Solitaire Spirit

By Les Powles
Published by Adlard Coles Nautical (Jan 2012)
ISBN 9781408154151

Les Powles had only 8 hours of sailing experience when he decided to sail solo around the world. Many novices would be content to simply dream of such an adventure, and maybe get as far as a solo Channel crossing, but not Les.

Les was in his 50s when he built himself a yacht with little prior knowledge of boatbuilding. Remarkably he made it across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, his navigation skills didn’t match his boatbuilding abilities; his first landfall was Brazil, he’d been aiming for Barbados – 100 miles north, and in a different hemisphere.

Three complete solo circumnavigations followed, all of them full of incident. The last one saw him given up for dead when he hadn’t been heard of for four months. His boat had been damaged in a storm; he’d lost all communications and had virtually run out of food. When he sailed up the Lymington River, aged 70 and in a skeletal state, his arrival caused a media frenzy. Lymington Yacht Haven subsequently gave him a free berth for life.

A terrific achiever who has beaten all the odds, Les Powles tells his story in a lively, entertaining, humorous and compelling way. It will resonate with sailors and non-sailors alike, and may inspire one to challenge the boundaries of the ocean; to take a tentative leap in the footsteps of one of sailing’s greats.

Les Powles is an ordinary yachtsman with an extraordinary tale to tell. Now 85 and living aboard his beloved self-built yacht Solitaire in Lymington Yacht Haven, he won Yachtsman of the Year in 1981 in recognition of his amazing achievements. This remarkable book takes you on Les’ epic journey around the world, recognizing his unparalleled achievements on the sea.

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