Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Losing sleep - Circumnavigate the Globe Alone

Photo by http://www.pplmedia.com

Dateline: 0800 UTC 04/08/09
Position: 23' 41"N 81' 58"W - 50 miles South of Key West, Florida
Speed: 9-knots
Age: Mike is 16 years old. He will turn 17 on 16th March 2009.

Mike Perham, the teenager from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire who has high hopes of sailing into the record books at the end of August to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the Globe alone, has covered more than 1,000 miles during his first week and is now off the Florida coast.

He and his Open 50 yacht Totallymoney.com left Panama last Tuesday, but says he has not been able to sleep for more than two hours a day, sometimes down to one and never longer than 15 minutes at a time. This is because he has to stay alert for fear of being run down by one of the many ships that are following the same route between Panama and the East Coast of the US. At times he has reported over 20 ships on his radar. On Sunday Mike said in his blog, 'The main thing is to be safe. The traffic has picked up a lot this evening - in the last hour I've had three ships pass within a few miles.'

Mike has also found the extreme heat particularly uncomfortable. He reports, 'It's so, so hot inside that the last thing I want to do at the moment is sit at the chart table. it’s over forty degrees Celsius day and night.' Often he has no choice but to be in the cabin as he has had to navigate around the Miskito and Rosalind Banks that stick out from the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. On rounding the western tip of Cuba over the weekend there was a traffic separation scheme to be negotiated.

Mike is having to use all his navigation skills, working the currents and sometimes fickle winds to pass through this area. His decision to go through the Panama Canal instead of around Cape Horn is proving far more of a challenge than was first perceived.

Another weather phenomenon he has had to contend with are the powerful lightening storms. On Monday he wrote, 'Today was a day of squalls and some of the craziest forked lightning I’ve seen so far – a bolt hit the water less than a mile away from me as I rounded the western tip of Cuba. Slightly worrying when I’m the tallest thing around!'

Another concern are pirates which are known to operate in this area. Mike is on an increased state of alert and his web tracker, showing the world Totallymoney.com course, has been suspended until he is clear of the region

If the wind gods remain kind, the 17 year old circumnavigator now expects to cross the Ushant/Lizard finish line off Falmouth UK in 21 days time and hopes to return to Gunwharf Quay, Portsmouth on August 25/26 - http://www.totallymoney.com/sailmike/