Laura Dekker’s sailboat, Guppy, now flies a New Zealand flag from her stern. Laura has struck the Dutch colors as the bureaucrats who tried and initially succeeded in stopping her solo voyage have returned to pester her and her family once more. They are now complaining that Laura has not kept up with her school work. In 2009, a Dutch court blocked Dekker’s planned voyage and put her under the custody of the Council for Child Protection, the Dutch government’s umbrella childcare agency. That order was reversed in July of 2010. One of the conditions of lifting the ban on her sailing was that she would continue her secondary-school education through an online teaching programme set up for Dutch-speaking children abroad. Now Dutch truant officers are upset that Laura has not been doing her homework.
During her voyage, Laura was sufficiently busy with sailing that she fell behind on her lessons. Now Dutch truant officers have demanded a meeting with Laura’s father, Dick Dekker, which he has refused to attend. The Dutch officials are threatening to refer the matter back to the Dutch childcare agency. Laura, however, holds both Dutch and New Zealand passports, as she was born on a sailboat in New Zealand when her parents were cruising the world. Laura Dekker has struck the Dutch flag from Guppy’s stern and has raised the flag of New Zealand. She is currently less than 1700 miles from her next scheduled port of call, St. Martin. The island is controlled by the Dutch and the French. Perhaps she should consider landing on the French side of the island.