by Robin L. Graham, Derek Gill

In 1965, 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham began a solo around-the-world voyage from San Pedro, California, in a 24-foot sloop. Five years and 33,000 miles later, he returned to home port with a wife and daughter and enough extraordinary experiences to fill this bestselling book, Dove.


In 1965, 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham began a solo around-the-world voyage from San Pedro, California, in a 24-foot sloop. Five years and 33,000 miles later, he returned to home port with a wife and daughter and enough extraordinary experiences to fill this bestselling book, Dove.

Editorial Reviews

Sloan Wilson
Perfectly marvelous. Anyone who enjoys the sea or who loves adventure will love it.
Milwaukee Journal
Filled with a youthful philosophy about life and love and high adventure. .
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Even in an era of superlatives, Dove is an incredible story. .

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Joining the Circle

DOVE nosed into her slip at the Long Beach marina, her sails furled like a bird resting its wings after a storm. I wasn't thinking about the voyage at all. My mind was on Patti. I was yearning to hold her again. She was standing there among the reporters and television cameras, and laughing-her long wheatcolored hair blowing across her face in that familiar way, her body swollen with my child.

As Dove was being tied up, so many newsmen came charging down the floating slip that it threatened to sink and to throw them into the April-chill water. I sat on the cabin roof waiting for the customs officer, and a dozen microphones were thrust into my face. Then the questions came at me like stones.

"What does it feel like to be the youngest sailor to have circled the world single-handed?"

"I haven't given it much thought," I said--and that was true.

"Would you do it again?"

"God no! I've done it once. Why do it again?"

"How did Patti become pregnant?" This from a woman reporter fluttering artificial eyelashes.

I urged her to read a book on birds and bees. She was closer than she knew to a love story that I wasn't yet ready to tell.

"What did you think about when you were alone and a thousand miles from land?"

"Perhaps the things you think about when you're alone," I parried, "but mostly about the next port."

"How far have you traveled since leaving California five years ago?"

"About thirty thousand and six hundred miles," I said.

"What are you going to do now?"

"Take a hot bath."

"Did you do it for a stunt?"

"A stunt! Hell no!"

Patti was making signs to me, tryingto tell me to keep my cool. She knew how short my fuse was when people asked damn-fool questions. But how could I tell these people, all thinking of their copy deadlines, why I had made this voyage?

Couldn't they leave me alone? Couldn't they guess that all I wanted was to be with Patti, to get away from this damned boat, to be among trees again, and in front of a blazing hearth and in a bed that didn't lurch with every wave and wind?

Actually I had seen Patti half an hour earlier. She and her father and my parents had come out in a launch at dawn to meet Dove at the breakwater. Patti had leaned perilously over the launch's rail to give me a breakfast of fresh melon, hot rolls and a bottle of champagne. I had drunk the whole bottle before reaching the marina and my mood was reasonably mellow. The reporters were safe. I even grinned at them. The television cameras zoomed in.

Many have sailed long and dangerous voyages for the sake of personal glory. Others have sailed for personal adventure. I fall into neither group. I have tried to answer honestly when people have asked me what made me do it--what compelled me at the age of sixteen to take a twenty-four-foot sailboat out of San Pedro harbor (it flanks Long Beach) and to tell my family and friends, "I'm going around the world."

Shakespeare, who seems to have had an answer to most questions, had Hamlet say, "There's a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." That was an answer that fitted pretty closely.

I'd never heard of Shakespeare and understood nothing about destiny when I went to school at the age of five in California. The classroom was close to a forest of yacht masts, and while other kids crayoned pictures of automobiles, airplanes, flowers or their Uncle Harry wearing big glasses, I drew only pictures of boats--boats with scores of portholes, top-heavy boats, small boats, wind-filled mainsails, mizzens, genoas, jibs and spinnakers. Then, when I was ten and a lot more resentful of homework, I pressured my father into giving me an eight-foot dinghy--beat up but beautiful. We were living then at Morro Bay, one of the more attractive of California's coastal towns. On launching day my father said he would teach me how to sail. He was full of wisdom because the previous night he had been reading a manual titled How to Handle a Small Craft. We got out two hundred yards from the shore and he lectured me on the danger of jibing (page 16 in the manual). Hardly had he lowered his finger than the boat jibed and both of us were thrown into the water.

But how I loved that little boat. Every day when school was over my brother Michael would dash off to the back yard and tinker with his beach buggy, but I would run all the way to the little wooden jetty beyond the reeds near our house. Sailing already meant much more to me than "mucking about in boats," as the neighbors used to call it. It was the chance to escape from blackboards and the smell of disinfectant in the school toilet, from addition and subtraction sums that were never the same as the teacher's answers, from spelling words like "seize" and "fulfill" and from little league baseball. It was the chance to be alone and to be as free for a while as the sea gulls that swung around Morro Rock.

One night when I should have been asleep I could hear my parents talking about me, their voices drifting down the passage from the living room. "I'm worried that he's such a loner," said my mother. "He needs more company. More friends. Perhaps we should ask Stephen or David to join us for the vacation."

A loner? Was I really different? I had friends. But I liked being alone, and a boat gave me the chance of getting away from people.

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