The reverberation of the boat as it hit shocked me out of sleep. Above me I could hear the panicked voices of Jason and Rich shouting instructions to each other. Snatching the orange vest from its resting place on the floor by my bunk, I rushed to the central salon, fastening the buckles with trembling fingers. The ruffled heads of my precious twins were peering out from their own small cabin in terror.
My fear made me snap at them.
-Get your life jackets on. Now-
Ben, the eldest by ten minutes and thirty-five seconds, opened his mouth and in less than a second his cries were drowning out the sounds of rushing water and extreme movements up on deck. His sister, always his greatest supporter, joined him and I struggled to make myself heard.
-Don’t worry. Come on. It’s just a little bump. We’ll be fine. Come on. Daddy is waiting. We’ve got to hurry.-
With each word my voice became more shrill. My hands weren’t working properly. Little sleeves were not fitting arms. Buckles would not fasten. There were sounds on deck which I had never thought to hear. One of the men was moving the lifeboat.
The panic in his voice could not be ignored. I snatched the two of them by one hand each and pushed them up the gangway. Jason’s strong grip held tight as he pulled each up into the small cockpit. Huddled there grasping each other, my children and I watched as the men battled with the small rubber package which contained our only hope of escape. It had all seemed so easy in the chandlers as we purchased our items with a carelessness which I now knew could cost our lives. Jason was frightened and beginning to lose his control. The clips would not release. I could not keep eye contact with him. It frightened me too much. The bodies of my little ones were now part of my own legs, so tightly wrapped they were.
When it released, tears started and I struggled to see properly as I made the perilous descent. I was first. My children came next and as soon as they made contact with the raft I pushed each well down onto floor, the fear of losing them at this stage overtaking my normally gentle mothering traits. Jason was the last to join our little rescue craft, designed for four, now home to five.
Peace descended as we drifted away from our lovingly created water based home. There was not much left to see and the disbelieving dismay began to take over. How long would we drift here in the middle of an ocean so vast that we had not seen another boat for six days?