Just before Christmas Michael Perham became the youngest person to sail solo across the Atlantic
Fourteen year old Mike Perham sailed into the record books just after Christmas when, after nearly seven weeks at sea, he arrived in Antigua having sailed solo across the Atlantic in a Tide 28 trailer sailer, Cheeky Monkey. A solo Atlantic passage by any route is a major challenge. For a 14-year old to achieve this in such a relatively small boat fully deserves the recognition it got – or did it?
One report rather unfairly commented that for the whole crossing his father, following a mile or two astern in an identical boat, was ‘babysitting’ the lad whilst others over-egged the achievement with talk of his swimming in shark infested waters, braving mountainous seas and hurricane force winds. This achievement does not need exaggerating. The fact he managed it is enough.
But since the news of his arrival broke there has been an uncanny silence. What happened during the crossing? What broke? How did he cope with the solitude? What did he eat? Did he get enough sleep? Nothing. Nada.
Web editor Sue Pelling tried long and hard to interview him over the phone. Nothing. Antigua-based YW contributor Jole Byerly tried to get the story. Silence. The door was closed. Even his daily diary entries on his web site vanished.
But last Sunday, 7 January, all was revealed in an exclusive story in – the News of the World. Talk about swimming with sharks.