I thought it appropriate to start the book review section with the Story of Robin Lee Graham and Dove. It is after all this book that changed my life and got me into sailing as a way of life. For those who are not familiar with the book it is the true story of a 16 year old boy who in the mid sixties sets off on a solo sailing adventure of the world. He aims to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. A series of three National Geographic articles preceded the book.

Robin sets off to sail around the world but also finds love, adventure, and himself. He learns to depend on his own wits and abilities. Aboard his tiny 25 foot sailboat he has to  navigate pre GPS, sail without the aid of satellite communications and tracking. He has to learn to trust his instincts more than most people ever will. During his travels he finds true romance and meets the love of his life.

I know it is perhaps not the best written book there has been but sometimes the story will over shadow the style. The point being, Robin showed many young boys and girls that adventure was still out there and you could have a dream of someday sailing off to tropical islands to find pretty girls, adventures at sea, and explore foreign lands.

I have talked to many people who have read and embraced Robin’s story. A close friend of mine said he first read of Robin’s adventure while in Viet Nam. The dream of one day sailing off into blue waters kept him going during some dark times. Dreams after all are what give us hope and keep us going when things get tough. The dream planted by this story has kept many going towards the goal of sailing adventures.

Sometimes it is not how well written something is but rather what the story has to offer us. I know there are those out there that cannot get past the mediocre writing style but I think they may be missing the point. The thing about Robin’s story is that it was real; it showed that an adolescent boy could manage his own life, sometimes in extreme conditions. It proved to us that in a world that seems to be getting smaller by the day that true adventure was still out there for us find.

I recently re-read the book for the first time in many years. Lots of memories came back as I read it. Memories of when I was Robin’s age and just trying to find myself as a person. I grew up in a confusing time of the sixties and this book gave me a direction a hope, a plan. So maybe things did not work like I thought but all these years later I still have the dream and so do many others.

Recently my son read this book while at sea on the way to Bermuda. I am not sure it had the same impact on him as it did me and others but I could tell it did leave an impression. The fact he could read it in the midst of his own adventure I am sure changed the context and feel of the book.

I often will ask people what got them into the sailing life and what helped motivate them to want a life of sailing adventure. A surprising amount will tell me it was this book that changed them. It was this book that planted the seed of a dream for blue waters and adventure. The world has changed a lot since Robin set off to unseen horizons but in a way many things remain the same. I think it is very human to want to set off and explore, to seek new challenges in our lives. This is what leads to great discoveries. Robin’s adventure embraces this sense of exploration, this desire to see new lands and take risks that others will not. That after all is what makes humans so different from other creatures.

So from my point of view I think this is a must read for anyone who has ever thought about setting sail for sun sets in faraway places. Perhaps not the best written the story itself is worth the read.

Capt. Wayne


About the author: Capt. Wayne


Boat builder, Sailor, Surveyor, and freelance writer.