Sunday, January 22, 2012


(CNN) - Some 518 days after she first set off alone in her sailboat, 16-year-old Laura Dekker glided into a Caribbean port on Saturday to complete her historic, and controversial, voyage around the globe.  The Dutch citizen arrived in Sint Maarten around 3 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).  While other teens have made similar sea voyages - some of them without stopping, as Dekker did - the Dutch girl unofficially appears to be the youngest to do so sailing alone. In 2010, Australian Jessica Watson finished a non-stop, unassisted solo circumnavigation days before her 17th birthday. Her route was less than 21,600 orthodromic (or, in the same direction for a great circle) nautical miles, which is the length of the equator and the distance generally used for round-the-world sailing records. Dekker states on her website that she traversed about 27,000 nautical miles on her own solo voyage aboard her 38-foot yacht, which she has dubbed Guppy.

The teenager made a trip with stops that sound like a skim through a travel magazine: the Canary Islands, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, Australia, South Africa and now, St. Maarten, from which she set out on Jan. 20, 2011.  She had altered her route and headed around South Africa toward Sint Maarten to avoid pirates.  The trip almost didn’t happen - not because of problems at sea, but rather due to a high-profile legal fight by Dutch authorities to prevent the teen from setting sail, for her own safety.  In October 2009, a Dutch court ruled the girl couldn’t sail around the world because she was not considered experienced enough to do so. But it left the door open for a future trip, deciding that she could depart if she fulfilled certain requirements the court had established for her.  Laura did what the authorities require, and she finally arrived in St. Maarten after struggling against high seas and heavy winds.

Laura Dekker, 16, arrived in the island of Sint Maarten after her voyage around the globe.  She was at sea or in port for 518 days and traversed 27,000 nautical miles.  “There were moments where I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing out here?’ but I never wanted to stop,” she said. “It’s a dream, and I wanted to do it.”  She also fought against Dutch authorities who didn’t want her to sail. Tapah (austerity) and Acāpalam (determination) are good for everyone because in the end our efforts are rewarded.

“To serve the spiritual master the disciple should learn cleanliness, austerity, tolerance, silence, study of Vedic knowledge, simplicity, celibacy, nonviolence, and equanimity in the face of material dualities such as heat and cold, happiness and distress.” Tapah, or “austerity,” means that despite the irrational impulses of the mind, one should remain fixed in executing his proper duty in life. Specifically, one must control burning anger and the urge for wanton sex life. If a human being does not control the impulses of lust, anger and greed, he loses his power to understand his actual situation. Human life is a golden opportunity to solve the overwhelming problems of birth, death, old age and disease. ... One must remain in his prescribed duty and not become impatient or unregulated due to the waves of lust, anger and greed.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Śrīla Hrdayananda dasa Goswami

Śrīmad Bhāgavatam - Canto 11: “General History”
Chapter 3: “Liberation from the Illusory Energy”
Verse 24 - Bhaktivedanta VedaBase

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