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Sir Robin & Self-Sufficiency

This past weekend Sheryl & I were at the Southampton Boat Show and had the great privilege to meet Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Robin has been a big hero of mine for decades! He is best known for being the first person to sail alone and non-stop around the world in the Golden Globe race in 1968-69. More recently he did it again at the age of 68 and in between he has done lots more for the sailing world (See Robins Homepage).

It has been some years now since we’d read his excellent book “A World of My Own” and since we knew we were going to meet Sir Robin at the Southerly Dinner we decided to reread it. What a treat! If you haven’t read the book I highly recommend you get a copy. The story is exciting and a great read, but I also found it a great insight into the attitude that will succeed in offshore voyaging “I can do this! There is a way!”

Robin took a wooden 32-footer around the world in 312 days and during that time practically everything broke! “His water tanks were polluted, a storm put his radio out of action, his self-steering gear disintegrated, his main boom collapsed, his tiller sheered but he refused to give up” (from the back cover of “A World of My Own”). In fact this severely understates the number of problems he had!!

From fashioning a new gooseneck, rebuilding the generator, radio and practically everything else on board, to diving over and adding strips to seal major hull leaks he shows the value of being resourceful. But more than that he shows the value of a positive attitude and refusal to give up.

The next time I am faced with a problem I can’t see how to solve I will remember that attitude and ask myself how Sir Robin would have looked at it. It is alright to curse at it but then get down to work. And afterwards it’s OK to “go below and check the level of the whisky bottle”...

p.s. This picture is down below on the HMS Warrior in Portsmouth. What a fantastic venue to hear sea stories told by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston!
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