Today my story isn’t that pretty. Nor happy. I do want to share it with you though.
I was supposed to go on a long sailing trip this weekend on the Ijsselmeer (biggest lake in the Netherlands). The trip turned out to be a bit shorter than planned.
We (me and 12 others) gathered Thursday evening, slept on the boat, and took off Friday morning. The weather was good, the sun was shining, there was some strong wind but nothing risky.
I was with another girl inside the boat, which was moving quite much, but suddenly the boat started to tilt really bad and as I looked up I could see water starting to show at the window level. I realized something was going terribly wrong, and as I was heading towards the exit, water started pouring from the exit, into the boat. I tried to get out but the current was too strong. I felt an enormous fear; I just knew in that moment that if I didn’t get out I would die.
I knew there was another opening close by, but I wasn’t sure how to open it. I had just checked if all the hatches were shut properly, and that one was the only one that I wasn’t quite sure of how it opened and closed. I had to think of a special I once saw on TV where they showed how to get out of a car in the water. The main thing was opening a door before pressure built up and you wouldn’t be able to open anything anymore. But my one opening was not working out for me, and the other one I didn’t know how to open. At that point my friend called me over. She had managed to open the other opening. Water was already starting to pour inside from that opening (that was normally a hatch in the roof but was now on its side touching the water level) as well. She got out. I immediately followed. This all happened in a matter of seconds.
Apparently there had been a sudden strong ongoing wind hose. When trying to unleash the sail, one of the lines turned into a knot and got the sail stuck.
The boat had capsized and some people were in the water, others on the part of the boat that was still above the water. With some help I got on the boat. People were trying to count if nobody was missing.
Somehow – call it a coincidence, luck or God’s mercy – a rescue boat that was returning to a harbor was nearby, saw it happen, and was there in no time. They helped getting us on board. Some with more trouble than others. But in the end and with a 5 double check, the head count came to 13 people and we raced off to shore.
My clothes were soaked and I started to feel really cold. Some people with dry clothes gave their clothing to people with wet clothes.
At the shore we were received by the harbor master, ambulances and police. My temperature was slightly lower than usual, but OK. Two of us suffered from a slight hypothermia and were taken to the hospital for an extra check. Everyone came out healthy though, and apart from some bruises and a minor glass cut I am fine.
Right now I am still processing everything that happened. Above all I am very happy that the end of the story was a good one, but I am very aware of the possibility of it ending in a different way.
I had my camera in my pocket and it got soaked, so at the moment I probably won’t be taking blogging pictures. Apart from that, I think I need some time to take everything in, and I will probably be blogging a bit less in the upcoming time than usual. I do plan to be back with many happy and colorful posts again soon, but for now I am just taking it one step at a time.
My biggest challenge at the moment is to give myself some space to process. I consider myself as being pretty tough, and I usually keep on going unless I am physically not able to do so any more. In a way I feel like I am not entitled to my emotions, since everything turned out well in the end. Like being shaken by this event is a bad reason for taking things slowly, since I am still physically capable of accomplishing work. There where having a fever would be a proper excuse, I feel like my recent experience is not a ‘good enough reason’. I find it really hard to acknowledge the effect the whole thing has on me, which is bigger that I expected, and to not feel ‘weak’ for experiencing the feelings I have.
I still remember the fear on my friends face. I keep replaying the same video over and over in my head of the water pouring in. It is the last thing I see before falling asleep.
Anything that doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And I think I can learn from this experience. I also think I am still in the process of doing so. I’ll just have to give it some time.
On the bright side, I had a very adventurous weekend and a great story to tell my kids one day ;)