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Dutch sailor returns home to Netherlands

22 December 09 12:48 GMT

A 14-year-old Dutch sailor discovered on a Caribbean island after disappearing last week has been escorted home to the Netherlands.

Laura Dekker, barred from her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, went missing last Thursday.

A Dutch court is expected to decide if the teen should be removed from her father's care after the incident.

It is still unclear how Miss Dekker managed to make the journey.

Officials say they are mystified as to how she reached the Dutch Antilles island of St Maarten, off the coast of Venezuela, and whether anyone helped her.

"We want to ask her - how did you do it? Did someone help you, and, if so, who?" said police spokesman Bernhard Jens.

The court hearing with Dutch welfare officers is scheduled for later on Tuesday.

Custody hearing

An official at the Utrecht court quoted by news agency Reuters said they were considering removing Miss Dekker from her father's custody.

"Options include placing her into foster care or with her mother," the unnamed official said.

Miss Dekker has been under state supervision since October when a court blocked her bid to be the youngest person to sail the globe solo.

The order remains valid until the end of her school year in July 2010.

A seasoned sailor, Miss Dekker was born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand during a seven-year world trip. She had her own yacht by the age of six and began sailing solo when she was 10.

Her father, Dick Dekker, supports her attempt at the record, while her mother has expressed some concerns.

Miss Dekker had planned to spend about two years aboard her 8m (26ft) boat, Guppy, to break the record set in August by a 17-year-old UK boy.

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