King of the Coral Sea: The Forgotten Odyssey of Michael Formenko | Shorewords!

June 22, 2023

From athlete to renegade: Michael's tale

Join Shorewords host, Lesley Ewing, in conversation with Robert DeMayo, explorer, traveler and writer.  In the 1950’s, newspapers in Australia regularly reported about Michael Formenko, first as an amazing athlete and later as a renegade who paddled a log canoe along the Australian coast to Dutch New Guinea. Now, some 60 year later, Robert uses the lens of the Odyssey to tell the almost forgotten story Michael’s travails as he received hospitality from strangers (known to Ulysses as xenia), struggles against storms, escapes crocodiles, and flees the police.  

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Lesley Ewing

Hello. I’m Lesley Ewing, host of Shorewords!. This podcast combines two of my favorite things – the ocean and books. I learned to swim before I could walk and looked forward each summer to my family’s vacation at Ocean City, Maryland. As a student I was interested in science and engineering and became an environmental engineer before learning that there was something called coastal engineering. Both my 1 st and 2 nd mid-life crises resulted in me going back to school – first for a Masters of Engineering at UC Berkeley and later for a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. The first crisis also moved me from DC to the SF Bay. The second crisis reminded me how much I liked to read. Getting a Ph.D. while working a 40+-hour/week job meant that my only reading was work reports, text books and technical articles. They were all important and interesting books, but as soon as school ended, I replaced my academic text books with broader literature and realized that the coast was often a character in the fiction and non-fiction that I read. I am still fascinated by every visit to the ocean and remain in awe of what others write about the coast.