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Voyage of the Manteno: The Education of a Modern-Day Expeditioner

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Voyage of the Manteno: The Education of a Modern-Day Expeditioner Cover

ISBN13: 9780312324322
ISBN10: 0312324324
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1995, John Haslett went to a tiny fishing village in Ecuador to begin building a thirty-thousand pound raft made entirely of balsa wood, bamboo, and manila rope. Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's famed Kon-Tiki voyage, Haslett intended to sail five thousand nautical miles across the open sea to Hawaii. What transpired, however, was anything but a recreation of Heyerdahl's famous voyage.

Review:

"Adventurer John Haslett narrates two epic ocean voyages he made over a four-year period in the mid-1990s. Sailing on large balsa rafts that he crafted from ancient designs, Haslett first attempts to reach Hawaii, only to find himself marooned in Panama. In another expedition, Haslett heads for western Mexico and winds up wrecked in Costa Rica. Ostensibly, this modern-day Heyerdahl is attempting to follow trade routes used by pre-Columbian balsa-raft sailors; however, Haslett makes it quite clear that he is really after adventures. There is certainly no shortage of those, including hurricanes, shark attacks, tropical diseases, a U.S. warship, psychotic crewmen and ravenous sea worms that devour Haslett's ship under his feet. Haslett is at his best describing his struggles and the superhuman endurance necessary to mount expeditions of this type. While readers are given little in the way of history, anthropology or psychological insight, the lack is barely felt. Haslett's two most important characters are the sea and the raft, and they come alive on almost every page. In an age when even Mt. Everest and the South Pole have been domesticated, Haslett offers all the romance of an old-fashioned sea tale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Adventurer John Haslett narrates two epic ocean voyages he made over a four-year period in the mid-1990s. Sailing on large balsa rafts that he crafted from ancient designs, Haslett first attempts to reach Hawaii, only to find himself marooned in Panama. In another expedition, Haslett heads for western Mexico and winds up wrecked in Costa Rica. Ostensibly, this modern-day Heyerdahl is attempting to follow trade routes used by pre-Columbian balsa-raft sailors; however, Haslett makes it quite clear that he is really after adventures. There is certainly no shortage of those, including hurricanes, shark attacks, tropical diseases, a U.S. warship, psychotic crewmen and ravenous sea worms that devour Haslett's ship under his feet. Haslett is at his best describing his struggles and the superhuman endurance necessary to mount expeditions of this type. While readers are given little in the way of history, anthropology or psychological insight, the lack is barely felt. Haslett's two most important characters are the sea and the raft, and they come alive on almost every page. In an age when even Mt. Everest and the South Pole have been domesticated, Haslett offers all the romance of an old-fashioned sea tale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Haslett's prose vibrates with energy....This is a loud, insistently physical read, stuffed with grim battles against and healthy respect for fundamental forces." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"A triumph of human curiousity and preserverance. John Haslett has brilliantly combined the expeditionary toughness of Ernest Shackelton and the cutting prose of Ernest Hemingway to fashion an instant classic of adventure." P. J. Capelotti, author of Sea Drift: Rafting Adventures in the Wake of Kon-Tiki

Synopsis:

In 1995, John Haslett went to a tiny fishing village in Ecuador to begin building a thirty-thousand-pound raft made entirely of balsa wood, bamboo, and manila rope. Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's famed Kon-Tiki voyage, Haslett intended to sail five thousand nautical miles across the open sea to Hawaii. What transpired, however, was anything but a recreation of Heyerdahl's famous voyage.
Over the next five years, Haslett and his crews journeyed through a surreal odyssey of madness, mutiny, obsession, and survival. They lived aboard primitive rafts for months at a time, were marooned in alien worlds, saw one vessel sunk, another abandoned, and another wrecked. Ultimately, Haslett and his colleagues would emerge with new discoveries about a lost culture.
Voyage of the Manteno is an ancient sea tale, lived by modern men. It is a compelling adventure brought to life by a cast of characters who vary from the ordinary, to the heroic, to an Ahab-like crewman who teetered on the brink of insanity. A tale of hope, survival, and discovery, Voyage of the Manteno is the true story of two harrowing expeditions in the late 1990s.

About the Author

John Haslett is a full-time expeditioner. He has written articles for such magazines and journals as QST and Archaeology. The story of his Manteno expedition was the subject of a two-hour special aired on the Outdoor Life Network. Other stories of his expeditions appeared on ABCNews.com and CNN.com and in The Dallas Morning News as well as The Oakland Tribune. See the author's Web site at www.balsaraft.com.

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Caterina Provost-Smith, June 16, 2007 (view all comments by Caterina Provost-Smith)
I bought this book as a Father's Day present after hearing an amazing interview with John Haslett on the NPR radio program Think, on KERA in Dallas. Before wrapping it up to send to my dad, I made the "mistake" of starting to read it and couldn't put it down.

This is a compelling, moving, and beautifully written account (with photos) of John Haslett's attempts, with friends, to resurrect the dead technology and lost sailing arts of the ancient Manteno people of Ecuador. The Manteno had a maritime trading culture, navigating huge sailing ships - "rafts" - up and down the coast of the Americas. Through the course of building and sailing four such rafts over several years, Haslett gradually becomes aware of his mission, transforming from an adventurer with something to prove to a researcher with the ability to contribute to a body of knowledge. Haslett's strong prose brings alive sounds, sights, smells and physical sensations - intense, unexpected, sometimes intolerable, sometimes breathtaking - bringing the reader into the action. It is foremost a document of his experience, but also, as the title claims, of his education.

I was repeatedly astonished at the author's (and his compatriots') supreme good luck in managing to survive to tell their tale. The sequence of disasters they endured seemed endless and incredibly varied - a small sample includes deliberate sabotage by an insane crewmember; spiraling for months in the Gyre (a deadly circular current) while sea-worms literally ate their raft out from under them; a near-fatal infection far from medical care; the assault and false imprisonment of one crewmember by a corrupt police officer; and watching their 30,000 pound craft sail away without them while they paddle after it in a half-inflated dinghy. Even more astonishing was the author's refusal to give up. He somehow continued to believe in the possibility of completing his intended voyages, even as the odds piled up against him again and again.

Intermingled with their (mis)adventures were times of joy, delight, wonder, and unexpected humor. Sharks roll to scratch their bellies against ends of the raft's big logs. Dolphins and whales curiously examine the raft and the diving men. The indefatigable inventiveness of a pair of Columbian sailors provides life-saving drinking water as well as little unexpected "luxuries."

Although it is not the book's focus, we also see glimpses of the environmental degradation of the ocean. Haslett's frequently assumes that the conditions he faces, including the voracious sea-worms that destroy his rafts, are the same as those faced by the ancient Manteno, but what if the pollution and fish depopulation he witnessed have also resulted in sea-worm "bloom" leading to more severe infestations?

Many of the expedition's "disasters" actually resulted from inexperience and lack of information. Haslett was blundering headlong in the dark to recreate lost technology and technique - and blundering from his role as solo adventurer to his role as a leader of men. Impatience - the urge and need to get underway without adequate preparation - working on a modern clock rather than an ancient one - also ultimately doomed every voyage, according to Haslett. In relating all this, I found Haslett's account courageous. He was willing to share the details of the expedition's repeated failures, and admitted that his own shortcomings as a leader played no small part in the first raft's demise and the first team's disintegration.

Haslett's relationships with his crew and the many generous people who helped them were poignant. He generally portrays them with respect and conveys their very distinct personalities, sometimes exposing too many warts. Yet he also conveys a slightly overwhelmed sense of gratitude, profound love, and a bit of guilt toward most of his crewmembers. Some were truly heroic, saving the lives of the entire crew; most endured conditions much worse than they had expected, even to the point of trauma. Haslett admits to being harsh on them during the first voyage. With regard to one young man there is a strange gap in the narrative. Haslett describes the man as immature but hardworking and enthusiastic, yet when he drifts away during the construction of a new raft, Haslett seems strangely glad to get rid of him. He was a budding documentary filmmaker, and it is not clear what happened to his footage, or to him. I find myself with strong emotions towards many of the book's 'characters," especially Dower, the Ecuadoran fisherman whose maritime experience saved the expedition many times.

This was a worthwhile read, one that calls for a next installment. I hope that John Haslett and his future crew succeed in learning how to build a raft that they can navigate successfully all the way along the ancient Manteno's hypothetical trade route to Mexico - I'll be cheering them on from the shore!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780312324322
Subtitle:
The Education of a Modern-Day Expeditioner
Author:
Haslett, John F.
Author:
Haslett, John
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Travel
Subject:
Sailing
Subject:
Voyages and travels
Subject:
Rafts.
Subject:
Sailing - General
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20061128
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Plus one 16-page bandw photo insert
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 x 1.19 in

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Related Subjects

Transportation » Nautical » Nautical Lore
Transportation » Nautical » Sailing

Voyage of the Manteno: The Education of a Modern-Day Expeditioner Used Hardcover
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Product details 336 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312324322 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Adventurer John Haslett narrates two epic ocean voyages he made over a four-year period in the mid-1990s. Sailing on large balsa rafts that he crafted from ancient designs, Haslett first attempts to reach Hawaii, only to find himself marooned in Panama. In another expedition, Haslett heads for western Mexico and winds up wrecked in Costa Rica. Ostensibly, this modern-day Heyerdahl is attempting to follow trade routes used by pre-Columbian balsa-raft sailors; however, Haslett makes it quite clear that he is really after adventures. There is certainly no shortage of those, including hurricanes, shark attacks, tropical diseases, a U.S. warship, psychotic crewmen and ravenous sea worms that devour Haslett's ship under his feet. Haslett is at his best describing his struggles and the superhuman endurance necessary to mount expeditions of this type. While readers are given little in the way of history, anthropology or psychological insight, the lack is barely felt. Haslett's two most important characters are the sea and the raft, and they come alive on almost every page. In an age when even Mt. Everest and the South Pole have been domesticated, Haslett offers all the romance of an old-fashioned sea tale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Adventurer John Haslett narrates two epic ocean voyages he made over a four-year period in the mid-1990s. Sailing on large balsa rafts that he crafted from ancient designs, Haslett first attempts to reach Hawaii, only to find himself marooned in Panama. In another expedition, Haslett heads for western Mexico and winds up wrecked in Costa Rica. Ostensibly, this modern-day Heyerdahl is attempting to follow trade routes used by pre-Columbian balsa-raft sailors; however, Haslett makes it quite clear that he is really after adventures. There is certainly no shortage of those, including hurricanes, shark attacks, tropical diseases, a U.S. warship, psychotic crewmen and ravenous sea worms that devour Haslett's ship under his feet. Haslett is at his best describing his struggles and the superhuman endurance necessary to mount expeditions of this type. While readers are given little in the way of history, anthropology or psychological insight, the lack is barely felt. Haslett's two most important characters are the sea and the raft, and they come alive on almost every page. In an age when even Mt. Everest and the South Pole have been domesticated, Haslett offers all the romance of an old-fashioned sea tale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Haslett's prose vibrates with energy....This is a loud, insistently physical read, stuffed with grim battles against and healthy respect for fundamental forces."
"Review" by , "A triumph of human curiousity and preserverance. John Haslett has brilliantly combined the expeditionary toughness of Ernest Shackelton and the cutting prose of Ernest Hemingway to fashion an instant classic of adventure."
"Synopsis" by ,
In 1995, John Haslett went to a tiny fishing village in Ecuador to begin building a thirty-thousand-pound raft made entirely of balsa wood, bamboo, and manila rope. Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl's famed Kon-Tiki voyage, Haslett intended to sail five thousand nautical miles across the open sea to Hawaii. What transpired, however, was anything but a recreation of Heyerdahl's famous voyage.
Over the next five years, Haslett and his crews journeyed through a surreal odyssey of madness, mutiny, obsession, and survival. They lived aboard primitive rafts for months at a time, were marooned in alien worlds, saw one vessel sunk, another abandoned, and another wrecked. Ultimately, Haslett and his colleagues would emerge with new discoveries about a lost culture.
Voyage of the Manteno is an ancient sea tale, lived by modern men. It is a compelling adventure brought to life by a cast of characters who vary from the ordinary, to the heroic, to an Ahab-like crewman who teetered on the brink of insanity. A tale of hope, survival, and discovery, Voyage of the Manteno is the true story of two harrowing expeditions in the late 1990s.
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