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Laura Dekker, 14, Completes First Leg of Solo Sailing Trip

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old Dutch girl, has completed the first leg of her solo trip around the world. She posted a note on her Web site on Wednesday, saying she'd reached the Canary Islands.

"It was a great first stage that I can look back on with a good feeling. Sleeping, eating, navigating and all the other things on board went well," she wrote. "I'll have to look at land for a while now, but with the beautiful weather and great view here that will be fine."

In July, Dekker won a court ruling saying she could sail solo as long as her parents agreed to let her go. If she completes her two-year round-the-world trip by September 2012, she'll be the youngest person to sail the world by herself. Earlier this year, Abby Sunderland, 16, failed in her attempt to sail around the globe, while Australian 16-year-old Jessica Watson made the trip in 210 days.

Dekker is taking the trip slowly. She's waiting in the Canary Islands until the end of the hurricane season, and she's using the land-locked time to catch up on schoolwork. The next leg of her journey will take her to the West African Cape Verde islands, and then to the Caribbean.

In order to get the Dutch court to agree to her trip, Dekker bought a bigger, sturdier boat than the one she'd originally been planning on using. She also took courses in sleep deprivation management and first aid.