Sunday 26 January 2014

Laura Dekker at Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck - Part 4
Photo: Thomas Weber

On October 6, 2013, Laura gave a presentation about her circumnavigation at Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck “Kabelmetal” in Windeck-Schladern (Germany).

Please enjoy
the final part!

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Photo: (from left to right) Riek Dekker, Dick Dekker, Laura, Spot, Dick Dekker sr. after the event at the Kabelmetal hall


What can I say now but that of course I know Laura’s story but listening to her live and first-hand was something really, really special. A nice moment happened when Laura called Spot on stage to show that she wasn’t completely alone when on her sailing trips at ten years old and without a grown-up for company.
The whole time of Laura’s presence the auditorium hung on to her lips, spellbound following her account as she showed many pictures, most of which are not published on the internet or elsewhere. Another show-stopper was the inflatable globe, on which Laura’s route was displayed. That globe hung down over the speaker’s desk attached by a string. Laura only had to loosen the string to lower the globe by two meters, and show her entire route to the audience. The week before in Hamburg her boyfriend Daniel hat to temporarily make-do as somekind of globe-mount. Maybe the Bürgerkulturzentrum’s team manages to install a little motor to hoist and to lower the globe at the push of a button before Laura’s next presentation in Windeck.

Laura’s presentation was over much too soon and under loud applause from the audience she again took her seat next to moderator Jürgen Orthaus on the sofa. After a little chat during which Mr Orthaus asked some interesting questions to Laura, the Q & A period for the audience was on. You could tell from some questions that many of the people in the public must have been sailors because they asked for technical details like the safety line and so on. At the very end Mr Orthaus again thanked Laura and me and closed the event with a nice quote by Johnny Depp: “You can’t buy happiness with money, but you can buy a yacht with which to sail into happiness.”

That was it! It all went perfecty well, there were no incidents technical or of another kind. Now it was all about Laura signing books, giving autographs and chatting with her fans. Even I was engaged by attending journalists and interested bystanders heating praising words from all sides. Christoph and I also had a chat with Laura’s father. Later Christoph told me that he had later asked Dick Dekker whether West North’s and my work for Laura would be acknowledged and thanked for publicly to which Dick answered that it would be unusual (!) and that no one would do that. Maybe Mr Dekker should occasionally take in hand the books by other circumnavigators who have thanked their benefactors and sponsors in speeches and print.

And then it was time to wrap-up. According to event manager Peter Schadel the event turned out to be a “black zero” for Kabelmetal – no win but no loss either. All in all there were 62 paying guests attending plus the Dekker family and several journalists. The result from the book sale was also good. Laura seemed to be satisfied. At least that is what she said each time we asked.

Slowly the hall emptied and we packed our things up. Then we had to bid farewell. In the parking in front of the hall we talked for a few minutes before we said good bye to each other. Daniel told me that Laura had another appointment in Salzburg, Austria, the next day, but did not know what it was about. While Silke, Christoph and I drove back to my house and Dick Dekker drove back to Holland with the grandparents, Laura and Daniel went over to Daniel’s relatives who invited them for supper. We would have loved to have them back at my home to end the day. Maybe next time, but honestly I don’t believe that, but well, you never know, after all I was also completely wrong in my appreciations after HISWA 2012.


I’d like to thank everyone who contributed and made Laura’s appearance at “Kabelmetal” a reality!

I especially would like to thank Mr Peter Schadel for the organization and the spontaneous acceptance to host the event,

To Mr Jürgen Orthaus, who I want to thank for his great moderation skills during the event and his advocacy in preparation of the event,

To Miss Tamoschus of the book store ‘der buchladen’ in Waldbröl,, who without hesitation agreed to provide Laura’s books for selling at the event,

To Mr Andreas John of who posted the announcement for the event on the Segelreporter page.

Furthermore, I would like to thank Miss Friederike Krempin from the Delius Klasing publishing house, who kept informing me and Laura’s fans with the latest news during Laura’s stay in Germany.

And finally, I’d like to thank Laura very, very much, who, despite she wasn’t feeling her best, made that day a very special one for all us. We won’t ever forget!


Epilogue – a bitter aftertaste

Several days have passed since the event with Laura and things came back to normal. On Friday morning, October 11, I received a mail by Dick Dekker. He wrote that there would be an interview with Laura on the radio that very same evening on NDR, that “had been recorded a long time ago.” Then shortly before noon, when I had just come back home, the unbelievable happened! Unaware of things to come I opened another mail by Dick Dekker, that had the inoffensive subject ‘Windeck presentatie’ (Presentation in Windeck). In that mail Dick Dekker accused us, the operator of the hall and me, of having financially cheated Laura at the event at Bürgerkulturzentrum Windeck. According to his estimation there had been at least 150 people in the audience, hence Laura had to receive a four digit remuneration. Laura, as Dick wrote on, had been cheated many, many times in her life, and he, Dick Dekker, would never forgive me for that. According to Mr Dekker I had talked nonsense and allowed people to attend the event for free, including giving access to third-class (!) reporters. The moderator had been too expensive and had only said three sentences. Never before Laura had earned so little money like in Windeck and she feels very much cheated by us.

All the effort was in vain - acknowledgement or even thanks? Forget about it! I somewhat expected something like that from Dick Dekker. In fact we, West North and I, have experienced similar attitude and some in the past from Mr Dekker but accusing me of cheating Laura is on a totally different level. Of course, I immediately wrote to Laura and asked her about it. Up to now I received no answer, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that she shares her father’s opinion. Hence, after the book presentation in Hamburg we, Laura Daniel and I, had a brief chat about the film documentary about Laura’s journey, and as it turns out her opinion is very much different from what her father says in public. In all his statements he has kept up the impression that in fact he is expressing Laura’s opinion. No doubt you will make your own opinion about this.
For my part I told Dick Dekker in very clear words that I reject his accusations and find them totally inacceptable coming this late after all I/we did for Laura and him since the summer of 2010. I also put his statement in doubt about Laura never earning so little from a presentation. In subsequent mails Mr Dekker got caught up in contradictions about the conditions for Laura’s speech on the one hand and Laura’s statements towards me on the other hand.

Eventually, Laura’s blog of October 24, 2013 turned out to be a big disappointment. Not a single word about Windeck, no thanks to the people who got involved with it, not even a photo. But what did I expect? After 360 translations from Dutch to English of Laura’s blog and the other work we did, no mention or public thanks. For some reason the phrase “thanks for your help” doesn’t suit the Dekker family’s self-image. This, of course, would be a confession that they need others and that is a complete no-go.
To me it’s especially disappointing that Laura as it seems, was more interested by her remuneration for her speech than getting in touch with her fans. What did Laura say once? „In Holland and Europe they only think of money.“ I had always hoped that Laura is different from that.

Let’s hope that Laura will learn soon that she can’t continuously treat other people with disregard. These words however - to say it in the words of a famous German circumnavigator-, were maybe spoken in the wind.

Thomas Weber


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