Robin Lee Graham and PACE Magazine



Catharine writes :

At a time of rapid changes and great pressures on young people, I was privileged to work as Research Editor for Pace Magazine in Los Angeles and New York. The magazine was founded by my cousin Robert Fleming, prize-winning photographer, and experienced journalist Stewart Lancaster, with the help of Montrealer John Hallward, with a national youth committee from every corner of the continent. Its’ aim was to inspire a young audience to discover their own goals and purpose in life.

I scanned half a dozen newspapers nearly every day looking for stories. There was a short article in the LA Times about a 16 year old who was about to set sail around the world. By the time I got down to the port he had left, but someone kindly gave me the address of his aunt. She put me in touch with his parents, who were avocado farmers.

My most memorable scoop was a story about the first teenage sailor to circle the globe in a sailboat, Robin Lee Graham. Robin’s father was an enthusiastic sailor himself and had taken the whole family sailing on many occasions. He figured out a way for me to correspond with Robin who would drop in various islands, such as Fiji, on his way to pick up his homework. You can imagine the excitement at Pace Magazine when the first letter from out at sea arrived.

One of the senior editors at Pace, Frank McGee, helped me polish the story for the next edition of the magazine. Robin Lee Graham maintained “you have to tackle any challenge in front of you. For me sailing is it – where it’s you up against nature. You have to show the world and prove to yourself that you can do it.” And so he did, making his solo voyage from Watchorn Basin, Los Angeles, to Hawaii in 22 days with his two cats, Suzette and Joliette – a fishing rod and a guitar for company. Out of the blue I received a letter from Western Samoa, recounting his adventures on the Pacific:


Dear Catharine,

My toughest moment was when I broke my mast. I was sailing along pretty good when I hit a squall and within less than a heart-beat the mast was overboard. After that I had the mast tied to the deck. I put my boom up as a jerry-rig mast and I put the main sail up like it should go on the boom. I had to sail with the wind on my quarter and the only place I could go was Western Samoa. If I didn’t make it I might be sailing in the Pacific for a long, long time.”

Robin Lee Graham

The rest of Lee’s story, his romance with Patti, who was traveling around the world on a motorcycle, and whom he met during a stop in Australia, is told in two books “Dove” and “Home is the sailor”, co-authored with the Senior Editor of Pace Magazine, Derek Gill. Gregory Peck later made a movie from the story.



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