Just wrapping up reading John Guzzwell’s great book “Trekka: Round The World”. This is a book i’d heard of and seen many references made towards, but never actually had a chance to read myself. i wish i’d read it sooner!
The story sounds familiar; young dreamer scrapes a small boat together and sets off o’er the horizon. Not unlike “Dove”, eh? i was incredibly inspired by Robin Lee Graham’s story, as have many other “young dreamers” yearning for adventure. i’ve oft reccommended “Dove” to friends. Still, the book is certianly not without critics!
i got Kim to read it (i think other friends of hers are reccommended it to her as well), and she had some curious insights that got me to take another look at the book. Robin spends alot of pages carping about how tough it was, and of the many times at sea when he swore he’d never sail again, etc. Much of the book is taken up with escapades ashore; the sailing seemed portrayed as the horrible bits in between the good bits! Also, as another reader pointed out to me, while Robin was a hard worker, helpful, and possesed of some skill, his voyage was largely bankrolled by his parents (well, he was only 15 at departure!)
Overall, the impression that Kim had was that Robin really didn’t much enjoy the journey at all! Is it any coincidence that he moved to homestead in Colorado shortly after his return? Well, still a good book, worth the read, but losing lustre in my heart.
Guzzwell, on the other hand, paints an entirely different picture. A fine crafstman (a yacht joiner by trade), he built his boat Trekka behind a fish’n’chips shop in downtown Victoria, BC. i’ve seen the boat, a laurent Giles-designed 20’6″ yawl, on display inside the foyer of the Eatons department store in Victoria. It’s very difficult to convey just how small that is! When John crossed his outbound path off Hawaii in ’58, it was the smallest boat to do so, and he the first British citizen to complete a solo circumnavigation. One of my favourite passages from the book describes how, while far out at sea, he fondly recalls the winter months spent building Trekka in that unheated shed. i often wonder how i will look back on my times here when i too am a thousand miles out…
John delights in sailing and the sea. His happiest moments are at sea, far far offshore, drinking in the beauty and the solitude. In contrast to Robin, his landfalls are the times of greatest concern, and the bustling activities of shoreside life, while offering adventures of their own, seem to be nearly unwanted interuptions. He writes of friends, meetings, hikes, and landfalls as if they’ve fallen dryly from the pages of his logbooks, while heaping poetry, humour, and rare wit upon his open sea passages.
At 68, John designed and built himself a new wooden boat, Endangered Species (a ridiculously beautiful 30′ raceboat), with which he competed in the single-handed TransPac race. Now into his seventies, he is still a Puget Sound sailing fixture.
So, to all those i once urged to read “Dove”, now i urge to read this! i hope it inspires you…