Part 10. Decision Time As we waited for Sparky to arrive, we knew that we had reached decision time. All efforts to stabilize the rudder had failed, and we had, with difficulty, deployed a drogue to keep Restive as steady as possible in the rough sea. It was now late afternoon. The weather wasn’t clearing, the Coast Guard wasn’t coming, and we needed to execute whatever plan we adopted before dark. Moreover, by turning back to help us, Sparky’s captain was putting his own crew at risk, and we had to be both decisive and ready when she appeared. The longer they had to wait for us, the more dangerous it would be for everybody.
We didn’t have a lot of good options. Sparky’s captain radioed that it was too dangerous to try to rescue us from the water, and the safest alternative was to try to get us from the life raft (which was attached to the stern, enclosed in an alarmingly small yellow case). As Sparky appeared out of the mist, bobbing like a toy boat in the waves, we gathered in the cockpit, where George asked us what we thought we should do. Each of the four of us said, emphatically, that the time had come to leave the boat. George listened quietly, clearly struggling with a decision that for the rest of us had become evident. Watching him, I suddenly understood how traumatic it is for a captain to abandon his ship.
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s deploy the life raft.”