The knockout story of Deborah Kiley's five days and nights on a raft in heavy seas during a storm. Aided by journalist Noonan, she spins a harrowing tale. In 1982, 24-year-old Kiley, who had already sailed the Whitbred and other famous sailboat endurance races, fell in with John Lippoth, captain of the Trashman, a heavy-handling, 58-foot yacht he was sailing from Maine to Florida. The Trashman set sail with Debbie and John; his girlfriend Meg Mooney; tall, muscular Brad Cavanaugh and his buddy Mark Adams, a Brit with pale blue malamute eyes and a stupefyingly evil tongue. Somewhere off North Carolina they hit 40-foot seas; 80-knot winds shredded the sails and the engine burned out. The description of this part of the storm is hair-raising, with the crew frantically trying to handle the wheel and the character of each member showing strong and clear. Then, while Debbie was below catching a few hours sleep, the ship went down—in two minutes. (Her account of the terrifying awakening in heaving seas gives shivers.) The five victims clung to a rubber raft and initially fought hypothermia by staying in the water, whose walloping waves were warmer than the air. Eventually, they boarded the raft, found that Meg had many deeply infected cuts and scrapes, and kept each other warm by gathering in a heap in urinous bilge (released urine gave their only heat). Sharks tried to sink the raft from beneath; John and Mark drank seawater, went mad, and cast themselves into the sea; Meg died of blood poisoning. After many ships failed to see them, a Russian freighter finally picked up Brad and Debbie. Short and adrenaline-charged, especially with those sharks.
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