Saturday, August 29, 2009

13 is too young to circumnavigate solo

Well I think so anyhow. There's time enough in life to circumnavigate later, but childhood and school can only happen once. And if it was my niece I wouldn't want her out in those stormy waters, alone.

Click above to see another story on junior circumnavigators from Alex Thomson on the excellent Channel 4 News.


Carol Anne said...

Since I'm on a dial-up connection at the moment, I can't watch the video, but based on the bits I saw on the television news, I agree with you -- not so much based on the girl's chronological age, but her lack of maturity, both physical and mental.

I have seen 13-year-olds who are big and brawny and confident and who probably could sail around the world solo in a 24-foot boat if given the chance (but they won't ever get that chance because they're supporting their family by working while their dad is in jail and their mom is strung out on meth).

But this little girl from the Netherlands is definitely not big or strong enough to handle a boat in rough conditions, or self-assured enough not to panic in a tough situation. From looking at her, I would have assumed that she's 9, not 13. She's tiny, and at least on the news clips that I saw, she's shy and insecure.

I've seen 13-year-olds who would be up to the journey, but this girl isn't one of them.

JP said...

I hear her case is currently being reviewed by experts appointed by the court to see if she has the right psychological strength for the task and we'll find out what the decision is in a few weeks.

The parents have threatened to take her overseas to start somewhere else...hmmm... not sure about their priorities here.

Does she really have to go now not in a few years?

Pat said...

Though a few thirteen-year-olds would likely have the toughness to handle a circumnavigation, this one doesn't seem to and the whole affair seems odd or warped.

Now, were I to see a thirteen-year-old on the telly,
* without mummy and daddy hovering nearby,
* who had already completed long-distance solos in rough waters,
* with excellent training and preparation including emergency medicine and safety expertise,
* and demonstrated outstanding athleticism, quick wits, enormous motivation, and demonstrated mental fortitude,
* who showed respect for the challenge
* and was doing the circumnavigation for some highly worthy cause,
that would be another story.

At a minimum, I'd expect a voyager this young to have completed

180 days of sailing, including 80 days of voyages out of sight of land, at least 40 of these days solo, with at least one passage of minimum duration 10 days and minimum length 1000 nm,

with knowledge and ability equivalent to RYA Yachtmaster or similar, full ability to repair and jury rig all yacht systems, advanced swimming and self-rescue skills including completion of in-water drills in varying conditions, and successful completion of tests for mental aptitude and stability,

voyaging in an over-engineered, well compartmented yacht, with positive buoyancy, superior stability measures, hull and rig reinforcement, and a full panoply of well-tested safety gear and maintenance spares, tools, and supplies,

with arrangements made for continuing academic progress.

That's all. Then I'd be perfectly happy to let the thirteen-year-old take the wheel for a spin around the seven seas.