Adrift with William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting
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Welcome to the daring, thrilling, and downright strange
adventures of William Willis, one of the world's original
extreme sportsmen. Driven by an unfettered appetite for
personal challenge and a yen for the path of most
resistance, Willis mounted a single-handed and wholly
unlikely rescue in the jungles of French Guiana and then
twice crossed the broad Pacific on rafts of his own design,
with only housecats and a parrot for companionship. His
first voyage, atop a ten-ton balsa monstrosity, was
undertaken in 1954 when Willis was sixty. His second raft,
having crossed eleven thousand miles from Peru, found the
north shore of Australia shortly after Willis's seventieth
birthday. A marvel of vigor and fitness, William Willis was
a connoisseur of ordeal, all but orchestrating short
rations, ship-wreck conditions, and crushing solitude on his
He'd been inspired by Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl's bid to
prove that a primitive raft could negotiate the open ocean.
Willis's trips confirmed that a primitive man could as well.
Willis survived on rye flour and seawater, sang to keep his
spirits up, communicated with his wife via telepathy,
suffered from bouts of temporary blindness, and eased the
intermittent pain of a double hernia by looping a halyard
around his ankles and dangling upside-down from his mast.
Rich with vivid detail and wry humor, Seaworthy is the story
of a sailor you've probably never heard of but need to know.
In an age when countless rafts were adrift on the waters of
the world, their crews out to shore up one theory of
ethno-migration or tear down another, Willis's challenges
remained refreshingly personal. His methods were eccentric,
his accomplishments little short of remarkable. Don't miss
the chance to meet this singular monk of the sea.
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