'Dove' sailor Robin Lee Graham

When he set sail in July 1965 from Los Angeles, 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham said he just wanted "to be on my own and explore." Five years and 30,000 miles later, Graham had become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

He returned with a wife, a daughter, and enough experiences to write a bestselling book, named after his 24-foot sloop, Dove.

Graham overcame severe weather (he was tossed overboard twice), a near-collision, and mechanical problems. But his biggest obstacle was loneliness. "It was easy to get homesick," he said in a recent phone interview. "But knowing that my wife, Patti, was waiting in the next port helped a lot." Robin met Patti in Fiji. After that, she met him at almost every port, traveling separately. They wed in South Africa.

Graham and his new family moved to Montana, where they still live. Graham is a building contractor. Their daughter and son are grown. "Every year, we like to get out of Montana," he says. "We do short-term missionary work." The couple has volunteered in Israel, West Africa, Honduras, and other places.

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