Today is publication day for "Alone together: Sailing Solo to Hawaii
and Beyond," 286 pages, East Wind
Press, 2016. I was 48 days alone at sea on an Ericson
32-3, and learned more than I expected.
Here's a Q&A I did for the Amazon Author Page:
In 15 years at The Washington
Post Christian Williams served as arts editor of the Style Section, feature writer and reporter on the investigative unit. In 1987 he moved to Los Angeles to write and produce television programs from "Hill Street Blues" to "Six Feet Under." He is the author of "Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way," a biography of Ted Turner (Times Books
, 1981) and "Alone Together: Sailing Solo to Hawaii
and Beyond" (East Wind
Press, 2016). Williams has four children
and lives in Pacific Palisades, CA, with his spouse, Tracy Olmstead Williams.
What prompted you to write "Alone Together: Sailing Solo to Hawaii and Beyond"?
CW: People had a lot of questions about being alone that long. I think they expected me to go nuts. My video on YouTube sort of stirred the pot.
Did you 'go nuts'?
CW: Let's say the experience wasn't what I expected at all. There are always voices
with you. It's never alone inside your head
You have said you worried more about that than 6,000 miles across the Pacific and back.
CW: Singlehanded sailing is challenging, and nobody likes gales and hurricanes. But that you can prepare for. All the famous singlehanders wrote books
, Slocum and Chichester and the rest. They were heroes to me. But you never know how you'll do out there.
How did you prepare for being alone?
CW: I read up on astronauts and medical
studies and people like Reinhold Messner, who climbed Everest alone. I was expecting sensory deprivation, I think. But it wasn't like that.
What was it like?
CW: I was a failure at being alone. It just never happened.
CW: I can't. It's the question of who are we. Are we somebody distinct, or are we a part of everybody? That question never comes up ashore, among people. We're overconnected nowadays.
You mean, turn off the cell phone
CW: We're just never alone. Not from when we're born till we die. We become feedback.
So is this book about a mystical experience?
CW: Not at all. Sailing a boat alone is a 24-hour job, you have to eat and try to sleep, you have the concerns of sinking and storms, there's plenty to worry about. It's less mystical than watching TV, where every commercial
makes you wonder why you're wasting your life sitting there.
Did you come back changed?
CW: I think being alone for a while helps you understand where you fit in. Everybody wants to know the answer to that.