Sunday, March 20, 2005


When I was almost 11 years old, about the same age that I started to develop an interest in sailing, I remember reading a 1969 National Geographic article about a young man who had just become the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world. His name was Robin Graham, and he immediately became my hero. If someone just a few years older than I was could sail around the world, then why couldn’t I? This was the start of the dream.

I didn’t hear anything more about Robin until his book, Dove, taking its title from the name of his 24-foot sloop, was published a few years later, in 1972. I checked it out of the library and read it in just a few days. If the dream had been waning, it was quickly rekindled. I even had a name for my dream’s future sailboat: Impossible Dream. The Man from La Mancha must have been big at that time. (As coincidence would have it, I met Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Mt. Everest, about five years ago at a book signing, and part of his slideshow focused on his family sailing around the world in their large steel-hulled sailboat, Impossible Dream.)

I reread Dove a few years ago in anticipation of taking a series of American Sailing Association sailing courses. It was just as I remembered it, but I had the greater appreciation that comes from age for the dangers and doubts that Robin experienced. As I retraced his route on the giant world map in my office, the reality of taking five years to sail 33,000 miles was staggering. But the dream persisted. And it started to evolve into a plan.

No comments: