Are examples of survival at sea to be cherished?


Here is another thoughtful and salutary comment about the abandoned boat Barbary Duck from Sam Brooke, and it is something to reflect on.

His point about how we often find things out about ourselves, or others, when far out on the ocean is something any long-distance sailor can probably empathise with.

‘I have been following the Barbary Duck story and, while I have no knowledge of the boat or crew involved or indeed of having to even think of abandoning ship, I am sensitive to the vastness of the oceans and the fragility of the human condition. I have also been disturbed by the underlying tone of criticism in some of the reports and messages.

‘We go to sea for a lot of different reasons and oftentimes I think we see things in ourselves that we do not recognise or did not think were a part of us. I would not believe a sailor, a mountaineer or any adventurer who has not at times found themselves in a difficult situation and been surprised that they perhaps lacked the inner strength and capability to deal with that situation.

‘Crowhurst did not go to sea thinking that his personal resources would not match those of the sea and the Golden Globe Race as I am sure the crew that abandoned Barbary Duck did not think that the Atlantic crossing they embarked on would overwhelm them.

‘Travelling at sea is the universal metaphor for travelling in life. Circumstances can sometimes conspire to get the better of you no matter how well prepared you think you are and none of us truly know what is around the corner or behind the next depression.

‘It’s easy for your readers to talk glibly of ‘stepping up into a life raft’ as if in a training exercise. Facing perceived mortal danger is not a game that is played lightly or usually with intent. Our human spirit is strengthened by witnessing the survival of others and is weakened by the lessening of those endeavours.’

The photo above was sent to me by a cruiser in Antigua and shows the state of Barbary Duck after salvage.