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|I'm not one for disaster books, but I do think that
this one is worth reading. Steve was participating in what I
think was the first "Mini Trans-Atlantic" race from which the rather
extreme "Classe Mini" vessels eventually evolved. At that time
essentially any boat under 6.5 meters (21'4") could compete and no
one really had any clear idea of what type of boat would win.
Steve had a fairly moderate light displacement type, to which he
added enough foam to make it "unsinkable". Because the rules
required it he took an inflatable life raft with him.
He hit something early in the passage. He never knew what or where the damage was. The boat sank underneath him giving him barely time to collect a few things and get into the life raft. It took him 78 days to drift across the rest of the Atlantic to the Caribbean. With little in the way of food and water and a very slow drift, he collected what water he could from rain, and managed to get a bit to eat out of the sea, but basically starved his way across the Atlantic constantly thirsty and hungry. He was later to say that he could not possibly have described the torture of this drift and that if he could have no one could bear to read it. This book is his best balance between the indescribable and the unbearable.
Why do we recommend this book? Because it is very good at underlining some of the reasons that we believe that those of us who choose to go to sea should carry with us small sailing dinghies rigged and equipped to act as lifeboats that give you some hope of rescuing yourself. It is worth noting that right now Steve and his family are off voyaging again and that they took with them a dinghy of his design intended to be a sailing life dinghy. For one of our attempts at designing something like this see our "Miranda" design.
Before closing this review I want to mention what an incredible gentleman Mr. Calahan is, for when he was found drifting in the Caribbean by local fisherman, they fed him their lunches and gave him water and said that they would take him back to shore. He replied that he "wouldn't want to ruin their day's fishing" and waited to be taken to shore until the end of their day. To me this is a consideration for others beyond belief. I salute him.
Having read this I think you will appreciate something of the essential truths of human existence which you can discover at sea, and I think you will go out and get a sailing life dinghy to bring you home rather than sit in a life raft for 78 days. (237 pages) (tm) $14.95