Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

by Steven Callahan

Paperback, 2002



Call number




Harper Paperbacks (2002), 256 pages


Travel. Nonfiction. HTML: Before The Perfect Storm, before In the Heart of the Sea, Steven Callahan's dramatic tale of survival at sea was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than thirty-six weeks. In some ways the model for the new wave of adventure books, Adrift is an undeniable seafaring classic, a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea, fighting for his life in an inflatable raft after his small sloop capsized only six days out. â??Utterly absorbing" (Newsweek), Adrift is a must-have for any adventure library.

Media reviews

Flyt Forlag
Forfatter: Steven Callahan Båten har sunket. I en 5 ½ fots oppblåsbar flåte driver han over Atlanteren. Stormer, brennende sol... Haiangrep, lekkasjer, ødelagt redskap... i 2 ½ måned...! En moderne Robinson Crusoe, men uten noen Fredag og uten øyas ressurser. Hvordan skaffe ferskvann og
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mat? Pleie sår? Reparere? Med hva?! Og stadig dukker det opp nye utfordringer. En beretning om overlevelsesvilje og oppfinnsomhet - aldri gi opp! - men også om naturopplevelser og om den skipbrudnes tanker, drømmer og indre kamper. Overleve! Vil bli stående som en av tidenes store sjøfortellinger. Steven Callahan, f. 1952, er båtkonstruktør og bor i Lamoine i staten Maine i USA. Under hele ferden førte han detaljert loggbok. Han beskriver selv i forordet hvordan han på grunnlag av denne har skrevet boken. Og for ordens skyld, mannen seiler fremdeles...
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User reviews

LibraryThing member dypaloh
After the 21-foot sloop Napoleon Solo sank in the mid-Atlantic, its skipper, Steven Callahan, survived 76 days at sea in a small rubber raft because more than anything else he refused to be The Man Who Cried U.N.C.L.E.

If you recognize and are groaning at that allusion to Ilya Kuryakin’s partner,
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all I can say is it certainly fits the tale told in Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost At Sea.

Callahan’s experiences in surviving the loss of his boat were brutal. By comparison, it’s almost as if Shackleton and his crew were quartered in the Antarctica Hyatt. In Adrift, Callahan suffers on a virtually daily basis physical torments and psychological stresses that are desperate. He tapped knowledge, ingenuity, tenacity, and a bit of luck to keep himself alive long enough to survive. I say, let us treat this man to the sweet ice cream, starchy baked bread, rich fruits and vegetables, sherried crab in flaky pie shells, chocolate pies, and cold beer that filled his fantasies as starvation ravaged his muscles but failed to vanquish his will.

While there may be better written survival stories out there, I’ve not seen any that excel his in its detailing of vivid privation and pushed-to-the-limit greatness. It’s also a book that explains how love of the sea put him out there in the first place and afterward returned him there again. It is filled with surprises. The way dorados punch the bottom of his rubber raft, targeting where he’s sitting. How piscine eyeballs compared to other items on his raft’s menu. I wonder if Steven Callahan orders them up these days when dining at seafood restaurants. I’m guessing probably not.
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LibraryThing member Schmerguls
5460. Adrift Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea, by Steven Callahan (read 10 Apr 2017) This book is on the Natiional Geographic's list of the 100 Breatest Adventure Books and is the 25th ook on that list I have read. The author in February 1982 set out alone from the Canary Islands for the West Indies.
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His boat was lost and he had to take to the lifeboat, which was quite a sophisticated craft with a roof and solar stills to produce drinking water--but no motor. He was a vry resouceful person very able to help himself but it was 76 days before he reached the West Indies and was ale o be taken ashore on the island of Marie Galante, near Guadalaupe. Since the title of the book tells us it will be 76 days before he is saved we know he will survive but of course he did not. But he was a very savvy sailor and was able to help himself overcome the many things which went wrong. It is a tension-filled book and certainly belongs on the list of great adventure books. One cannot help but feel he was foolish to set out alone to cross the Atlantic in small boat but his resourcefulness shows that was not quite as rash as it seemed.
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LibraryThing member christinejoseph
76 days lost at sea - good novel @ solo + his loss at sea survival him w/ water - sea friend

Adrift is an undeniable seafaring classic, a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea, fighting for his life in an inflatable raft after his small
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sloop capsized only six days out.
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LibraryThing member Oreillynsf
As a story, amazing. As a book, not bad. If you like survivalist stories, it is a great one. An astounding one. Just the Herculean efforts he had to make to get drinking water are worth the read. But the writing is not all that great. It has high moments, but it also has some long slogs of somewhat
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repetitive content.
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
Adrift is notable because it was written by an American born post-World War II, 1952 to be exact, and in recent times, early 1980s. There have been older, longer and more epic castaway stories, contrary to the publishers blurb it is not the longest survival alone at sea. It struck a chord because
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it happened recently, to an American Baby Boomer, making the New York Times Bestseller List for 30 some weeks. National Geographic honored it as #67 on its list of all-time greatest outdoor/adventure stories. I have yet to read a dud from the list and this is another good one.

The writing is occasionally cliche and repetitive, some of the descriptions difficult to visualize, the emotions at times piled on to over-effect. Yet we do feel as if we are there, the little details add up to a whole experience and give one a sense of the hunger, physical toil and fears of being aboard an inflatable life raft. The back-story aspect is weak, he was basically just vagabonding around; the after-story is one of capitalizing on his experience.

Some memorable experiences include a sense of vertigo with the only thing separating Steven and a 5000 feet fall to the bottom a thin rubber sheet, as items dropped overboard spiral out of site on a long journey downward. The image of his legs pushing through the rubber bottom into which sharks and fish crash. Eating raw fish eyeballs, cracking spinal bones, livers and the contents of fish stomachs. The heightened senses on reaching land as everything seemed ultra-real and electric, I've experienced the same thing after being bedridden for a long time.
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LibraryThing member jyasinchuk
A truly inspiring read. While at times it drags, Callahan's description from the capsizing, his over-confidence, fear of death and unique 'relationship' with the dorados is amazingly! This is right up there with "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air" for curricular possibilities. The strength, will,
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and sheer dumb luck of the human spirit is on display here. Recommended for Grades 8-12.
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LibraryThing member francophoney
An interesting account of Callahan's fight to survive the ups and downs of the Atlantic in a life raft. Callahan proves to be extremely resourceful and makes do with very little for two and a half months adrift.

However, after the first twenty days, days tend to blur together, and the fight to stay
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warm, dry, and fed rather repetitive. Less committed readers(I had students who had chosen this as a book selection for class) may struggle to stay motivated.
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LibraryThing member Lynn_Barker
Remarkable, highly readable, interesting, true account based on the author's journal kept during the 76 days he spent in a tiny life raft in the Atlantic. He recalls that in keeping the journal, he used the pages of one side to record happenings and the facing page to record his thoughts and ideas.
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The book is illustrated with the author's own drawings.
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LibraryThing member Marlene-NL
On Tuesday, April 03, 2007 I wrote about this book:

Finished reading this last night. Once you start reading you cannot stop.
I love the drawings . This guys is so inventive it is unbelievable. He never gave up. How he had to struggle, just to keep the raft afloat, to get a little bit of water, and
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to kill the fish who always swam with him and he looked upon them as his only companions. The sea water that tortured his skin. Amazing!!
Highly recommend. 9 out of 10 4.5 stars
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LibraryThing member caylin
This book is related to Nim's Island where a boy runs into trouble after setting sail.
LibraryThing member michelle.mount
Callahan not only has an amazing story but his sincere rhythmic writing lends its self in time with the story. When a great plot, honesty and art come together that always makes a monumental book. And this is one of those.

Imagine seventy-six days of just salt water some fish and a raft and it’s
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an absolute page turner. Also a red flag for me is that it’s a one hit wonder. None of Callahan’s other books are still in publication. But this one lasted, it’s a classic.
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LibraryThing member HelenGress
This book chronicles 76 days the author spend adrift on a 5 1/2 “ raft in the Atlantic Ocean. Lots of survival details- interesting story. It is amazing that her survived the ordeal.
LibraryThing member WongXu
Sea I enjoyed the first part of the book when he was in the race and the next part where he was sinking. After a while it started getting repetitious though. It got good again when he was saved. A good book to read and not worry about skimming and losing anything.
LibraryThing member ccsellers
Great read
LibraryThing member StevenJohnTait
Amazing story of survival. I don't want to be over judgemental but the guy was so selfish he wouldn't even travel home with his parents after the ordeal. He seemed really selfish after he'd hit dry land. Maybe this was as psychological thing though after being alone in that environment for so long.
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Definitely worth reading.
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LibraryThing member veranasi
I read this when I was eight. I haven't read it since. I'm afraid that if I do, I won't appreciate it as much. When I was eight I wrote a song about the boat "Napoleon Solo." I still sing it in my head from time to time. The story was an awesome survival story (if you are into that) and Callahan
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even takes the time to make comparisons to other lost-at-sea adventures. 76 days! He even manages to find a way to get fresh drinking water. Impressive.
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LibraryThing member DeafScribe
An incredible tale of courage and tenacity, and a powerful lesson on the value of emergency preparedness.
LibraryThing member kslade
Great true story of surviving in a tiny life raft in the Atlantic. He's almost like McGiver for using things at hand to improve his chances. Makes you appreciate life more. I was relieved when he finally made his goal.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

256 p.; 8.25 inches


0618257322 / 9780618257324


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