My Biography

Multimar Sail Plan Winslow Life Raft Steven Navigating Clam Sailing Solo 22 Sail Plan

I am probably best known for my best-selling book, Adrift (Houghton Mifflin, 1986), in which I chronicled my 76-day liferaft voyage in 1982, but I also have logged over 80,000 trouble-free miles offshore, most of it with only one or two crew, including seven ocean crossings, on everything from pocket cruisers and proas to gaff-rigged classics during a career spanning more than 40 years. I confess that I love nearly everything that floats and am partial to those designs or maritime quests that are somewhat unusual or completely outside the box. Although my tastes are eclectic, often offbeat, I have worked often with quite conventional boats and elements of the industry. Over the decades, I have designed, built, and delivered boats for private clients and boat building companies. I've not only lived aboard four boats and voyaged on many, but I've also raced, primarily offshore, in several crewed Bermuda races and shorthanded races like the Doublehanded Transatlantic Race, the BT Global Challenge, and the Bermuda 1-2.

In high school in the late 1960s, I taught myself celestial navigation and the principles of boat design, began singlehanded sailing, and helped build a 40-foot trimaran. After university I spent more than five years boat building and repairing all kinds of boats, from traditional wood boats to composite multihulls. For a decade, beginning in the late 1970s, I turned to designing boats. At Delta Marine group, I aided Bob Wallstrom in designing a number of boats to 45 feet and created a portfolio of small designs of my own. I also taught design at Bob's Yacht Design Institute (YDI) where I became lead instructor and helped update and illustrate design texts, authoring one about multihulls. At YDI, I worked with Bob to build both correspondence and residential schools into accredited programs, which were incorporated into Westlawn Institute's design curriculum at a later time.

I often work and sail with my wife and best mate, Kathy Massimini, a nurse, author, and editor. We met while she was building a boat in the 1970s, and have logged many miles together since 1983. We have refit, lived aboard, and cruised a Carter 33 monohull, sailing her in 1989-1990 from Maine to the Caribbean. Between 2002 and 2004, we bought a Cross 40 trimaran, Tryphena, in Australia, lived aboard and refit her as well. I also had lived on a 28-foot Cross trimaran for several years, and a 21-foot pocket voyager for a year, both of which I built.

In recent decades, I have focused more on writing, illustrating, and other media involvement. Beginning in 1977, I authored hundreds of articles for the yachting press worldwide about every aspect of boats and the sea, from profiles and cruising stories to highly technical pieces for those in the marine trades. I served as contributing editor for Sail and Sailor magazines in the 1980s, and was an associate editor, senior editor, and editor at large for Cruising World from 1994 into the new millennium. For several years, I also served as a Cruising World Boat of the Year judge and took on special projects for the magazine, such as testing liferafts.

In addition to Adrift, which has been published in 17 languages, I authored Capsized (HarperCollins 1993) about four men trapped on an overturned half-flooded boat for 119 days. I've contributed to a dozen other books, most about seamanship or survival. I've been interviewed by Larry King, Bryant Gumbell, Johnny Carson, Regis Philbin, and Oprah Winfrey, among others and worked on television documentaries for the BBC, Discovery Channel, NHK Japan, and others. Recently, I worked with Academy Award winning director Ang Lee on the feature film Life of Pi.

In my most popular public presentation about my survival drift, I combine how I learned to "become an aquatic caveman" with vivid anecdotes of others' experiences and with academic research. What emerges are lessons about the stages of survival and successful strategies relevant to anyone who must face trying times in their sailing, personal, or business life. I also speak about writing and illustrating, boat-damage control, handling heavy weather, preparing for offshore, evolution of the multihull, and some of my own unique voyages.

My availability and fees vary, depending on the project. Check out the individual areas of this site to find what services I offer. Please email me and review my mission statement to find out how I and my colleagues might best serve your needs.

Tryphena Anchored at Sand Hills

Copyright © 2011 Steven Callahan