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438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea
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438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,346 Ratings  ·  408 Reviews
438 Days is the miraculous account of the man who survived alone and adrift at sea longer than anyone in recorded history—as told to journalist Jonathan Franklin in dozens of exclusive interviews.

On November 17, 2012, Salvador Alvarenga left the coast of Mexico for a two-day fishing trip. A vicious storm killed his engine and the current dragged his boat out to sea. The st
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Atria Books
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Petra X
This is a stunning story. How does a hard-partying, spendthrift illegal immigrant (into Mexico!) who sells his catch for subsistence level pay and has no ambitions actually have the wherewithal to survive so long drifting at sea both physically and mentally?

Earlier this year I read Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea. I doubted that 438 Days would be as good because I identified with Steve Callahan who had been shipwrecked off the Canaries while attempting a passage to the Caribbean. I've sail

I am a sucker for survival stories, especially those set at sea. Have no idea why. Perhaps it's for the visceral, vicarious thrill of experiencing these terrifying events unfold from the safety and comfort of my reading chair. Which probably makes me an asshole, but let's be clear -- it's not the SUFFERING I get off on, but the grittiness and ingenuity required of the survivors to live through the ordeal so that we can all learn from it in some profound way (there is a part of me that uses these
What a remarkable story! I've heard about people being found after days and even weeks at sea but never have I heard the story of José Salvador Alvarenga, a man who was adrift in the ocean for 438 days. Where was this news story??? Where was I???

Initially, 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea was to serve as a filler book for me between library holds. I didn't even intend to finish it. But once I started, I was glued and let's just say that my TBR list was quickly put on paus
FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT DAYS! That’s how long José Salvador Alvarenga was stranded at sea. Without a working motor or even any oars, he found himself adrift in his small boat, fighting for his life and sanity as the ocean’s currents carried him, mostly at a snail’s pace, over 6000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. As the author points out, that’s almost the equivalent of a baby crawling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, except for the baby could probably do it faster.

Starting out I was a bit wo
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I not only appreciate the incredible story told, a story that has much to tell anyone who has ever felt themselves facing seemingly insurmountable odds (which is pretty much everyone), but also the tremendous research which creates the basis for the tale, and the heartfelt sympathy and respect that Mr. Franklin gave to Salvador Alvarenga, our protagonist. This story is a feast for the mind as well as the
♥ Sandi ❣
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
The true story of 438 days in the Pacific Ocean - in a small dingy.

Both Salvador Alvarenga, experienced fisherman, and Ezequiel Cordoba, twenty-two year old apprentice, left Costa Azul, Mexico to do a days fishing. Many would not go out that day due to a coming storm, but Alvarenga knew he could make it out and back before the worst of the storm hit. That was not to be. They drifted across the Pacific Ocean, surviving by eating raw turtles and birds. One man died of extreme hunger from his lack
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review was done by KissinBlueKaren

This biography was amazing. It is the type of non fiction that makes me feel good about being alive. In 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea, we meet a man named Salvador Alvarenga and see his unbelievable will to live against all odds.

Somehow, I never heard about this man. I can’t believe this happened in my lifetime and I missed the news about it.

Salvador Alvarenga survived 438 days adrift in a small fishing boat.

He had no food,
Dale Pearl
There are stories of survival and then there is this story of simply refusing to die. Salvador Alvarenga will forever be the man to tough for the sun to fry and for tough circumstances to thwart.

438 days at sea. 118 days with a companion. Are you kidding me? How many could survive that isolation on land with a healthy stock of food and water? Now let's trade your water for urine and your food for raw fish and birds. Let's see how long you manage to survive.

Not only is this story gut wrenching, f
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
“Don’t think about death, if you think you are going to die, you will die…everything will work out…don’t give up hope, remain calm”.

A long-lasting storm of five days overcame fisherman Salvador Alvarenga’s small boat, stalling his engine and tossing all of his navigational equipment, tools, food and water overboard. For months he drifted thousands of miles in solitude in a huge silent ocean, surviving additional storms, a blinding sun, circling sharks and agonizing hunger. There were many terrib
Absolutely enthralling.....


A jaw dropping true account of an ocean-drift survival story. My first Top-Pick for 2016.

438 Days adrift.... Can you imagine drifting tens of thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean - from Mexico to the Marshall Islands in an old wooden Panga; your motor is fried; there are no sails; no oars; no radio. Nothing but you and an endless, relentless horizon.....

Well written and researched. The author, Jonathan Franklin, spent over a year interviewing
Brendan Monroe
This does what it says on the tin. You want a survival story, the typical “guy succeeds against death-defying odds” account? Here it is.

A Salvadoran fisherman named, appropriately enough, Salvador Alvarenga, set out on a fishing expedition from Costa Azul, Mexico. A bad storm moved in, boat blew off course, and 438 days later he washed up on Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands, 6,700 kilometers from the place he had set out from. That’s pretty far away, but during that time Alvarenga's boat was
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maritimes, read-2017
Es ist der erstaunliche Überlebenskampf des Fischers Salvador Alvarenga 438 Tage auf See, in denen er nach einem Sturm vor der mexikanischen Küste erst 10.750 Kilometer westlich wieder Land erreicht. -

Jonathan Franklin versteht jenes Abenteuer mit Bravour zu erzählen. Das Buch glänzt geradezu mit einem klar und logisch strukturierten Aufbau. Er weiß, was die Leserschaft interessiert und stillt ihre Neugier, ohne Pietät und Takt gegenüber Alvarenga einzubüßen. Seine Erzählweise ist spannend und i
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Stranded at sea for 438 days-that's crazy! Seriously! More than a year drifting in the Pacific Ocean. Castaway, Alveranga, reminds me of Zamperini in Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Why do some people endure great peril and suffering while others succumb? Survival and Marine experts weigh in throughout the book and give insight into the misadventure, but it's Alveranga's dogged determination and vivid recollections which make this a riveting read.
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The harrowing adventure of Salvador Alvarenga, Mexican fisherman, who left Costa Azul one morning for a quick fishing trip. Fourteen months later, he washed up on the shores of the Marshall Islands. His story will inspire you and, in his own words, "Be strong. Think positive. Think about the future of your life, that life is beautiful. There are challenges and punishment in life but they can be overcom."
Kayla (kaylareads)
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a story, I found this fascinating and compelling. The story telling is maybe a bit dry, but that's more because its from a journalist that interviewed Salvador, not from his prospective. I will be sharing this book with others and I enjoyed it very much. I received this as a part of a goodreads giveaway.
Karen McP
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not a book I would have chosen, but so glad I read it. Touching, fascinating and ultimately uplifting. If it had been fiction it would have seemed too unbelievable!
Amanda (Kindled)
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
438 Days is an inspirational tale that is incomparable to any other non-fiction story I have ever read. Not only is the story itself noteworthy but Jonathan Franklin’s deft handling of the tale is nothing short of exceptional.

I picked this book up for the Popsugar 2018 Challenge. One of the book challenges was to read a book set at sea. I have to admit that I didn’t have any interest reading a book set at sea but when I read the blurb on the back, the book jacket, and the amazing maps on the end
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an Amazing story of survival. One November 17, 2012 Salvador Alvarenga age 36 and Ezequiel Cordoba age 22 left Costa Azul Mexico in a 25 foot small boat to fish. A storm blew in and pushed the small boat out into the Pacific Ocean. On January 29, 2014 Alvarenga drifted ashore on Ebon, the southern tip of the Marshall Island chain, almost 7000 miles from where he started. Salvador drifted on the ocean current for 438 days. Garbage drifted by some of which he ate and other he found use for ...more
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Experienced fisherman Salvador Alvarenga was lost off the coast of Mexico on 17 November 2012, and while many of his colleagues and friends were in disbelief about his disappearance, none could have imagined he would survive 438 days at sea and drift all the way to the Marshall Islands.

438 Days - An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea is a story of extreme survival, at times awe-inspiring and full of hope but also full of desperation, depression and grief.

If you want to know what Salvado
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I have always admired someone who lives life so fully and with such passion and I, too, love but also deeply fear the sea. Alvarenga lived a very full life; being a "Sharker" was incredibly hard work fraught with danger and he mixed in quite a free styling party life, too. I saw God's hand throughout this book; testing an amazing man and shaping him into a better man and father.

This was beautifully written and filled with a rich abundance of facts and folklore about the sea.
❆ Crystal ❆
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review for audiobook ~ 4 stars story ♫ 4 stars narration. I enjoyed this story of survival... against all odds. Very enjoyable.
The narration by George Newbern was well done... 4 stars.
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't help but compare this book with Unbroken. Unbroken is an undoubtedly 5 star book. This one is maybe a hair short. Possibly because this story is still being written. The protagonist is still under construction. Undaunted is an incredible story of survival and faith. It is a story of forgiveness and of a changed heart and soul in spite of incredible suffering. This book is about never giving up, no matter how bleak it looks. Never, ever give up.

I haven't been able to stop talking about th
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is a nonfiction biography about a man who was stranded at sea for 438 days. He left Mexico for a quick fishing trip with a friend and washed ashore on the Marshall Islands 14 months later. That is crazy.

Since this was a biography, it dealt primarily with the what happened to this man, Salvador Alvarenga, as reported to the author, during his ordeal and what steps he took to stay alive. There was some emotion and despair mentioned but not a lot. I thought it would be encompass that as
Feisty Harriet
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, survival
I really loved/was horrified by this story, it is well written and just so fascinating. Salvador Alvarenga drifted--DRIFTED--across the Pacific for 14 months, no sail, no paddle, no motor, just drifting in a tiny little open fishing boat. This is a real life "Life of Pi" but without the tiger, and it was so interesting. Recommended.
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Outside Magazine
Shelves: audio
Fascinating story of a man lost at sea who survives over one year floating. His emotional, physical and mental survival are equally interesting. I particularly loved his continuous desire for tortillas. A great telling of a harrowing survival story.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
An amazing survival story but it wasn't very well written. I'm not impressed by the author.
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Review originally posted 19 June 2016 at Falling Letters.

Since reading In the Heart of the Sea , I've been interested in reading more stories about 19th century sea exploration and survival tales. 438 Days describes one man's survival lost at sea for over a year. This story, however, differs from the historical stories in which I might find interest. The lost seaman is an El Salvadorian living in Mexico. Salvador Alvarenga became lost after a storm in November 2013. I'm astonished that, in spi
Jill Robbertze
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing true story of survival. I found this book so interesting and totally absorbing. Very well researched and written in a way that made this a page-turner. I also found the additional facts about the psychology behind the success of such survivors very interesting.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quick, entertaining non-fiction read about the perils of a shark fisherman who survived 438 days stranded at sea back in 2013-2014. It's like a real-life LIFE OF PI minus the hyena and bengal tiger. Can't believe this guy lived a whole year on a boat eating raw birds, raw fish, and sea turtles while dodging sharks and other crazy critters in the process. I'm a sucker for survival stories and this one is very intriguing and worth a read. Check 'er out.
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“[...] what else motivated him to spend hour after hour with me, telling all the details of his story? I quote at length his answer.

"I suffered so much and for so long. Maybe if people read this they will realize that if I can make it,they can make it. Many people suffer only because of what happens in their head; I was also physically being tortured. I had no food. No water. If I can make it so can you. If one depressed person avoids committing suicide then the book is a success.

Be strong. Think positive. If you start to think to the contrary, you are headed to failure. Your mind has to be relaxed as you think about survival. Don't think about death. If you think you are going to die, you will die. You have to survive and think about the future of your life, that life is beautiful! How can you imagine taking your own life? There are challenges and punishment in life but you have to fight!”
“Everything will work out... don't give up hope, remain calm.” 4 likes
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