As I got up to use the head, the front of the gale hit us. We took the first blow like a punch-drunk boxer. The sheer force of a massive wave breaking over our bow, accompanied by the now fifty-knot winds, pushed the Frisky II backward. It knocked Ethan loose from his death grip on the galley table and left him sprawled on the floor. The little ones screamed and clung to Mom. Monica shouted at Daddy, “This is a nightmare! What are you doing, Father?” I was plenty concerned about Daddy’s state of mind. I knew he was a competent and experienced sailor when he had his wits about him, but that wasn’t the case this afternoon.

Seconds later, an even bigger wave hit us broadside and took out the galley window, flooding the cabin with seawater, shorting out the radio, and nearly rolling us over. Panic swept the cabin. We were all soaking wet and scared silly. The icy bath flooded the cabin, soaking Doc, snapping him out of his drunken stupor. As the little ones screamed hysterically, Mom shifted into survival mode. She yelled at Father to turn away from the storm and get us out of there. Then she hugged the little ones and kissed their brows. Mom told the rest of us to sit on the floor, hang on to something, and pray.

When I realized that the marine radio was dead, I thought, Oh my God. We have just lost our only means of calling for help. From this moment on, nobody, I mean nobody, will know we are out in these forbidden waters. If we go down, there will be no one here to rescue us or even know we went down. If we did drown, I hoped that everything would just quickly go black, and we wouldn’t suffer. I felt a little better when Daddy gunned the engines, turned sharply away from the oncoming seas and ordered the family into life jackets.

He instructed me to check all the bilge pumps to ensure they were working. I immediately checked them all. I cleared the debris clogging the engine-room pump and was about to re-enter the cabin when a deafening roar came out of nowhere, drowning out the wind. When I spun around to see what it was, a towering twenty-five-foot wall of green water confronted me. It was fifty yards off our stern, and coming at us fast and loud, like an out-of-control freight train. My mouth dropped open, and my eyes got as big as saucers. I had never seen a wave that menacing. I dove into the cabin and screamed, “Look out, take cover!” I dropped to the deck and waited for the monster wave to smash us to smithereens.


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