This project is based on a true story. In the summer of 2000, my husband and I were on a 115-foot boat with 13 other passengers touring the Galapagos Islands. In the middle of the night, as the boat sailed between islands, it hit a rock, causing passengers and crew to end up in the Pacific Ocean. One man died. What follows is a story of real survival, individual acts of heroism and musings on the concept of interdependence. Here is an excerpt of that event. This piece deals with the struggle just to live, the discovery of core strengths, an introduction into that elite club of those who have had near death experiences and an examination of the philosophical questions that arise from surviving.
“The boat keeps lurching from side to side, throwing us into each other and causing people to go slide across the deck. Hanging on to whatever I can with one hand, I find my wetsuit, undo my life jacket suddenly terrified that I won’t be able to get it on again, and clamber, heart pounding, into rubber still clammy from the day’s swim. I stuff in pajama bottoms and my over size T-shirt - “Dance or Die!” it says. My focus is completely on the task at hand, the level of surrealness overwhelming. ‘This can’t be happening ’ a fleeting thought.
Suddenly a voice yells “Abandon ship!” the boat tilts away from me and people go sliding down the deck into the water as a wave breaks over the railing, just like the scene in the Titanic. Michael and I hang back, he doesn’t want to leave but the water surge scares me and I insist that we go. We let go and go sliding down the deck into the dark, cold ocean. Michael yells “I’m caught!” as he gets hung up on a stanchion, but then he is free and is in the water next to me.
‘Get away from the boat, get away from the boat!’ is the next thing we hear, and we kick like mad, trying to keep our heads above the swells, clinging to each other and looking back to see if the boat is about to go under and suck us down. We swim through diesel fuel spreading on the water and it soaks into life preservers and clothing. It is very dark, no moonlight, only some starlight. Just the sound of the ocean, a muted roar and an endless expanse of black.”