Light-airs start for 16-year-old contender

It’s pancakes and smiles all round for Mike Perham, still at sea 24 hours after leaving Gran Canaria in his bid to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo and singlehanded. Mike, 16, from Potters Bar, Herts, is about 40-50 miles off the coast off Africa heading south.

Mike has been plagued by technical problems since he left Portsmouth last month, stopping first in Portugal and then in Gran Canria to deal with the gremlins, particularly those concering his auto pilot. These appear to have been sorted out once and for all and the only problem Mike has had since leaving is a wind so light that his auto pilot could not steer. However, he reports that these benign conditions did not last long.

‘I’ve now been sailing for well over 24 hours and the pilot has been working perfectly, thank goodness. I’ve just been getting back into the swing of things, so have been taking it fairly easy – and not exactly by choice as the wind spent much of the night blowing at a lousy 0.01 knots! This lack of wind meant that I could only sleep for brief periods as the autopilot can’t steer when the wind is so slack. But at about 7am I finally found a decent blow and headed southeast, towards the African coast.

Now I’m following the coast at a distance of about 40-50 miles to make the most of the south-easterly winds brought by a small ridge of high pressure sitting on the African coast. I’m trying to avoid the annoying south westerlies further out to sea. Having said that, the latest weather reports are telling me that I’m going to get a bit of a battering thanks to some 30 knot winds from, yes, you’ve guessed it, the southwest – the exact direction I don’t want. I’m trying to remain as far over to the east as possible to avoid them.

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff, today’s been great and this morning I made the most of the gentle wind to cook up some apple pancakes. After a few miserable failures, I eventually got the hang of it and managed to cook up a few perfectly delicious numbers! Practice makes perfect and I’m sure I’ll become an expert in due course.

During my stay in Las Palmas, Fiona (my sister) and I stuck up around fifty or so photos inside the cabin making it feel a lot more homely and colourful. Whenever I catch sight of them lots of good memories come pouring in – it really puts a big smile on my face.

Now I’m back at sea, I’m looking forward to receiving all your comments, emails, jokes, suggestions and messages – they really make my day, so keep them coming!’