PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - A 15-year-old Dutch sailor yesterday completed the longest leg so far of her attempted circumnavigation of the globe, saying it felt "really weird" to be back on dry land after nearly three weeks out in the ocean.
Laura Dekker, aiming to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, was in good spirits after completing the 2,200 nautical-mile (2,532 land-mile, 4,074-kilometer) trip from the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa.
"It's really weird. It's not moving and not bouncy," she told the Associated Press as she tried to find her land legs while strolling in flip-flops along a sidewalk to the Dutch territory's immigration office. "I don't think I can live in a house at the moment."
Dekker started her trip from Gibraltar on Aug. 21 and spent two months in the Canary Islands waiting for the hurricane season to pass. She left the Cape Verde Islands on Dec. 2.
Dekker's venture stirred debate about whether young people should be allowed to sail oceans alone. A Dutch court originally blocked the voyage.
Dekker bought a bigger, sturdier boat than the one she originally planned to use, fitted it with advanced navigation and radar equipment, and took courses in first aid and coping with sleep deprivation.
In the end, the Dutch court ruled it was up to her parents, who are divorced. Dekker was born on a boat off New Zealand while her parents were sailing around the world.
On a recent blog posting, Dekker said she "regularly wakes up after only one hour of sleep" and was looking forward to sleeping through the night while in St. Maarten.