Painting of SUHAILI
by Melbourne Smith.
Published by Rudder magazine
And so he was. Off on one of the truly epic adventures in nautical history; one man and his small vessel would sail 30,000 miles non-stop around the world.
|American, Rob Hill, aboard SUHAILI, |
leaving Dar es Salaam.
Original photo dated 29 March 1966 by Keystone Press,
from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
Basically slow, with antiquated gear, a high cabin trunk, and a rickety self-steering system, the boat had not been the one Knox-Johnston had had in mind when a chance remark first started him thinking about attempting the passage. But as is often the case, money, or the lack of it, is the final determinant for the vessel many a sailor sails. And besides, there was more to SUHAILI than met the eye. Named after the Arabic word for southeast wind, she had been built in Bombay using handhewn Indian teak for stringers, frames, floors, and deck. Completed in 1965, even her planking was 1 ¼-inch teak and, with the exception of the high cabin coaming which would cause trouble southwest of Cape Town, she was a sturdy craft.
From India to Africa to England
32-ft ketch off the Kent coast heading for Gravesend, Eng.
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.
|SUHAILI, 21 April 1969.|
She was slowed down by gale force winds on the
final lap of the 29,5000 mile non-stop voyage.
Location here is c. 100-miles from Falmouth.
Original photo by Keystone from the archives of the S.P.H.S.©
|Englishman Robin Knox-Johnston |
aboard his 32-ft SUHAILI
following his single-handed,
non-stop circumnavigation 1969.
Photo from the book A World of My Own by R.K-J,
William Morrow and Company, 1969.
"Falmouth" Robin Knox-Johnston replied. The long journey into history was over.
Text by Jerry Cartwright
Rudder, September 1974
23 April 1969
A tankard after his solo 312-day non-stop circumnavigation.
Winner of the Sunday Times Golden Globe trophy.
Original photo from the S.P.H.S.©
The sailor of long-standing, with a big heart, was knighted in 1995.
The National Maritime Historical Society (USA) recognized Sir Robin Knox-Johnston for his accomplishments and contributions promoting the heritage of seafaring by bestowing upon him the NMHS Distinguished Service Award.
Since the Golden Globe Race in 1969 he has competed in countless sailing races both solo and crewed, written a number of very popular books, and worked tirelessly to promote world-class marine events.
He was interviewed by Richard du Moulin for the NMHS's journal Sea History winter issue 2008/09 when he asked Knox-Johnston several questions; two we've chosen to include here:
Du Moulin--How did you first get involved in sailboat racing, and solo sailing in particular?
Knox-Johnston: I learned to sail in the merchant navy. In the 1950s, lifeboats still carried masts and sails--so we had to learn how to use them. But I was lucky, I was sent to a Cadet ship where the crew were replaced by apprentices, and we were given a sailing whaler and two dinghies for recreational purposes.
I had built my boat SUHAILI in Bombay (Mumbai) and sailed her home via Arabia and the Cape of Good Hope. Whilst I was doing that, Frances Chichester sailed around the world with one stop, and I felt that left just one thing left in sailing--to go 'round alone non-stop.
Du Moulin--How did you finance the 1969 Golden Globe Race?
Knox-Johnston--I tried to get sponsorship but failed completely, so I financed the voyage on a bank overdraft and by writing. The advances for a book helped.
Du Moulin--In hindsight, what is your most memorable observation or recollection of that race?
Knox-Johnston--My most memorable recollection is dealing with those who told me the voyage was not possible and I could not do it. I thought differently.
A World of My Own