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Going In:

Sailing hits a lot of high points for me: a graceful and elegant mode of transportation, interesting physics, and it’s one of those interests where you can start simple+cheap and get as complicated+expensive as you want. (At least the wind is free!)

Personally, I enjoy kayaking through the alligator- and shark-infested waters of Florida, but I’m deathly afraid of deep water at night. I’m sweating just thinking about it. Seriously.


Maidentrip is a mostly self-shot documentary following Dutch teen Laura Dekker as she becomes the youngest person (16 years old) to sail around the world solo.

The film cuts back and forth between footage of the long journey, and events leading up to it. Before wind could be put to the sail, Dekker had to fight the Dutch authorities to be allowed to undertake the voyage. The child welfare office of Netherlands took her family to court to block her trip, believing the risky venture rose to the level where the law should step in.

Much of the film is spent digging into how Dekker got to this extraordinary point so early in her life. She had a unique upbringing, and her parents (now divorced) have sailed around the world. She spent the first 2 years of her life living on a sail boat, has been sailing herself since the age of 6, and has gotten into trouble on a number of occasions for traveling well beyond where the typical Dutch child would be allowed.

As to the technical details, I plead ignorance when it comes to ocean-going vessels and record-breaking. I can say that the ship looked awfully small for something that’s supposed to circumnavigate the globe. Luckily, she had plenty of time to cement her record and was able to move at a leisurely pace to avoid bad conditions and mentally recover. In all, the trip lasted approximately 1 1/2 years, with Dekker being alone at sea often for weeks at a time.  Here’s the rough guide to her path:

Netherlands -> Gibraltar -> Canary Islands -> St. Martin -> Panama Canal -> Galapagos Islands -> Tahiti -> Tonga -> Fiji -> Northern Australia -> around the southern tip of Africa -> St. Martin

This path kept her mostly north of the “roaring forties”, an area towards the southernmost end of the hemisphere where constantly-strong western winds make sea conditions very dangerous, especially for such a small vessel.  That aside, there were still dicey waters to navigate, pirates to avoid, and many storms to brave.  After sailing through treacherous conditions around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Dekker was forced to stop for repairs.

The tale of the voyage is great, but Dekker herself is an interesting character study too: on the one hand, a worldly adventurer who is tough and can take care of herself. On the other, she’s still very much a bratty teenager.  And though she is fiercely independent, she still needs and seeks the comfort of parental figures in the sailing communities far away from home.


Maidentrip is a top-notch documentary for sailing buffs and adventure fiends, and a great inspiration for those who fight the “it’s too dangerous” crowd.

See also:  if sailing is your thing, there’s another recent documentary called Deep Water. It tells the story of 1968’s Sunday Times Great Global Race, a challenge to sail around the world (non-stop and solo), with fortune and glory for the sailor who could do it first or fastest.  It’s amazing to see the huge contrast between that race and Dekker’s voyage 50 years later, primarily due to technology.

Maidentrip Review
One of my deepest fears, fought and defeated by a teenage girl like it was a pop quiz.
The Good
  • Young girls get a free upgrade to their role model list
  • Great overview of what it takes to make it around the world
  • Puts your XBox Live achievements to shame
The Bad/Ugly
  • Life at sea looks very similar from one day to the next
  • She makes it look too easy!
6.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author


I'm a video game programmer, just like Chev Chelios. I've loved movies all of my life, favor substance over style, and try to have high standards and an open mind.

  • Justin

    Hat tip to our Texan friend Kurt for catching typos!