Manning Up In Alaska

by Dick Drechsler

“Wake up, wake up!” Dick yelled to his sleeping wife, as he tore up the floorboards to expose the bilge in their 47-foot sailboat. Much to his shock, he discovered two feet of water rapidly rising, threatening to sink them and their boat. With thoughts of calling Mayday and abandoning ship flashing through his mind, he wonders what a 62-year-old cancer survivor is doing here, facing a life and death emergency.

In this true story, meet Dick Drechsler – a fun-loving, hard-working executive – who finds his fast-paced lifestyle abruptly derailed by cancer. When he sees that he’ll be anchored for life to a feeding tube, at first he’s discouraged. Despite some very long odds, he refuses to give up until he regains limited use of his throat. Not willing to postpone his lifelong dream to cruise throughout the world aboard his sailboat, he sets out on a voyage of adventure and discovery.

Every once in a while a book comes along that you just can’t put down. Occasionally, you’ll come across one that also inspires you. Dick takes us through the wild romp that is his life, up until the moment he slams into his own mortality.

Regardless of whether we’re sailors or landlubbers, he holds our wide-eyed attention with this action-packed tale, as we sail with him, accompanied only by his wife, Sharon, up the coast from Mexico to Alaska aboard the couple’s 47-foot sailboat, aptly named Last Resort.

On the way, he discovers his calling and establishes the Sail Through Cancer Foundation to help other cancer survivors escape the rigors of the disease, if only for a few hours at a time, aboard a volunteered yacht.

If you’re like us, you’ll find yourself gritting your teeth together with Dick, when a malfunction creates a flood resulting in a life-and-death struggle at sea. You’ll have a chuckle toward the end of the book when he reveals how he came up with the book’s name, Manning Up. Like us, you’ll come to marvel at the magnificence of Alaska’s untapped wildness, recognize your own wanderlust in its waterways and dream of casting off to follow your own calling. In the end, Dick reminds us with a wink and a grin, "Life is a game and the art is how well you play it."

About the Sail Through Cancer Foundation: The Sail Through Cancer Foundation (, is a 501(c )(3) tax exempt organization whose mission is to encourage boat owners to form an “Armada of Hope” by volunteering to treat cancer sufferers, particularly children, their families and loved ones to a day sail. Dick found that escaping the rigors of the disease through a restorative day spent on the water provides healing for the soul and spirit and encourages hope.


Feature in BoatUS Magazine: There is a wonderful article about Dick and Sharon Drechsler and their "Manning Up" voyage in the March / April 2010 issue of BoatUS Magazine. Sharon Drechsler's article "Voyage of Last Resort" can be seen (here).

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ISBN: 978-0-9801512-1-3

Paperback, 272 pages