Jackie: This year a Dutch girl named Laura Dekker became the youngest person to sail solo around the world in her yacht called Guppy*.
Richard: For many people, especially teenagers, she’s a heroine. For others she’s not brave, she’s foolish. So for this week’s podcastsinenglish.com we’re asking if Laura’s adventure was a good or bad thing to do.
Jackie: Well, it certainly was an adventure wasn’t it, Richard? She finished the journey at the age of 16 but she started it on 21 August 2010.
Richard: Yes, a month before her 15th birthday.
Jackie: But in fact… but in fact she wanted to do the journey a year earlier, in 2009, when she was just 13; imagine!
Richard: That time she was stopped by the Dutch government who said she was far too young. Now the journey is over some are saying she was still too young to do it.
Jackie: Well, what do you think, Richard?
Richard: Well, she comes from a sailing family, and has lots of experience, she also seems very adult so I think it was ok.
Jackie: Yes, but she isn’t an adult, Richard, is she? In the UK, for example, you know, you can’t… you can’t make your own independent decisions until you’re 18 when you can vote and er… get married**. You can’t even drive a car until you’re 17 and yet at 14 she started a journey to sail around the world!
Richard: However, the fact that she did it proves she is capable. It’s great that someone is so keen to try such things; we should support them and not stop them.
Jackie: Although she did it I think she was still too young to fully understand the dangers. I mean, luckily there was*** no problems on the journey.
Richard: Yes, but the experience she had on that journey is more than most people have in a lifetime.
Jackie: I agree, but the experience can wait a few years. In the Netherlands, remember she’s Dutch, children should be in full-time education until they're 16. She did very little studying while at sea.
Richard: There’s plenty of time for her to catch up on her education now that she’s back on dry land.
Jackie: I can’t see her returning to the classroom after this, can you? In addition, I think she did it at this age so that she could be the youngest person to sail around the world and… and get some publicity. There are cases of 13-year-olds climbing Mount Everest; I mean, is it a good idea to have children competing like this?
Richard: Her parents supported her 100%, and they know her best. She’s an independent, talented girl because of them.
Jackie: No, I disagree. Allowing your 14-year-old child to sail around the world, solo, is not being supportive. It’s irresponsible; they have more money than sense.
Richard: On the other hand it’s not always safe on land either.
Jackie: True, but I still think it’s better to do this as a young adult and not as a child.
Richard: So what do you the listeners think? Was Laura a brave young woman or a lucky girl who should be at school? Write in and tell us what you think.
* Jackie says Gubby by mistake
** You can get married in the UK at the ages of 16 or 17 but you need your parents’ permission. Not until you are 18 can you do it without their say
*** It’s not unusual in natural speech for native speakers of English to say There was + plural noun and not There were, for example There was lots of things to do last night