Perham to join greatest open boat voyage

Sailing schoolboy Mike Perham, 17, currently sailing halfway across the Pacific in his bid to become the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator, has been offered a berth aboard a replica of HMS Bounty’s launch.

The opportunity came his way after he called into Hobart, Tasmania, when his Open 50 had to be fitted with new rudder bearings. Respected ocean sailor Don McIntyre was so impressed with Perham’s seamanship he offered a place on the replica launch.

On 28 April 2010 to mark the 221th anniversary of the Mutiny on the Bounty, when Fletcher Christian cast William Bligh and 18 of his men adrift in a 23ft open boat, the replica will make the same voyage. Bligh’s voyage was one of the greatest open boat voyages in maritime history. During the following seven weeks, Bligh and his men sailed over 3,700 nautical miles, in an overloaded boat, with little food or water and no charts, from Tonga to Kupang in Timor.

On that same day, in the same place, at the same time, Australian adventurers Don McIntyre and Chris Bray, Mike Perham and one other crew, will relive Bligh’s nightmare, by attempting to sail the same voyage under similar conditions, no charts, no toilet paper, not enough food or water, in an 18th century traditional open timber whale boat. McIntyre and Bray are not new to adventuring, but this challenge is like nothing they have experienced before.

The launch and Perham may appear at the Southampton Boat Show, although no final decision has been made. Meanwhile although Perham is heading north-east, rounding Cape Horn has still not been ruled out. His father Peter told Yachting Monthly:’The wind is expected to go round into the north-west soon so he will be heading south again. I had a frightening moment recently when I saw he was doing 28 knots. But he is certainly enjoying himself. We are expecting him home around the last week of July.’

French ocean racer Servane Escoffier who chartered the boat to Perham, has extended the charter period which was to have ended in March, with Perham’s expected return. But after so many gear failures the youngster has made unexpected and long stops.