Thirty years ago, Steven Callahan was out alone in his sailboat, the Napoleon Solo, on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately his voyage didn’t actually go across the ocean but instead went horribly wrong when his boat struck an unknown object in a storm (presumably a whale) and sank. The 29 year old Callahan managed to retrieve some supplies from his sinking boat including solar stills, a small amount of food, navigational charts, flares, and a speargun. But with meager supplies, no way to contact anyone, and being located outside of any major shipping channels, his chances of survival were slim … at best.
When he was rescued 76 days later off the coast of Guadalupe by fishermen who noticed the birds flying around his raft, he was still alive. He had lost one third of his body weight and was covered in saltwater sores but he was alive. How? He determined that if he were to survive this ordeal, it would be entirely up to his ingenuity and his personal determination to NOT be defeated by his circumstances. His reasoning was that “compared to what others have been through, I’m fortunate.” He later said in an interview, “I [told] myself I could handle it and said these things over and over, building up fortitude …”
His survival account was profiled in the Discovery Channel/Animal Plannet series, I Shouldn’t Be Alive, and in his own book Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea. How he did it is simply fascinating. He managed to catch fish, used his solar still to make fresh water from evaporated sea water, captured rain water, exercised, built up food and water supplies for future use, made repairs to his raft, and prioritized each and every problem he encountered.