How young is too young to sail alone around the world?

I first sailed to Bermuda when I was 14 years old.ย  It was a pretty significant milestone in my life.ย  From what I can remember of it today, more three decades later, it was also a significant accomplishment, psychologically, emotionally and physically. Of course, I was on a 128′ tall ship with 20 other adolescents and there was also this other little factor that the ship was under the command of a master mariner.

This morning, Mike Perham, a 17 year old Briton, became the youngest person to solo circumnavigate the globe.ย  Mike’s prior experience included crossing the Atlantic at the age of 14. Here’s a BBC video/audio report upon Mike’s arrival this morning.

In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times,ย  Pete Thomas wrote an interesting article titled More Teens Choose High-Seas Journeys.ย  A more accurate title for the article might have been Younger Teens Choose High-Seas Journeys as the race today is less about who will be the fastest around the globe but rather who will be the youngest.

While I find it difficult to make a definitive statement with an absolute age on this controversy, it does seem to be getting a little ridiculous. I guess there will always be 2 schools of thought about these types of things with freedom of choice on one side and youth competency and parental responsibility on the other. Mankind has always been designed to push the limits, whatever they might be.

There’s an interesting conversation over at the Free Range Kids blog that you should check out if you are at all interested in this controversy. And from a slightly different perspective, check out the comments on BoingBoing.

Here are the websites of the youth sailors so you can read their own words about their adventures.