Books

Adrift by Steven Callahan

Just your average boat trip.

Have you ever just wanted to just get away from it all and spend some time traveling on your own terms? Well, if this urge has ever compelled you to spend 76 days alone, lost at sea, eating raw birds and having intellectual conversations with marine life, many people would question your mental integrity. But that’s exactly what Steven Callahan did during an attempted solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a rather small sailboat. Callahan was capsized during a ferocious storm and inadvertently winds up peering into the primal depths of his own psyche, desperately clinging to a life raft in the middle of the unforgiving ocean.

Drifting between delusional episodes and eloquent philosophical disquisitions, Callahan weaves together his tale of anguish and self-preservation. The monotony of his journey is brought to life in meticulous detail, the reader can feel the continuous bombardment of menacing sharks and elegant dorados. His account of survival blends unimaginable levels of exhaustion and frustration with the diametric feeling of elation that come from accomplishments that would ordinarily seem trivial. Overall, Adrift will instill within you an insatiable lust for life and simultaneously remove your will to live. The reader climbs aboard and witnesses Steven Callahan try to maintain his grip on reality while forging a ballsy path into the unknown.

There’s something to be said for an individual who undertakes a trip of this magnitude. Steven Callahan did what many people talk of, but never muster up the intestinal fortitude to actually do. He quit his job, left everything behind and went for the gusto. And it led to a superfluity of agony, misery and unmitigated discomfort. It wasn’t for nothing, as in the long run, he wound up becoming an award winning author and was able to resume his previous occupation as a naval architect with renewed vigor. He has since written hundreds of articles, contributed to several other books and founded his own marine safety company. He also invented “The Clam”. All of this was possible as a result of Callahan’s seamanship and of course the luck of the insane. Callahan learned more about himself and the planet he lives on than he ever could imagine by wallowing in complacency at his desk job. He clung on to his life raft with every last ounce of energy in his emaciated, scorched, sore-ridden body. With an unparalleled will to survive, Callahan proves that even someone leading a commonplace, insipid life can summon the strength to press on against all odds. The hardest part of his journey was extracting himself from the American workforce to assume his role as an insane voyager. That, mis amigos, is most definitely where it’s at.

Even though Adrift may not be pure adventure travel, it certainly pushes the boundaries of extreme adventure long before it became a catchphrase. As in other adventure tales, such as Don Starkell’s Paddle to the Amazon, where the adventurer actually lives to tell about it, incredible luck was crucial to their successes. Overall, Callahan proves himself to be a true survivor, refusing to give up, even when faced with daunting challenges; a lesson applicable to our own everyday lives … especially when we feel as though we too have been cast adrift.


Carlos Quantos