Video: Boy sails into Atlantic record book

updated 1/3/2007 12:24:58 PM ET 2007-01-03T17:24:58

A British teenage boy sailed into the record books Wednesday as the youngest person to have made a solo voyage across the Atlantic.

Michael Perham, 14, who skipped school to make the trip, sailed into Nelson’s Dockyard in the Caribbean island of Antigua, after an arduous six-week crossing 3,500 miles of open water from Gibraltar, followed by his father.

Perham, who waved his fist triumphantly to a small crowd of Antiguan officials and supporters as he docked his sailboat outside St. John’s, set sail Nov. 18 from Gibraltar and made brief stops for repairs in the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.

Perham, of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, was seeking to break the record held by Sebastian Clover, also of Britain, who was 15 when he sailed solo from the Canary Islands to Antigua in 2003.

The previous holder of the record was Seb Clover who was 15 when he completed the shorter solo voyage to Antigua from Tenerife in January 2003 after three weeks at sea, also tailed by his father.

Michael, who started sailing when he was 7, already had several thousand miles under his belt before he began the latest — and to date, longest — voyage.

In a modified 28-foot yacht named Cheeky Monkey, Michael had hoped to complete the trip following the trade winds in about four weeks, but had to divert to Lanzarote and the Cape Verde islands when his navigation equipment failed.

The trip for both father and son has been hampered by bad weather and equipment damage, including the rudder on father Peter’s boat and the sea anchor on the Cheeky Monkey.

In his diary blog, Michael, who is described on his Web site as cheerful and determined with a love of outdoor sports and chocolate, describes the loneliness and ups and downs of the epic voyage.

“Experienced my first experience of squalls, they really do knock your teeth out,” he wrote on Nov. 25.

He described how on Dec. 15 he had to tie a rope around his waist and jump overboard to cut free his steering gear.

He expressed joy at seeing dolphins skimming alongside his boat, sunbathing, blue skies and flying fish landing in his lap.

“It is an amazingly good feeling when you are on the open sea and no land in sight,” he wrote.

He even said he managed to do a bit of homework.

Peter, 47, has been sailing close by and in radio contact but under the rules of solo yachting has not been allowed to make physical contact.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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