Byline: LOG NEWS SERVICE
LOG NEWS SERVICE — Laura Dekker, the 16-year-old Dutch girl hoping to become the youngest person to sail solo around-the-world, has reached Cape Town, South Africa.
Dekker arrived in Durban on South Africa’s eastern coast Nov. 11, after sailing nonstop some 6,000 miles across the Indian Ocean from Darwin, Australia in 47 days.
After waiting several days in Durban for strong southerly winds to subside, Dekker sailed southward, rounding Cape Agulhas at the tip of South Africa Nov. 26. Then, sailing northward past the notorious Cape of Good Hope, she finally arrived in Cape Town Nov. 27.
On her website, Dekker reported she had rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 16-foot breaking waves with her sailboat — Guppy — sailing at 8 knots under the storm jib only. The 35-knot winds that were forecast soon turned to 40 knots, then to 45 knots and finally to 50 knots, with 55 knot gusts, she said.
Dekker’s position and destination had been a closely guarded secret since she sailed from Darwin, Australia Sept. 25, because of the risk of pirates monitoring her location.
News of her safe arrival in South Africa revealed that she has chosen the longer but safer route home — around the southern tip of Africa and northward along the western coast of Africa, back to her starting point at Gibraltar — rather than chance encountering pirates on the shorter route through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, to the Mediterranean.
Since setting sail from Gibraltar Aug. 21, 2010 aboard her 38-foot ketch, Dekker has successfully sailed across the Atlantic, the Pacific and now the Indian Ocean.
Unlike the other teens that have recently sailed solo around the world, Dekker has taken time to enjoy her trip.
Dekker celebrated her 16th birthday in Darwin Sept. 21 before setting sail across the Indian Ocean. She said that she plans to complete her voyage in May 2012 while she is still younger than Australian Jessica Watson — the present unofficial record holder — was when she completed a 210-day solo nonstop circumnavigation in May 2010.