Part 8. Waiting for Sparky We were putting our faith in Sparky, the boat that, serendipitously, we had docked beside in Bermuda and that was now seven miles ahead of us and turning back into the wind. Of the two choices the Coast Guard had offered, the first (waiting 10-12 hours for a rescue boat) required us to stay afloat, of which there was no guarantee; the second required all of us to jump into the water, where a rescue swimmer who had dropped from a helicopter, would put us one by one into a sling, which would then be hoisted to the hovering craft. There was one small downside: because we were five people 140 miles from shore in bad weather, the helicopter might not be able to haul us all up before having to return to base to refuel, leaving some of us in the water.
I figured that both alphabetically and by seniority I should be first in line. But it dawned on me that the others might be devising their own metrics: Baldest? Youngest? Richest? Smartest? In fact, we drew our strength from knowing that we were in this together. David, “the unenthusiastic swimmer,” told me later that if he had to go into the water, he little doubted he wasn’t coming out.
He and Dave continued their resourceful, if increasingly Sisyphean, efforts to stabilize the rudder. By now it was late afternoon, and we knew that whatever rescue plan we devised while we waited for Sparky needed to be executed before nightfall.