17-year-old Briton just 5,000 miles from world record

Mike Perham, the Potters Bar teenager bidding to become the world’s youngest ever circumnavigator, has set sail from Panama on the last 5,000-mile Transatlantic leg back to Portsmouth, where he began his voyage on 15 November 2008.

Having cleared Shelter Bay marina in Panama, he set off weaving through dense shipping and heading in the direction of Jamaica. He soon found himself in a rising wind. ‘As I was putting the reef in,’ said Mike in his blog, ‘one of the lazy jacks snapped and managed to wrap itself around one of the cars attached to the mainsail. This meant I couldn’t lower the sail, so a mast climb needed to be done, and soon!

‘As with any mast climb, I phoned up my Dad to tell him I was going up and to not expect to hear from me in the next hour or so. Going up wasn’t so bad once I had got into the swing of things but getting around the first spreader was really tough and I got battered so many times. With too much canvas up due to not being able to drop the main, I was really being bucked around!

‘I started to feel really sick while I was up there and got lightheaded. I lost count of the number of times I was smacked against the rig as I made my way down – it’s much harder than going up and took me twice as long. If it wasn’t for my body padding, I’d currently be covered in bruises and probably have a couple of cracked ribs for good measure!

‘As I felt my leg touch the boom, I unclipped my climbing gear and laid down on the deck, completely knackered. I hadn’t had any sleep, nor eaten well and was feeling thoroughly seasick in the lumpy swell. Not a great start to my last leg. But oh well, sod it, I’m heading home now and despite the exhaustion I’m still wearing that grin on my face!’

Visit Mike’s website