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Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea Paperback – October 17, 2002
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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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I have devoured all the survival stories I could find on Amazon. Shackleton, Mawson, Everest 1996, K2 2008, WWII escapes, the waleship Essex, Skeletons of the Zahara, Krakauer's stuff - you name it. These three books stand out from the rest in that each author goes in-depth into the psychology of survival, in addition to the amazing facts of the amazing stories themselves. Ralston's realization that he'll never see his son. Callahan's "view of heaven from a seat in hell". Simpson's "brown girl in the ring"... The humanity of these young men - alone and on the brink - makes these narratives so special! Read this book and I highly recommend the other two as well.
He includes drawings and descriptions of the various repairs and adaptations that enabled him to survive. I appreciate that the Kindle version included the drawings though they were a little hard to make out. He also describes how he navigated, as well as his physical condition which became very bad from starvation and the constant exposure to salt water. Glad to know that Steven Callahan continues to write about sailing, and that he was a consultant for the film version of Life of Pi.
Anyone battling demons of their own will find solace in Callahan's struggle to survive, which is a metaphor for all mens' struggles to survive an often hostile world with often insurmountable odds.
"I imagine two stone-faced poker players throwing chips into a pile. One player is named Rescue and the other is Death. The stakes keep getting bigger and bigger. The pile of chips now stands as tall as a man and as big around as a raft. Somebody is going to win soon."
The ocean, the sharks, the weather, and hunger are all metaphors for the demons we all battle on a daily basis: joblessness, despair, jealousy, hatred, vengeance. Yet, depite the terrible privations he experiences on the sea, Callahan also experiences moments of profound solace:
"As I look out of the raft, I see God's face in the smooth waves, His grace in the dorado's swim, feel His breath against my cheek as it sweeps down from the sky. I see that all creation is made in His image."
A truly remarkable tale of survival against the odds, "Adrift" is a a great gift for anyone going through a crisis. It will remind him that "...to be well fed, painless, and in the company of friends and loved ones are privileges too few enjoy in this often brutal world." Well said Callahan!