What’d you do over summer break?

LONDON (Reuters) – A 17-year-old Briton became the youngest person to sail round the globe single-handed on Thursday after nine months at sea.

Mike Perham suffered knockdowns and damage to his yacht during the 24,000-mile (38,700-km) trip and the teenager from Hertfordshire, southern England, said he was now looking forward to a “good meal and a very good night’s sleep.”

Fewer than 250 people have sailed solo around the globe, but his record is already in jeopardy if a 13-year-old Dutch girl persuades a court to allow her to set sail.

Perham, who started sailing aged seven, was the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, aged 14, in 2007.

Perham crossed the start line for his round-the-world trip between Ushant, northern France, and Lizard Point, southern England, on November 18 last year as a 16-year-old and celebrated his 17th birthday in the southern Indian Ocean.

Early on, he suffered technical problems with his Open 50 yacht, TotallyMoney.com, and was forced to seek repairs at various ports, including in Portugal, Gran Canaria, Cape Town, Tasmania and Auckland.

Because of that, Guinness World Records categorized his record as “assisted.”

“The low points are when things go wrong unexpectedly and it is down to you to fix it, because that’s not getting you nearer to home, that’s only getting you further away,” he told BBC television by phone.

He had to deal with his genoa sail ripping from top to bottom and swimming under the boat’s hull to cut free a jammed spinnaker sheet.

Poor weather and the onset of winter forced him to go through the Panama Canal rather than sail around Cape Horn, on the southerly tip of South America.

Perham said he never doubted he would complete the trip, but he did have moments when he questioned what he was doing.

“But you push on and you handle it,” he told the BBC.

“I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for in terms of being on my own, but it’s definitely the hardest bit of the trip being on your own because there is nobody to help you and you do miss the physical contact.”

The previous youngest to complete a similar voyage was American Zac Sunderland last month, but his effort is not recognized by Guinness World Records.

There goes the neighborhood…

rocket

As the 40th-anniversary celebrations of the moon landing end, a human voyage to Mars remains a holy grail for NASA.

“We’re still looking at human exploration of Mars as one of the goals of the future at the top level,” said NASA researcher Bret Drake with Lunar and Mars Integration at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Having a human actually set foot on another planet would be one of the greatest adventures possible, one of the greatest monuments to history.”

A crewed mission to the red planet is a daunting challenge that lies at the edge of current technological capabilities and possibly beyond. Still, NASA keeps a strategy to go there and constantly keeps up to date with new ideas.

“Mars is one of those targets of fascination that has been around a long time,” Drake said.

Full article.

Geography Randomness, or, Random Geographyness

Yes, I am a geography geek.

I suppose most sailors are; it’s not too wise to jump into a 25′ craft, hoist the main and charge off to the horizon with no damn idea what lies beyond.

Back in the middle ages, mapmakers wrote “here be dragons” on the edges of the maps, in the areas that had not (yet) been explored.  They weren’t far off.  Find yourself in a fifty-knot blow on thirty foot seas, and you’ll wish you were back on land fighting dragons.

One factoid I find fascinating every time I chart the Atlantic is the relation of US cities to our neighbors across the pond.  As kids, we generally believed that England is a straight shot East, somewhere vaugely equal to Plymouth Rock, or perhaps even New York.

But take a look at a latitude map below and you’ll see that Great Britain is way north in relation to US cities.  London is more in line with Vancouver than any US city, and New York is on par with Madrid, Rome and Instanbul, while Atlanta’s latitude is very close to Baghdad’s.

So why isn’t England a snow-capped hell, like most of Canada (Heh.)?

The Gulf Stream.

chart

NYC Debrief – Part 1

I’m putting together a full debrief of the Fox and Friends interview and the shenanigans that surrounded it.  However, I’m buried in work, and the full story will have to wait for now.

Until then, a few photos:

Toy soldier riding a skunk.  Skunk's wearing a tiara.  WTF.

Toy soldier riding a skunk. Skunk's wearing a tiara. WTF.

Christy and some random dude outside our old apartment.

Christy and some random dude outside our old apartment.

My former office at Columbus Circle

My former office at Columbus Circle