Missing Dutch sailor girl found on Caribbean island

Missing Dutch sailor girl found on Caribbean island

Missing Dutch sailor girl found on Caribbean island

The Dutch Council for the Protection of Children said on Sunday that Laura Dekker, 14, had been found on the Caribbean island of St Martin after being reported missing by relatives in the Netherlands last week.

“We found her,” council spokesman Richard Bakker said. “She is still on St Martin and she is in the custody of police.” Bakker said the council and the Dutch government were working to have Dekker returned to the Netherlands as soon as possible, but a decision had not been made on where she would stay on her return.
“She is in good health,” police spokesman Bernhard Jens said.

The police said Dekker went missing on Thursday and that the child welfare authorities alerted the police on Friday night. The police then asked the authorities to monitor international airports. Born on her parents’ boat in New Zealand, Dekker spent the first four years of her life at sea and had intended to start a two-year solo voyage round the world on her 8.3-metre yacht Guppy on September 1, when she was still 13.
Dekker’s plans captured the attention of both international media and the seafaring Dutch, but a Dutch court blocked her departure and placed her under state supervision, saying the trip posed risks to her safety.

“You can say that her dream was broken into pieces and all the attention that this caused is, in my opinion, never good for a girl of 14,” said Elly Laanen, chairwoman of the Utrecht child welfare office.

Dekker is reported to have left a letter for her father — whom she lives with — before disappearing. She also withdrew 3,500 euros ($5,000) from her bank account, Dutch media said.

Bakker said officers from the children’s protection council would travel to the Antilles, where they would meet Dekker and bring her home to the Netherlands.
He did not know why Dekker — who has dual Dutch and New Zealand nationality — had opted to travel to St Martin.

Dekker’s mother Babs Muller, who has lived apart from Laura and her father since Laura was six, said she thought her daughter was technically capable of making a round-the-world trip but she was worried about her safety in ports and psychological isolation at sea.