Alone: The True Story of the Man Who Fought the Sharks, Waves, and Weather of the Pacific and Won
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This is the incredible true story of one man’s heroic battle against impossible odds, a tale of pain and anguish, bravery and utter solitude, a tale that ends in a victory not only over the implacable ocean but over himself as well.
At the age of forty-five, Gerard d’Aboville set out to row across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the United States. Taking his rowboat the Sector, which had a living compartment thirty-one inches high, containing a bunk, one-burner stove, and a ham radio, d’Aboville made his way across an ocean 6,200 miles wide. Though he rowed twelve hours a day, battled cyclones and headwinds that kept him in one place for days at a time, was capsized dozens of times forty-foot waves that hit him like cannonballs, he never quit; even when he was trapped upside down inside his cabin for almost two hours while nearly depleting his oxygen trying to right the boat.
One hundred and thirty-four days after his departure, d’Aboville arrived in the little fishing village of Ilwaco, Washington, leaving his body bruised and battered, and weighing thirty-seven pounds less. This is his story.
a rather important date in the Japanese calendar. The appointed day came and went without a drop of rain. Ditto the next day, and the day after. In fact, a whole week went by without any sign of rain, at which point two of the meteorologists committed suicide. The daily countdown to departure day had ceased. I had the feeling the whole endeavor had gone down the drain. All this time and energy wasted — for nothing! By now we had become part of the landscape at the Choshi boat basin in which
difference in cooking my steaks! A key element for my survival were the desalination pumps. Eleven years ago when I crossed the Atlantic, there were no such pumps; I had to carry with me no less than three hundred liters of liquid, including water and wine. The liquid weighed more than the boat itself. For the Pacific, I would have had to take on at least five hundred liters. Fortunately, over the intervening years, compact pumps were invented, whereby seawater could be turned into drinking
passengers comfortably ensconced in their seats directly over my head, I had a very strange feeling. A combination of envy and indifference. The Pacific is incredibly empty. In the course of more than a month I only encountered two ships. One was the car carrier Nissan, which looked like an enormous, floating parking lot, filled to capacity with brand-new cars. They are the ugliest boats I’ve ever seem only by really examining them closely can you tell which end is the stern and which the bow.
mind: “And what if all this were really pointless? What if I were nothing but a clown, a seafaring buffoon, the way there are landlubber clowns and buffoons everywhere, then what’s the point of all this, what is this madness to survive all about?” The answers, or what seemed to be the answers, to those questions would only become clear at the end of my trip. Because I would have stayed the course, given my all, body and soul, to accomplish my goal: to have rowed across that ocean, having done it
Adding to the confusion was an electronic device I showed them, which they took to be the radar command for the toy boat. When I explained to them that this was my distress signal, which I would wear day and night throughout the voyage, it provoked an avalanche of technical questions that I tried to field as best I could. The more authoritative I sounded, I thought, the better my chances of success. Who among them would break rank and offer a personal opinion? Without any rules or regulations to