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Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  16,173 ratings  ·  899 reviews
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 alo ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published October 17th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published December 31st 1986)
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Raquel Pitcher No movie that I know but the story was featured on "I shouldn't be alive" a show about true stories of survival. I really liked it.

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Average rating 4.12  · 
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10 Stars If anyone was going to get shipwrecked and survive alone on the Atlantic it was Steve Callahan. He was a delivery skipper sailing boats from one place to another and he very much wanted to do a single-handed across the Atlantic. He had studied books on surviving at sea, he'd bought all the correct gear, practised the manoeuvres necessary to get off a sinking boat as fast as possible and within hours of setting off from the Canaries, his boat sank.

There is nothing I can write further tha
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be required reading for anyone going out to sea in any type vessel.

This book being a true account it moves along at the pace it simply must,
and the adventure within takes us to the very limits of human survival.
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
It all begins with entering a race........and once his beloved SOLO is lost, what if's and survival is the name of the game for Steven Callahan's 1982 life-raft ADRIFT across half the Atlantic Ocean.

Often wet, cold or overheated, always starving thirsty or scared, with sores and ulcers plaguing him, and never-ending attacks by the bumping dorados, Callahan continues his daily routines amidst unbelievably harsh conditions for 76 long days.

While at times a bit too detailed and descriptive (for me)

Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure-true
After 76 days at sea, living off very little water and what fish he could catch, he was saved and taken to the hospital. The doctor walked over to him while he was in the waiting room and said, “What’s the matter with you?” That was the only time I laughed during the reading of this book, because it should have been obvious and because his reply was, “I am hungry.”

This true adventure/survival story was almost as good as Kon-Tiki, but it still gets 5 stars from me and placed into my favorite book
Jan 25, 2010 added it
Shelves: library
LOVE LOVE LOVED this book. I'm a serious oceanophile(?) and seek any and all books associated with sailing/shipwrecks/stranded at sea and this book captured all of them together. Although it sounds weird, I loved living with the author on his sordid journey. I could almost feel the saltwater chafing his skin...feel the sharks poking at the bottom of the raft...smell the rotting fish as they hung from his makeshift drying racks - I loved every moment (this I admit sitting in the comfort of my own ...more
Miquel Reina
I found “Adrift” during the documentation process for the novel I was writing that moment: Luces en el Mar (Lights on the Sea). After reading the synopsis and discover that the story of Steven Callahan was real I felt more and more curious about reading it. “Adrift” is a great novel for those readers who like stories of survival, where the sea is protagonist and antagonist and above all, lovers of adventures, ADVENTURES in capital letters. Callahan's story is so vivid and real that you feel imme ...more
Empress Reece (Hooked on Books)
My son had to read a non-fiction informative book for school and this is what he picked with my assistance. When he has to read for school, I read the book too to try and encourage his reading habits and make it more enjoyable for him because he's at that age where the only thing he wants to read is sports headlines, video game stats and the titles of YouTube videos.

Unfortunately we both regretted picking this book almost immediately. The author's excessive overuse of adjectives and flowery pro
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
A fast-moving and captivating book that grabs hold and carries you right through the end.

So why three stars? Well, Callahan is not the most reliable narrator. Once the wild ride is over, the weird inconsistencies that you didn't have time to think about mid-read start to gnaw at the edge of your consciousness. Then there is Callahan's ego, which is big enough to capsize his ship even without a rogue wave. The too careful minimization of his errors, and his tendency towards inflated descriptions
Susan Spieth
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The entire book is set in a small life raft where the author struggles to catch fish, capture water, plug holes and stay alive for 76 days. It's monotonous stuff that is somehow riveting. And it made me realize that I have nothin' to complain about....ever.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding book. The struggle for survival for two and a half months would have made a compelling, page-turner even if written by a terrible author. It just so happens that style rivals the substance.

Survival story junkies will revel in all the gory details, from his constant attention to water retrieval to the nuances of spear-fishing to keeping his deteriorating raft afloat for 76 days. Amateur psychologists will enjoy his inner dialogue, the rational consciousness scolding his fe
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I heard the author interviewed in connection with his consulting with Ang Lee for the movie Life of Pi. This is the story of his 76 days lost at sea, with close to nothing to sustain him but his knowledge and endurance. He is a thoughtful observer of himself and of the world around him. His experience reinforces his sense of being a tiny morsel in the universe not its center. He suffers physically and emotionally but something drives him on and he arrives in the Caribbean, not far from where he ...more
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
After his sailboat sinks in the Atlantic, Callahan is left to survive on a small life raft. (Alone! Eek!) Of course it removes a layer of suspense knowing that he survived (obviously, since he wrote the book), but there was still excellent tension throughout, as he was tossed about in the unforgiving ocean.

While it doesn't have the journalistic edge/drive that you might find in one of Krakauer's books, I found Adrift to be quite well-written. It is as much about his struggle to stay focused and
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: survival story lovers, fishermen, sailors
I picked up this book when my family rented a beach place for vacation and I was looking for something to read. I'd finished my own book already and it was the only one that grabbed my attention on the owners' shelf.

Let me say that I did not expect to like this book. I read the last couple chapters first, just skimming out of curiosity and boredom...and then proceeded to get hooked and start from the beginning. Reading a book like this on the beach was quite an experience, and it's a riveting su
Joseph Wiederhold
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Despite some of the negative reviews, I found this book bordering on poetic. For being a survival story it has some pretty amazing writing... great example for teaching double voice (Callahan speaks to the various imaginary crew members inside his head)... great recommend for YA teen boy... I started it this morning and couldn't put it down.
Rebecca McNutt
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really haunting and unforgettable survival story, I assumed that it might get boring but it stayed interesting the entire way through.
Sophie Schiller
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Adrift is about one man's solitary journey, both internal and external, on the perilous ledge between life and death. Steven Callahan is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Antigua, but before he departs, an elderly fisherman points to his vessel, the 21' long Napoleon Solo, and says, "In such a small boat? Tonto!" (Fool) The rest of the journey is fraught with danger, starting from when the Napoleon Solo capsizes and sinks, forcing Callahan to abandon ship in a rub ...more
Paul Spencer
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most riveting books I've ever read.

Someone told me about this book back in the 1980s and I knew that I had to read it.

Steven Callahan, an accomplished sailor, decided to build his own sailboat after he and his wife divorced. Once built, he sailed it to England where he intended to enter a boat race that takes place every year. The race is from England to the Caribbean.

He is forced to drop out of the race because his boat is damaged in a storm. When it is repaired, he decides
Helen Dunn
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I bought this by accident after seeing a preview for the new movie Adrift that’s coming out in summer 2018. Turns out that’s a different tale of disaster at sea.

Anyway, this one is about a young guy in the 80s who is sailing solo from the Canary Islands to Antigua when something (likely an accidental whale strike) causes his sailboat to sink. He throw what supplies he can into the lifeboat and spends the next 76 days adrift.

It’s terrifying just to consider it for a single day!

Callahan writes
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Powerful read! The human spirit is truly amazing in its resilience. I am blown away by all that he managed to do to stay alive. Having that nautical knowledge really came in handy, most of us would not make it a week without all the skills he had. I was especially interested in his navigation notes and other random tidbits of information, it brought back some of the good old Navy days.
James Hartley
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I´d wanted to read this book for ages for a mixture of reasons. I like a decent survival story but mainly I am fascinated by the open ocean - the vast, scary scale of it. The idea of falling off a boat and being lost in the middle of that endless blue desert, with all that´s in it and above it, is a thought which fascinates, terrifies and amuses me. So I wanted to read this book to find out what Steven Callahan made of it - after all, he did it.
An experienced sailor, Callahan´s small, well-equi
Oct 24, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a true tale of Callahan’s survival after his small sloop sunk off the shores of the Canary Islands in 1982. I heard about this from a book magazine that had a section about notable books about the sea. This is supposed to be one of the best books about a ship wreck and living to tell about it. I agree it is pretty good, however, I would have liked to read more about what happened after he was rescued. Of the 344 pages, only 39 pages are devoted to his rescue and recovery. The best part a ...more
Emily  Philbin
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I know this man survived a harrowing ordeal that honestly so many others wouldn't or couldn't, and that's impressive. And I know that he put serious effort into the descriptions complete with diagrams, etc., for those of us who are not familiar with sailing, and that he isn't a writer by trade. But I didn't really get into this book until like day 50 something and then only for a day or two. In the beginning I was bored to be frank as I knew he was going to be rescued, obviously, and I just foun ...more
Oct 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After his boat capsizes, Steve Callahan is stranded at sea for seventy-six days, after two days reading this book, i feel i suffered more.

Usually i enjoy survival stories, man v mother nature and man overcoming the odds to survive, not with Mr Callahan's writing, everything is there to make this a gripping story but it's just dull.

I'm sure given the choice Steve Callahan wouldn't want to suffer the same fate again and given the choice i would rather be stranded than read this a second time.
Joanne Parkington
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
A gripping read from a very brave & courageous man who is not afraid to admit that most of the time he was indeed just that .. very afraid! And who wouldn't be given the situation ... i think that this would appeal more to fellow sailor's & other seafarer's as the technical jargon was lost on me .. i just wanted to know what happend. Well written & hugely entertaining .. i especially liked the line ' a view of Heaven from a seat in Hell' ... this against the odd's story of keeping mind & body to ...more
Fantastic. I was so impressed by Callahan's ability to focus, and to fix the failing equipment when he needed to. His strength of mind was incredible. I wrote more about it in my Commonplace Book.
5 Stars

I come from a family of book lovers. But if we aren't reading books, you'll probably find us outside. Much of my childhood was spent in outdoor adventures both on land and on sea. So my parents taught me survival skills from a young age. Adrift was probably the book that my dad referenced the most often, so I was familiar with Callahan's story long before I ever read this book.

If you did not guess from the title, Adrift is the true story of a man who, after his boat sinks, spends seventy-
When Callahan set out to cross the Atlantic, he didn't expect to make most of that journey in a drifting rubber raft: he expected to make it in a fully equipped sailboat. The ocean had other ideas.

Two things really make this book. The first is that Callahan isn't a writer by trade, he can indeed write quite well; he talks a bit in the introduction about the process of putting to book together, but even without that it would be clear that he gave it a great deal of thought. Ditto the illustration
meghan chriss
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea, is an “edge of your seat” memoir about author and sailor, Steven Callahans astounding ordeal of voyaging through the dangers of the ocean alone for more than a month. This first hand account tells of the struggles he faced, from shark attacks to the heartbreaking realizations after nine ships pass him by. This book will have you re-living this survival story right next to Steven. With his emotional descriptions and amazing stories of his hardships, you will experienc ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
This book looked very interesting to me when it was offered by Kindle at a price one third the cost of any paper back book on the magazine stand. This book of survival was akin to the book "Up In Thin Air" and "The Perfect Storm". It can be a very fast read but I choose to read it and then deliberate on the experiences of Steve Callahan, in this well written true story (memoir). I am not sure if the uninitiated experiencing this situation would have survived the ordeal. Callahan was very knowled ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
was this the predecessor work for Life of Pi? certainly at least some people think so, as the author reveals in the foreword that people have written letters to him claiming 'spiritual guidance' in the tale. and Callahan, moreover, was a philosophy major in university, just as the esteemed Yann Martel, that fraudster. (ha)

1987 New York Times best-seller sensation, Callahan's work does characterize time and philosophy and 76 days passes by in the sweep of a full book. beats that Andean plane cras
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Non-Fiction Enthu...: December Group Read 2 2 16 Jan 04, 2015 10:27AM  
Robert Redford should have acknowledged Callahan 3 24 Feb 19, 2014 04:41PM  

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Steven Callahan is an American author, naval architect, inventor, and sailor most notable for having survived for 76 days adrift on the Atlantic Ocean in a survival raft. Callahan recounted his ordeal in the best-selling book "Adrift: 76 days lost at sea", which was on the New York Times best-seller list for more than thirty-six weeks.

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