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Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea Paperback – Bargain Price, October 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA Sailing Napoleon Solo in a single-handed Mini-Transat race from Spain to Antigua, Callahan was west of the Canary Islands when he realized that his sailboat was sinking. He managed to grab the life raft, a knife, his emergency duffel bag, a piece of mains'l, and a sleeping bag. These items became his home and sole possessions for 76 days. Loneliness, hunger, thirst, pain, and weakness dogged Callahan, yet his ingenuity and knowledge of the sea enabled him to survive. The illustrations and diagrams of life aboard Rubber Ducky III enable readers to visualize the hardshipsthe cramped living space of the raft, the hundreds of salt water sores that covered his body, the foreboding appearance of an approaching storm, or the primitive method used to collect fresh water. Harassed by sharks and dorados; at the mercy of storms; sore, cold, and miserable, Callahan shows fortitude and perseverance. An excellent book for all YAs, whether sailors or landlubbers. Pam Spencer, Mount Vernon High School Library, Fairfax, Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Callahan, a marine architect, lost his boat in a storm off the Canary Islands while engaged in a singlehanded race across the Atlantic in 1981. Luckily, he carried far more than the basic emergency equipment required, e.g., a six-person raft. Before sinking he was able to recover his emergency equipment bag and his life raft. Callahan admits to having read the survival accounts of Maurice and Maralyn Bailey ( Staying Alive , 1974) and Dougal Robertson ( Survive the Savage Sea , 1973) and even had the latter's manual Sea Survival (1975) with him in the raft. What makes his story different was his lack of a companion. Through his own ingenuity he learned how to spear fish, fix his solar still, and even repair his holed raft. This is a real human drama that delves deeply into a man's survival instincts. It should be read by anyone venturing offshore in a small boat. John Kenny, San Francisco P.L.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618257322
  • ASIN: B003BVK302
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (443 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,404,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Callahan is probably best known for completing an Atlantic crossing after losing his boat mid-ocean in 1982. For 76 days, he learned to live like an aquatic cave in a life raft and drifted 1,800 nautical miles, a voyage he chronicled in Adrift (Houghton Mifflin), which became a NY Times best seller and has been translated into 15 languages. He also authored Capsized (HarperCollins) for survivor Jim Nalepka who spent four months with four other men on an overturned, half-flooded boat, most of their time crammed into the space of a double bed with eighteen inches of headroom. Callahan has contributed writings, illustrations, and photos to more than a dozen other books, many about seamanship and/or survival, such as Michael Greenwald's Survivor, as well as authoring hundreds of articles for the marine press worldwide. He's served as contributing editor to Sailor and Sail magazines, and senior editor at Cruising World for which he continues to do special projects such as testing new boats and lifesaving equipment.

From the time he was a kid, Callahan was addicted to the water and boats, and by age 10 was whacking together barges using old roofing boards. He taught himself the basics of boat design and celestial navigation, and helped build a 40 footer prior to graduating high school. As an adult, he has spent more than 40 years in the marine and communications trades, first building boats, then designing and teaching design, as well as living aboard, racing, doing boat deliveries, writing, illustrating, and doing photography. His educational background in philosophy and the arts as well as boat design, and sailing more than 80,000 offshore miles, most shorthanded and on unusual craft, have inspired his primary literary and artistic goal to broaden the audience for maritime subjects by taking non-sailors into the unique and magnificent offshore world where universal human issues often are magnified. He is intrigued by not only the technical elements of boats and the sea but also by the human questions that arise when sailing in the world's greatest wilderness.

Callahan continues to write about and speak publicly on survival, voyaging, and seamanship, and has been frequently interviewed for television and other media programs. He resides with his wife in Maine where they enjoy living close to nature.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Ken Kardash on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the fascinating story of a resourceful sailor who drifted in a life raft across the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike other adventurers who have chronicled solo transoceanic journeys (Joshua Slocum, Thor Heyerdahl, Alain Bombard, William Willis, etc.), his journey was unplanned. After the sudden sinking of his sailboat, he had to hurriedly abandon ship into an inflatable life raft with whatever supplies he could snatch. His seventy-six day ordeal takes place in this constantly leaking raft too small to accommodate his full body length. He knows from the outset that his food and water supplies are inadequate. His story of survival thus becomes not one of simple endurance, but a confrontation of many external and internal challenges ranging from securing food and water to dealing with isolation and despair. He meets these with remarkable ingenuity and determination. Forced into introspection that borders on the mystical at times, his reflections on how his mindset and personal characteristics responded to these challenges make for as fascinating an inner journey as the one his body endured. This is what separates this from most adventure stories, and why I think it will endure as a classic of the genre.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Martin A Hogan HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Steven Callahan is a blessed man. This true story is one of the most harrowing accounts of survival in a truly hopeless situation. He capsizes in minutes in the middle of the night with a raft and not much more. Nobody knows he's missing. No one is looking for him.
Told with desperation and some much needed occasional humor, Callahan paints a story so real and frought with fear that you can read it in one sitting. It is difficult to imagine what one would do in a similiar situation and the very thought of it is spine tingling.
This is a tale for every person who ever took to the water and every adventurer who feels safe in thier environment. You will never take the ocean for granted again after reading this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By mbmusgrove@yahoo.com on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book at the recommendation of my father. I had broken my leg and was immobile and alone on the 2nd floor of a house in Charleston, SC. I couldn't put his book down until I had finished it. Callahan's account of his daunting, aimless attempt to reach land alive will make anyone appreciate what they have and that they don't know the meaning of desperation, uncertainty, hopelessness and perseverance. I felt lucky to only have a broken leg once I finished this book. I highly recommend it.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By AceAg82 on August 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent ocean survival story that kept me throughly entertained from start to finish. Honestly I couldn't put the book down. This book will change the way you look at your life. After you finish reading it, you won't take the simple things in life for granted anymore. If you enjoy true life adventure and survival books, then I suggest you read this one, it's excellent.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Davlo on July 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book for the first time about ten years ago and I have never forgotten it. It was one of the most compelling, absorbing books I've ever read, if not the most. How he survives is truly amazing, and this story belongs in the collection of anyone with an interest in true stories of survival. It made me wonder how I would handle such a situation, and would I be tough enough to make it. I'm sure anyone who reads this will ask themselves the very same questions.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ben Ettelman on November 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Steven Callahan's story of sheer determination is one of the best survival tales since Swiss Family Robinson. I believe the book's most powerful asset lays within the nararation though, having the story told by the actual survivor gives the reader an extremely good feeling of what it was like on that small raft. The nararation also opens the mind of the author so the reader can experience first hand Callahan's struggle with sanity. The story starts in Callahan's boat as he attempts to sail around the whole world, alone. When disaster strikes Callahan's ever present knowledge of the sea is shown. Having grown up on a sailboat, one of my favorite features of the book is its vast variety of factual information pertaining to nautical exploration. Although the pictures were shown in rather awkward places at times (pages ahead of where they were to be talked about), they were extremely helpful and interesting as well. Overall I would say that Adrift by Steven Callahan is a great read. If you like stories of adventure, this is a dose and a half of pure survivalism, at its best. I feel that Callahan's story is so surreal that I could say that I might have serious reservations about actually going out on the open sea again, but not about picking up another book of this caliber.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By zorba on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a story, Adrift was compelling and inspiring. As a book, it was much less so. The problem was that the book was almost a day-to-day account of one man's attempt to survive in a life raft in the middle of the ocean. One crisis after another...the crises were endless. How much of that can you read? And besides, there is little suspense because you know the author will survive -- otherwise he wouldn't be writing the book. So, you plod through page after page and then you start skimming paragraphs and then you start skipping pages. All you want to do is find out how he gets rescued and how did it affect his life. There is a fair amount of that and lessons to be learned, but they come at the end of the book. Getting to that point is tedious for the reader. I don't mean to minimize or trivialize what the author went through. The book was worth reading. But perhaps it could have been written differently, or more briefly.
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