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Publisher's Summary

What happens when a man of today's overconnected world sets off alone across the Pacific at the age of 71? Christian Williams, a veteran sailor and writer, planned a 6,000-mile voyage as a test of his own seamanship and endurance, and to fulfill a lifelong goal. But he found his focus quickly turning from the surrounding sea to all of us. Is anyone the same person when no one else is there? Do we dare to find out? In a new world of soaring seabirds, violent storms, and majestic emptiness, Williams discovered answers to questions he had never asked about who we are, why we sail, and the universal fear of being alone.

Alone Together is a complete technical course in offshore sailing technique and yacht preparation, and a philosophical inquiry into what it takes to be truly alive in the 21st century.

©2016 Christian Williams (P)2016 Christian Williams

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best for the arm chair adventurer, or a sailor or philosopher

This is a great book, especially this audio version. I had tried to read the paper back version and had a hard time following the author. Unlike any book I have ever read or listen to before the author navigates his story, his stories through confusing seas. The book is really three stories in one. One part, a story of being seduced by the sails, boats, wind and like minded sailors. Another part about what it takes to sail across a ocean. The daily chores, navigation, sail changes and mid ocean repairs. And the third part of searching the soul for answers to questions that only come to people who spend weeks....truly alone.

What I found hard to read was memorizing to listen to. I want to follow is wake, I want to sail to distance shores myself. I crave the challenge that started in me as a boy from the national geographic story following the DOVE around the world. I too want to let time alone tease out questions for deep inside me.

Listening to the author read his own book was delightful, insightful and made smile at the world. The book was so memorizing that I pulled over in a highway road side to listen to the last half hour.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Gutsy Adventure

The author displays a courage and spirit that must be admired. He is a talented writer and - after a somewhat monotonous beginning - the adventure will grab you and not let you go. It is a masterful teaching tool, that schools you effortlessly in the art of sailing, and the author does so like your favorite professor from college. Well worth the outlay and time commitment. As an aside, I had hoped he would have decided to continue his solo journey, taking us with him through the South Pacific.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent expansion of the YouTube video.

Ever watch a movie and think, "I want more!", then track down the book and find it full of rich details that bring additional depth and texture to the story?

Well, that is exactly what happens in "Alone Together". I watched Christian Williams' video twice, I loved it so. I may just listen to the book again as well. Wonder what type of auto-helm equipment he used? He not only tells you, he tells the surprising story of the actual purchase. The book is full of wonderful stories and the details never become tedious.

I did rate the performance down a bit. But only because I have heard the author narrate his videos so masterfully. For whatever reason, I found his narration a bit slow and stilted at times. As much as I enjoy the tones of Mr. Williams' voice, as happy as I was to find he narrated his own book, I was slightly disappointed by those two small deficiencies. Perhaps I'm over-sensitive, having suffered through too many Scott Brick narrations to tolerate a performance even slightly resembling the almost unlistenable experience I endured with the "Coyote" sci-fi series.

If you enjoy sailing, have ever considered cruising or single-handing or solo sailing to Hawaii, this book is for you. Mr Williams is a great story teller!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Much more than just a sailing story

Sailing enthusiasts will enjoy this book, but so will all those interested in a reflective journey into the nature of self, and the importance of the interrelation between ourselves and the many people whose influence in our lives makes us who and what we are. This book will all those who are learning to come to terms with middle or old age. It reveals both the limitations and the depth of personality wisdom and equilibrium that come with the advancing of the years and a life well lived.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An excellent listen

It felt like I was right there with him. Even the most trivial task on the boat was an enjoyable listen. He has a way with words that make his experience seem wholesome and relatable. I highly recommend this audiobook for anyone who enjoys sailing and finding oneself in solitude.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Zen and the Art of Long Distance Sailing

Any additional comments?

If you've read Robert Pirsig's 1974 classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, you'll know that the book has, by the author's own admission, little to do with zen or art or even motorcycle maintenance. In similar fashion, to take Alone Together at face value, as a how-to guide for sailing to Hawaii, is to miss the point entirely. This is just as much a book of personal philosophy, history, and psychology as it is about sailboat maintenance, navigation, and sail trim, though there's plenty of all that too.
It is deeply introspective and while Mr. Williams never lets facts get in the way of a good story, the author is also willing to expose his innermost thoughts, vulnerabilities, and self-doubts to the listener, not always because they contribute to the story arc, but sometimes simply because they are genuine.

I found the author's speech to be incredibly natural and relaxed; how people actually talk. There is a moment when we reflexively reject what we don't expect, apart from any qualitative analysis. Upon finding a nice Cabernet in our Kool-Aid cup, we're likely to spit it out no matter how objectively good it is. Likewise, the first few minutes of listening had me thinking, "this isn't what audiobooks are supposed to sound like," as the narrator plodded along, bumping over sentences unevenly, lurching about more wagon train than cruising sailboat. After a while though it became oddly soothing and I realized it wasn't that Mr. Williams was speaking too slowly, it's that I was listening too fast. You get the feeling while listening that the author isn't in any particular hurry to get anywhere, and that's exactly the point. Modern sailors don't cross the ocean to get to the other side, but rather to experience all the little moments of the crossing, to be here now, and here now, and here now.

After listening to a chapter or three, I feel like I've spent a little time alone together with the author. That seems to have been his intention and I believe he has succeeded.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Thank you for taking me along!

I don't generally write reviews but I feel compelled to compliment Christian Williams on both his voyage and his book. As a retired woman new to sailing, I enjoyed it immensely, but I believe I would have liked it even if I didn't sail. He made me feel as though I was actually along for the adventure, and I think that's a great accomplishment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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For Sailors or Non-Sailors

If you have ever wondered what it is like to sail across the pacific, this is a book for you. Christian is a experienced yachtsman and writer. This descriptive adventure will leave you wanting more. The author who is also the narrator is humorous, interesting and the time will fly by while listening to this real life adventure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent

I really enjoyed listening to this book as read by the author. It will probably get a 2nd listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Thom
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 01-11-17

Super! Wonderful! Enriching! Delightful!

I've read and listened to dozens of books about sailing and sailing journeys, and, by far, this is the best ever! I don't know that I learned much new about sailing or maintenance techniques because I've read/experienced much of that before. But what this book taught me was an attitude that I hope to emulate and work to maintain. The calm, deliberate and quiet confidence mixed with humility and humour may be the most important lesson ever.

However, I didn't really read it to learn, I read it to enjoy, and enjoy it I did. I found myself laughing aloud at times and experiencing the quiet, reverence and awe that must come to all singlehanders at times. I feel like I was actually there, through the good and the not so good. I feel enriched and deeply satisfied by this book. I just finished it and I know that I won't want to start another for a few days - preferring to let this one linger and echoes in my thoughts a while longer. Thanks for a fantastic trip, Christian. I'd sail with you again any time!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • rhys walters
  • 03-01-17

Thank you Christian

Thanks for sharing your story Christian. i love you youtube videos. keep them coming.

the book itself is a nice listen. i really enjoyed it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike Elmer
  • 03-09-18

excellent....

After watching u-tube videos I felt drawn to purchase the book, excellent work, will recommend.

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  • Thomas Schaefer
  • 01-11-18

Great

Dear Christian, thank you for taking me along on this trip, and for making it such an entertaining one. I was in good hands and I am glad you shared so much of your experience while underway - I hope you did not not mind that I said so little preferring to listen to that great voice. I would be thrilled to get another invitation should you set out again to distant shores.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-05-18

Decent book.

Some gems of advise and thought provoking at times. Overall a very good book enjoyed it in the end after initially thinking I wouldn't as much of it is written in a funny style. Will read/listen again if I ever go on a long solo voyage!

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  • AJK
  • 11-17-17

must read for solo sailing and great laughs!

Is it the story itself? The narrator (who is also the author)? the hilarius retelling of many moments on board?

I would say all of them... They all contribute for this to be ine of the best listens on audible about sailing, life and of course: spaghetti!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nibbler
  • 09-11-17

If you like the sea, sailing or adventures...

This book is about Christian's solo sail to Hawaii, it's planning and execution. If you like the sea, sailing books or adventures you'll probably enjoy this.

There's no plot, there's not really any tension but in the end I found it quite compelling.

I expected more descriptions of the sea, instead we are given expansive and detailed descriptions of the mechanics of the yacht and it's preparation. I quite enjoyed these, although occasionally his voice (and I mean narrative voice) seemed a bit whiney - many of us would give our eye-teeth to have the chance to do a trip like this, so when he's moaning about an inconsequential leak he can't find or some other small problematic detail with the boat it does get a bit tiresome. There are few passages where Christian seems to be really content, perhaps this is a reflection on the inner 'us' we take with us wherever we travel and whoever we are with.

I expected more philosophy. 'Alone together' is the paradox at the heart of the Northumbria Community and I was expecting some deep reflections on the state of aloneness which he experienced. There is a bit of this, but actually the 'alone together' is a device in which the author keeps talking to you as though you were on the boat with him. Truly I found this immensely annoying and distracting and his assumptions about what I may or may not want to do patronising. This is the principle reason for dropping two stars. However, having paid my money I pressed on and like the leaks it seemed to disappear as the book went on and although the philosophy was not explicit, there is a wonderful connection with the sea and his life on it which does have impact.

Do I recommend it? Yes, of course: four stars is a hearty recommendation.

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  • Shane Geard
  • 12-15-16

A gem of a tale and well told!

I found that I couldn't stop listening to this book... I loved the thoughts, wisdom and honesty that only a fine man of deep experience could tell. Absolutely lapped up the technical explanations too, and the processes that were clearly laid out with uncompromising self critique and humour.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-18

Christian's a master storyteller and yachtsman

I could not put this down the second I began. Christian's skillset as a writer has not filled at all. Working at the Washington Post now retired, his storytelling is still as sharp as ever. His wit, humor, logical procedures in problem solving and avoidance of disasters on board is captivating and engaging so much so that you as a reader feel the weight of the entire 1984 Ericson 30ft yacht on your shoulders. For someone who has yet to experience the sheer adventure of sailing at all, I was glad to be taken on board and travel with Chrisitian. Thank you and I cannot wait to read your second novel, 'The Philosophy of Sailing'.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-27-18

Interlectually stimulating and entertaining

Narrator being author also was excellent. Christian had lived through the experience so it brought authenticity to the story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-20-18

Sailing Solo - Without getting wet

Christian Williams has created an account of his solo voyage to Hawaii from Mainland USA, and back in such a way that is both educational and insightful. Christian paints clear pictures with words with such clarity that with a little focus, you can visualize yourself being on the sailboat, living the daily routines and mindset of a solo sailor.
I'm inspired to get out their again.