We’re Not afraid to Die—If We Can All Be Together Summary
by Gordon Cook and Alan East
The story, ‘We’re Not afraid to Die-if We Can All Be Together’ is a story of extreme courage and skill exhibited by Gordon Cook, his family and crewmen in a war with water and waves for survival. In July 197 6, the narrator, his wife Mary, son Jonathan and daughter Suzanne set sail from Plymouth, England to duplicate the round-the world voyage made 200 years earlier by Captain James Cook. They took the voyage in their professionally built ship, the Wavewalker, accompanied by two experienced sailors – Larry Vigil, an American and Herb Seigler, a Swiss, to tackle one of the world’s roughest seas – the Southern Indian Ocean.
The first part of the journey, that is, about 105,000 kilometres up to Cape Town passed off very, pleasantly. On the second day out of Cape Town, -they began to encounter strong gales. Gales did not worry the narrator. But the size of the waves was alarming – up to 15 metres, as high as the main mast. On 25th December, the writer’s ship was in the southern Indian Ocean, 3500 kilometres to the east of Cape Town. The family celebrated their new year on board the ship.
At dawn on January 2, the waves were gigantic. Unfriendly weather and gigantic waves compelled the sailors to slow their speed, drop storm jib and take other precautions. The danger was so obvious that the sailors completed life-raft drill, attached lifelines and life jackets.
Suddenly at 6 pm, a tremendous explosion shook the Wavewalker and the author was thrown overboard. The ship was about to capsize when another gigantic wave hit it tossing it upright once again. The author was thrown back onto the deck, his head and ribs smashing against the walls. In spite of his injuries, the narrator took charge of the situation. Somehow he found the wheel, lined up the stem for the next wave and hung on till Mary appeared and took charge of the wheel. Larry and Herb started pumping out water like madmen. The whole starboard side bulged inwards. The narrator managed to cover canvas across the gaps to prevent water from entering the ship. Then came more problems. Their hand pumps stopped working and electric pumps short-circuited. Fortunately, the narrator found a spare electric pump under the chartroom that worked. The entire night was spent in pumping, steering, repairing and sending radio signals. The narrator checked charts and calculated that He Amsterdam, a French scientific base was their only hope.
Sue and Jon were injured but they said that they were not afraid to die if they could all be together. Sue’s head was swollen and she had a deep injury. The narrator became more determined seeing his children’s courage. Finally, they reached lie Amsterdam, a volcanic island where they were welcomed by 28 inhabitants. Thus, the collective strength and never failing optimism of the sailors made it possible for them to come out of the jaws of death. Though Jonathan and Suzanne did not do anything to save Wavewalker but their courage, forbearance, faith and optimism gave extra strength and persistence to the narrator and his team. The bravery of the strong-willed children is noteworthy in the story.