A World of My Own
It says a lot for the sailing fraternity that this book 40 years old has never been out of print.
A combination of well written narrative and extracts from his log makes it a very readable story of adventure on the high seas combined with the thrill of actually racing a number of other boats around the world non-stop in a vessel not exactly designed for such a task. Suhaili had been built in India to Knox-Johnston’s specifications as a vehicle to get him back to the UK and possibly be sold. Fortunately she was very strongly built and with the aid of various additions including the amazing Heath- Robinson like self steering vanes he called The Admiral was able not only to sail around the world without touching land(discounting the grounding in new Zealand) but to win the race against several rivals with bigger, better designed boats and proper sponsorship. The day to day narrative is fascinating but shows a completely different attitude to life than we have today.
Regularly stopping for cigarette breaks and dosing himself liberally with various alcoholic potions ( for medicinal purposes of course) he manages to keep his morale high and optimistic even when faced with terrifying conditions, completely alone and often not even knowing his position. Robin tells the story in a completely low key when such incidents as having to shoot a shark off the Cape Verde Islands so that he could go overboard and fix a leak is a matter of fact as you can get and produced the desired results. No more sharks.
The boat had an interesting Tardis like capacity and how enough food drink medicines spare parts and everything else was stuffed into Suhaili is extraordinary. There is a photo showing half the stores need and they looked bigger than the boat. Nowadays with the advance of dehydrated food he could probably have added a couple of passengers.
The books is well illustrated with photos, both colour and Black and white plus line illustrations of the rig including the aforementioned Admiral. I recommend you read it and discover more of the adventures of Robin Knox-Johnston and Suhaili 40 years ago.
First published 1969 by Cassell and Company RW