Autopilot malfunctions again, but Mike battles on

Mike Perham, the British 16-year-old hoping to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone and non-stop, has had more problems with his autopilot, a vital piece of kit for his single-handed bid.

Mike set off from Falmouth aboard his Open 50 a week ago but had to put into Cascais near Lisbon, Portugal, last Friday after his autopilot malfunctioned. He departed Portugal yesterday believing the equipment to be fixed only to run into more difficulties – not to mention 50-knot winds and rising seas.

Peter Perham, Mike’s father, said: ‘He got underway at 10.30am yesterday morning and the zig-zag you can see on the tracker was us testing the autopilot. It worked fine, so Mike took off southwest. But later that night I got a call, “Dad, the AP’s malfunctioned again!” So he battened down the hatches and held fast while we worked through the night to try and fix the problem.

‘After a long analysis the decision was made to cut the wires of one of the autopilot’s two secondary control because they seemed to be interfering with each other and were having trouble configuring with the master. The only problem was that we didn’t know which one to cut.

So, Mike gritted his teeth and picked one at random, and ?well, we had to wait a few long hours before the unit malfunctioned again – but since then it’s been fine and Mike has now turned to the Southwest and is heading towards Madeira.’

Read YM‘s interview with Mike in our January edition.