it is to use only nature’s power to move a heavy ship anywhere you want to go.”

That sense of freedom and control is reinforced by the “amazing night-skies, phosphorescent ocean glow, sea-life, sunsets and forever changing horizons”, which she describes as a gift to those who are brave enough to venture away from the shore. “For me, living on the ocean is so normal. I never even thought of people that didn’t know what it was like. I enjoy sailing alone, but in a way some of the really nice moments are even better when shared with friends, which I found to be a great joy in seeing people find a love for the ocean and sailing as I did.”

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“I learned so many things out at sea that I think would be especially beneficial to youngsters.” Taking away those sub-culture influences that shape today’s adolescents, Laura wants to show how simple life can be – although acknowledges that while out at sea it isn’t always easy. She hopes that by shrinking down the fundamentals of life to core elements like the weather and what next course to align the boat to, the crew will learn new life lessons.

The appreciation that this simplicity brings is what Laura believes will be most beneficial. Not only that but she believes sailing opens people’s minds to different cultures and new ideas in a way “that explores what the world looks like outside of what you know”.

Laura plans to have different legs to the route so that kids can join as crew members at different parts of the voyage. During the journey, Laura plans to teach each crew the basics in sail handling, ropes, navigation (celestial and modern), understanding the weather, and maintenance for rope work, woodwork, the engine, and much more. While learning how to sail will be the focus, her aim will be to coach life skills through teamwork, responsibility, confidence, and awareness.

“I always tried to build my own floating contraptions growing up.”

Her idea is to make port several times along the route, which is still to be decided. Currently, it is planned to happen in Europe and is exploring routes along Norway to England. “Explorations ashore may involve activities like hiking, camping, outdoor survival skills, cultural experiences for educational purposes and more, depending on the possibilities at each port.”

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An endless current of adventure

For now, Laura is currently living in New Zealand with her husband, and says her latest project to start a youth programme is her biggest challenge to date, but nothing is going to put her off. I guess when you’ve sailed around the world in a 40-foot yacht by herself at 14 you can do anything!

When she describes sailing trips filled with stories that illustrate the countless nights spent in the middle of the sea, you can’t help but want to see it for yourself. As she puts it here: “I loved looking at the phosphorescence lighting up the breaking seas on a dark night, or seeing the stars reflected in the ocean on a calm night, so perfect – it felt like I was flying through space.”

We think Laura’s outlook on life is admirable and one we’d agree is worth sharing. If you have kids, be sure to keep an eye out for when Laura launches her first life-lesson-voyage!

Sailing Millie Home
About Sailing Millie Home
We value the simplicity of human interaction. Driven by a desire to share and inspire, Sailing Millie Home is the documentation of our journey through the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean. A creative couple, exploring the world and sharing their stories.

Laura Dekker

“The sea is a magical place. For some, it’s just a big mass of blue but to me it’s a lot more than that.”


Deliver skipper & motivational speaker

New Zealand


Sailing Millie Home met with Pip in the corporate heart of Londons’ business district, Canary Wharf, to find out how she is preparing for a drastic change in lifestyle and handle the ridiculous 14,515m of rope needed to rig one of the sailing yachts during the race.

What are you most looking forward to about the voyage?

Pip I’m looking forward to being in the middle of an ocean and having nothing around me, just the elements, the nature, the wildlife. I had a little experience like that on my level two training when I was on watch in the middle of the night. It was pouring with rain, there was massive waves and I was sitting on the fore deck so I was in-charge of trimming the sails, there was a full moon, and I was just leaning back – cold and wet – and thinking this is really amazing. Just being surrounded completely by nature, no phones, no business and you can actually just think properly. So I think it’s going to be moments like that.

What are you least looking forward to?

Pip I think big storms are going to be really scary. If you let any doubt or fear get in your mind it consumes you. I’m all for vocalising positivity like ‘we’re going to get through this storm’, ‘we’re going to beat this’, ‘we’re going to get the boat through safely’. I’m sure I will have moments where I’m scared, I’m not saying at all that I won’t be, but it’s having that bravery to get through it.

What about leaving behind modern comforts?

Pip I don’t mind, I’m quite happy to not wear makeup. I can’t wait for that! To be non materialistic as well, which is ironic given how expensive sailing is as a sport.I think once you’ve got your basics though, which I’ve got, it’s not about being driven by needing new things. I think I fall into that, not because I think it’s a big a part of me, but naturally, especially living in London where you’re surrounded by people who need to go on holiday and have the latest phone.

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