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Around the World in 519 Terrifying Days

'Maidentrip' circles back to Austin for Doc Nights

By Anne S. Lewis, Fri., Feb. 28, 2014

Around the World in 519 Terrifying Days

Maidentrip should be required viewing for any parent who's ever worried about the safety of their offspring. (That would be most of us.)

Picture, if you will, your own 14-year-old (or yourself, for that matter) alone in a sailboat in the middle of the night, in the treacherous Torres Strait, hundreds of miles from land in any direction, battling a storm with damaging 60-foot waves. Or bobbing adrift in the Indian Ocean, with no wind, able to sail only 24 hours over the course of 12 days. After you've shared experiences like these with 14-year-old Dutch teen Laura Dekker, who sailed around the world – solo – in a 38-foot refurbished ketch, you'll realize you had nothing to worry about. Remarkably, the indomitable Dekker, who was born on a boat during a seven-year trip around the world, had a dream and the blessing of her sea-loving parents (especially her dad), though the Dutch government made a highly publicized (and ultimately unsuccessful) push to put an in loco parentis kibosh on the plan. In the end, Dekker did it: She sailed 27,000 nautical miles around the world in 519 days, by herself, becoming the first 16-year-old to do so.

Filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger, recognizing an irresistible documentary (the film won the 2013 SXSW Audience Award) when she saw one, outfitted Dekker with a couple of cameras, showed her how to use them, gave her some talking points, and then got out of the way, reconnoitering with Dekker at various stops along the way. Dekker is hardly your average teen, surgically attached to her social media hubs. She's incredibly competent and mature and centered for someone her age.

You have to wonder, was it something in the water?


The Austin Film Society presents Maidentrip as part of AFS Doc Nights on Monday, March 3, 7:30pm at the AFS at the Marchesa (6226 Middle Fiskville). Visit www.austinfilm.org for tickets and complete details.

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