Dove, by Robin Lee Graham
$10.19 at Amazon.com
Travel memoirs are a favorite of mine, and this one is out of this world. Apparently it's been a classic for years: I'd never heard of it until this week and now wonder where it's been all my life: Treasure Island meets Harry Potter.
In 1965, Robin became the first teenage boy to sail solo around the world. This book is the story of his impressive voyage, told in only 199 pages.
The trip took two years on a 24-foot sloop called Dove, with only a pair of kittens for companionship. During his trip he encounters storms so bad one breaks the mast off his boat. On one of his stops, he finds true love, and returns from his trip a married man. There are so many outstanding themes here: romance, adventure, and coming-of-age on the high seas.
We begin our journey when Robin and a few of his friends build a homemade boat that falls apart during a squall. The boys are rescued by the Coast Guard, but Robin's wanderlust has been ignited. His parents help him buy and build Dove so that he can take his dream trip in relative safety the second time, and on July 27, 1965, he takes off from California for Hawaii.
He visits the Solomon Islands, where his boat is in desperate need of repair, and the archipelago of Tonga, which he calls "the Friendly Islands." In Fiji he visits an island settled by a Scotsman in the 19th Century. Most of the inhabitants are his descendants, they are rather inbred and very odd.
Through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal back to his home port. It's a very exciting trip, especially impressive since the author was so young. And handsome, if I may say so. There's a series of photos in the book: in most of them he's shirtless on the deck or sunning himself on an exotic beach.
It's a lonely and dangerous trip for Robin, but a fun read for the rest of us. You'd have to be out of your mind not to find this story interesting. Check it out!