More autopilot gremlins

Sailing schoolboy Mike Perham, 16, is heading for the Portuguese island of Madeira where he may make another stop in a bid to get his autopilot fixed. The frustrated youngster had already stopped at Cascais near Lisbon to get the electronic helm sorted.

But over the last 24 hours since he left mainland Portugal the problem has re-surfaced. ‘The problems have continued and continued. I was really raging, as were the guys ashore who felt just as helpless as me to do anything else to fix it. I disconnected everything and reconnected it, and spent ages reconfiguring the rudder alignment – all for nothing.

‘I’ve changed over to my backup pilot, which is nowhere near as good, as it only steers by compass. This can be quite dangerous – if you experience a large wind-shift the boat will not respond quite erratically. It looks as if I now may well have to consider another stop in Madeira. There’s no way that you can sail safely and fast without a really good autopilot working for you.’

Perham from Potters Bar, Herts has set himself the daunting task of becoming the youngest, solo, non-stop circumnavigator. But despite the problems his determination has not waned: ‘I’ve set myself the challenge to complete this journey and I will. No matter what problems I face, I will see it through,’ he added.

See January’s YM for a major interview with Perham.

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