Bill Gasson's introduction to sailing was nothing other than extraordinary.
Apart from mucking around in a dinghy once, Bill became part of a small crew that would sail 7880 kilometres (4900 miles) from Yokohama to Los Angeles on a 39-foot schooner called Okeanos.
The epic 57 day journey was a long time ago, in fact right back in 1962, but Bill's memory of it is still strong, especially as he kept a day-to-day diary.
The entries, which he tapped out on a typewriter, now feature in a book called The Okeanos Trip: From Yokohama to Los Angeles.
The book was created recently and put together by Kapiti Print Media, based in Paraparaumu Beach.
Bill, from Raumati South, on the Kāpiti Coast, was working for the Reuters news agency, in Japan, when he met Austrian born Australian sailor Joe Pachernegg.
Joe had completed a trip from Papua New Guinea to Yokohama which Bill wrote an article about.
The seasoned skipper mentioned his next odyssey, to Los Angeles, and that he was a crewman short.
Bill spoke to his boss Syd Brookes, a keen yachtsman, who half-jokingly suggested Bill as the replacement.
Syd met Joe, probably to suss out the skipper and schooner, before urging Bill to join.
Bill, 29, was reluctant, because of a lack of sailing experience, but as he had three months leave owing, his work in Japan was drawing to a close, and he wanted to go to London to work fulltime with Reuters, he decided to give it a go.
"Joe made one condition when I joined the boat and that was not to write any articles about the trip, because he wrote stories for newspapers as part of his income.
"I agreed but said I would just keep a note of the trip.
"I don't think he'd object to this book, he's dead anyway."
Also on board was Joe's fiancée Benita Burge who had no sailing experience either.
But the pair were in good hands as Joe, who had operated German midget submarines during World War II, had sailed many oceans.
The Okeanos set sail, and would soon experience rough weather off the coast of Japan which Bill recalled as "shocking".
Then the ship's radio communications broke down.
"We all thought that if we were in trouble they'd never find us anyway.
"Joe climbed up the mast's rigging to hang up a metal bucket so any nearby ships could pick up a radar signal."
A more pressing issue was when the boat's toilet failed which meant having to perch on rigging under the spar.
"It was nice when it was calm and sunny, but a bit hair-raising when it was rough and you end up with the Pacific Ocean being your bidet."
Days were spent keeping the boat on course, catching fish, cooking meals, reading books, grabbing some sleep, and simply soaking up the experience.
Other times were spent getting film footage of the trip for a Japanese company.
One time Joe asked Bill to dive off the boat and swim around its side and climb on board, while he got some footage.
"I jumped off and my swimming shorts came off … the boat drifted further away…and Joe was shouting out 'hurry up'."
Sometimes the mind pulled a few tricks.
"I was sure at one time we were going to be torpedoed.
"There were twin phosphorous lights coming through the water straight at the boat.
"I didn't have time to call out so just braced myself for the impact.
"And then I looked at the other side of the boat, saw the lights again, heard a splash, and a pair of porpoise came up."
Importantly everyone got on well with Bill only sparking the ire of Joe twice.
"Once when I backed up the sail, and the second time when I made him a coffee and accidentally used bilge water."
Bill said the trip, from June 30 to August 25, was a lot of fun but had its challenges.
When they reached Los Angeles, Joe breezily told journalists "an old woman in a rocking chair could have done it".
"I didn't quite agree with that."
They were all delighted to have made it in one piece though.
"We had a beer in our hands within five minutes of arrival."
Contact was lost after the trip but years later, in 2007, a note appeared in the New Zealand Woman's Weekly, from Benita, living in Australia, seeking Bill's whereabouts.
They corresponded and reminisced about their ocean journey.
Unfortunately Joe was accidentally killed while working on his 72-foot brigantine sailing vessel called the Cannibal, in the port of Madang, Papua New Guinea.
Joe, who was buried at sea, had been discovered on the cabin floor with an electrical lead in his hand.
Copies of The Okeanos Trip: From Yokohama to Los Angeles, costing $25 each, can be purchased via email@example.com.