[Badass Ocean Women] Globe-Sailor, Laura Dekker

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Dekker

There are women and then there are badass ocean women. These individuals embody the spirit of one of the most special natural resources we have available. After going through this interview feature (three of four), we hope you might consider taking the opportunity to learn more about each of these ladies and their efforts to better things they come in contact with, beyond what we can share in each individual interview.

To bring this to life, we did what any good lover of the ocean would likely do and got creative. For that, we asked these ladies to seek out and interview another sister of the sea. Badass ocean women interviewing badass ocean women. We are pleased and honored to be able to share the third installment of this interview series, featuring globe-sailor, Laura Dekker.

Can you tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to sail around the world? 

I’ve wanted to sail around the world since I was about eight—there was no specific moment. The dream simply grew and  I didn’t know when I was gonna go, how or where exactly. All I knew is I wanted to sail far away—and I needed money, a boat and lots of experience. So, I started working up to those things when I was around 8.

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Dekker

Was there a period of doubt when you started out that you thought you might not be able to pull it off? At what moment did that change for you?  

Sometimes, but then I was never going to find out whether I was capable or not when I would stay at home. I wasn’t afraid to sail—my boat was well equipped with safety gear, and I knew I had prepared the best I could. If I would sink the boat halfway, then that was just too bad. 

Did you have a relationship with God/spirituality/the unknown before you left? If so, do you feel like that helped you? If not, did you gain this relationship through your voyage? 

I didn’t before I left—I did somehow sense there to be a greater being when I was out there, and I did pray sometimes, although I didn’t know who to, so I mostly just talked to the wind and the waves. After my trip, I did become a believer and still am.

…I did pray sometimes, although I didn’t know who to, so I mostly just talked to the wind and the waves.

Were you always comfortable with solitude? What was your relationship to yourself like before leaving versus after completing your journey?

I always got along with myself pretty well—I need the time to think and process things I have seen, people I have met, conversations I’ve had. I wouldn’t want to be alone all the time, but every now and then, I really need it. 

On your next trip around the world, what will you do differently? 

It’s a difficult question because the fact that I want to do things differently now is not because it was wrong the first time. I wouldn’t want to change anything I did the first time (even though there were some dumb moments). But I learned so much from those experiences that it would be a shame not to have done it that way.  

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Dekker

At one point on my own voyage, I felt as if I completed what I’d set out to do. Alongside a sense of satisfaction, I felt a bit lost. Did you experience that sensation at all after completing your mission?

Yes, after passing South Africa, I felt I had completed what I had set out for. I wasn’t too lost because in a way it really felt like my life was just beginning, even though I had already fulfilled the craziest and probably biggest dream I will ever have. This had given me the building blocks to continue life.

What are your new dreams?

To set up a youth sailing program. From my trip around the world, I learned a lot of things, many things that most people don’t ever get to see and experience. I am very thankful for this and feel that through these experiences, I have become much more confident, independent and understanding of our world. I would love to give some of these gifts to teenagers today.

I have come up with plans for a youth sailing program that’s main focus is to teach life skills and character through sailing. We want to take groups of 12 kids on at a time. They will be involved in all aspects of the trip—preparation, cooking, maintenance, navigation, watches, sails, provisioning, etc.

…becoming aware of our environment and experiencing the pleasure of simplicity by showing them that less can be more.

Through the trip, we wish to achieve some core life skills, like teamwork, responsibility, self-confidence, determination, discipline, becoming aware of our environment and experiencing the pleasure of simplicity by showing them that less can be more.

The sailing ship would make port several times along the journey. Explorations ashore may involve activities like hiking, camping, outdoor survival skills, cultural insight, educational components and other activities depending on the possibilities at each port.

We have a lot of ideas on how to run such a program, however, even though the plans, ideas, and motivation are there, we still haven’t managed to find a ship. So, I have started designing a boat of my own that we will have built one day. We’re now looking for sponsors and people able to help us with bringing this next dream to life. It will happen.

Keep up with Laura on her website, www.lauradekker.nl. Thank you, Laura!