Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

4.1 68
by Steven Callahan

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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


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. “Utterly absorbing” (Newsweek), Adrift is a must-have for any adventure library.

Editorial Reviews

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.
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.
New York Time TimesBook Review
A tale of courage and determination in the face of almost insurmountable hardship.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Steven Callahan is the author of Adrift, Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea, which chronicles his life-raft drift across half the Atlantic in 1982, became an NYT Bestseller and has been translated into 15 languages. He also wrote Capsized for survivor Jim Nalepka who spent four months with four other men on an overturned, half-flooded boat. Callahan has contributed writings, illustrations, and photos to more than a dozen other books, many about seamanship or survival, and has authored hundreds of articles for the marine press worldwide. He’s served as contributing editor to Sailor and Sail magazines, and as senior editor at Cruising World, for which he continues to do special projects such as testing new boats and lifesaving equipment. He also speaks publicly and consults, most recently for director Ang Lee on an upcoming film adaptation of the novel Life of Pi. His website is

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Adrift 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my husband, who loves sailing and adventures. He is not an avid reader, but he really enjoyed this book! He had a hard time putting it down each day. He said it made him want to quit his job, build a boat, and travel. Inside the book were multiple drawings, which really helped visualize the path of the author. He had a map of the seas he traveled, and there were random drawings throughout that added interest. Although the book might feel a little long at first (256 pages), it is a quick read and goes by fast because it's so interesting. Highly recommended!
AlaskaDee More than 1 year ago
Steve Callahan's account of being lost at sea for 76 days was absolutely fascinating. Because he kept a journal during the event, he is able to recall each day with amazing detail as well as supplying sketches he made of some of his innovations and of the boat and the fish. You get to see his ups and downs, his state of mind, what sparked new innovations, etc. His survival is truly amazing.
Coach-33 More than 1 year ago
I finally had the opportunity to sit and read this adventure of Steve Callahan vs. the ocean. The detailed description of his daily struggles while adrift at sea was inspiring. His fight for water, food, and sanity was so well scripted in his writings, you could feel his pain. A truly inspiring book, which helps balance our own daily struggles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book details the remarkable journey of Steven Callahan, a man straded at sea for 76 days. The book details the acts of survival as well as the emotions the accompany him on his journey. It is well written and manages to hold ones interest throughout its 232 seemingly short pages. A must read for those looking for travel, adventure and inspiration!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading is not my favorite pastime. I was in the library and the title Adrift caugth my eye. I read the synopsis and fell in love with the book. The book will appeal especially to those who have been at sea and can appreciate the problems Stephen Callahan must face. Callahan creates strategies to accomplish on obtaining water, food, and shelter. He turns his tiny rubber raft into a fully functioning survival home
DanWDW More than 1 year ago
A great book about survival. Luckily he had survival skills, but the odds were definetly against him in a small raft. He learned much about himself and to appreciate the simpler things in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book several years ago when it was first published. I thought I would read it again after hopefully matured a bit. It was just as good as the first time I read it. It's an example of what the human spirit can do when put to the test.
braxtonm More than 1 year ago
I thought that the book was really good and it helped me understand what was going on in the book and i understanded it more becasue the author out dteail and it made me have an image in my mind of the book. The book ws great and i recommend you all to read the book because it is really and truely a really great book and i loved it. please read the book.
Jodee-M_ More than 1 year ago
Incredible Story: Adrift The famous Steve Callahan was lost at sea for 76 days after his sailboat was destroyed in a storm. As no one knew where he was, his only chance of survival was to stay alive in his safety raft with only a few supplies until he reached shipping lanes or land. Adrift, written by Steve Callahan himself, is the retelling of his grueling experience and extreme will to survive. A major theme portrayed throughout this book was perseverance. There were countless times when Callahan could have given up all hope when it came to getting food and water and keeping his raft repaired; however, he was very determined to perfect these survival skills. It was amazing how he found solutions to almost every problem that he encountered in the raft. Callahan also displayed the power of an optimistic attitude. Whether it be lack of food and water or a shark attacking the raft, Callahan learned to look at the positive aspects of his situation, instead of focusing on the endless negative events that occurred. Being able to keep this optimistic outlook is what kept him focused, determined, and in the end alive. The power of his positive mindset is an example to all people. I was very impressed with how Callahan used a surplus of imagery, as it made me feel like I could experience everything that he was. I was able to see, feel, hear, and taste the ocean through his descriptions. I also enjoyed how he wrote about all the thoughts going through his mind, because it helped me understand what his thought process was all throughout his journey, making it very credible and realistic. I disliked the amount of detail he went into when describing killing fish. It was disgusting to read, and occurred numerous times. I would recommend this book to someone because I believe it is an incredible story. It is amazing to experience the 76 days on the raft with Steve Callahan. As the entire story involves one character on the ocean, it is a very easy read; however, it is still attention grabbing and very well written. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. Another book with similar themes that I gave this rating and would suggest is Sarah Gruen’s Water for Elephants.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Forget the self help books, and read this real life story of hope, desire, and courage. Having read few books in my life, I was drawn to this book by chance, but as I read it I began to change as if I too was trying to survive! I now look at daily challenges in life with a new attitude!
224perweek More than 1 year ago
This was by far the best story of survival nonfiction that I have ever read. The detail that the author goes into is amazing. Sometimes I felt as if I was right there with him.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great firsthand account of the struggles and horrors of survival of being adrift at sea. But also the appreciation of his hardships and how it chanhed him into a new person. I throughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.
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jms40js More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this true story of such hardship and such amazing struggles and ingenuity .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. Worth reading.
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