Young yachtsman fixes unit as he avoids storm

Mike Perham, the British teenager attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world, has experienced yet more problems with his autopilot. The 16-year-old from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, reports on his website that he was woken this morning to an alarm and found ‘an error with the drive system’. Fortunately, he appears to have fixed the device.

Mike, who set out on his circumnavigation bid last November, has been plagued with problems concerning his autopilot. The young yachtsman had to stop in Portugal and then the Cape Verdes to fix the device, putting paid to his attempt to sail around the world non-stop. He then had to stop again in Cape Town at the start of February where he had the French NKE device replaced with a British B&G unit. He spent a month in South Africa, setting off for the Southern Ocean at the beginning of March.

Mike writes: ‘This morning I was awoken from one of my power naps by an autopilot alarm. It was telling me that there was an error with the drive system, which I thought was odd as there’s really not all that much that can go wrong there.

‘After putting on my oilies and harness in record time, I dashed outside and quickly took the helm before we gybed. My first thought was to check the aft compartment to see if anything was amiss and a big wave of relief swept over me when I saw that the rudder sensor had come off and so the pilot wasn’t detecting any movement on the rudder.

‘I lashed the tiller, grabbed a couple of spanners and had the rudder sensor re-attached in no time. Even though we’d checked that this was firmly fixed whilst in Cape Town the day-to-day vibrations of must have shaken it loose.

‘Since resetting the pilot she’s behaved perfectly. I’m really pleased with this new one and I’m really getting to know how it ticks now, which means I can set it up for the conditions just right.

‘As predicted, there’s been a complete change of conditions today – the wind’s picked up to a steady 25knots – so’s enjoying herself and moving along nicely as I’ve been able to do some reaching.

‘Our routing has paid off as we’ve managed to dodge the tropical storm just to the north east of us now. Forty-five knot easterlies are only 200 miles away from my current position which I really didn’t want to see!

‘The storm is now forecasted to move off east and dissipate late Tuesday, which is a good sign. I’m now going to really start plugging east and am currently aiming for a waypoint just to the north of the Crozet Islands.’