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We’re Not Afraid to Die... If We Can All be Together

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Class 10 Class 12

Whom did the narrator and his family want to duplicate and why?

The narrator loved adventures. He had an ambitious plan. He wanted to duplicate the round-the-world voyage made 200 years earlier by Captain James Cook. Captain Cook discovered Australia. So the narrator set sail from Plymouth in England in July 1976 on 1,05,000 kilometre journey. His wife and two children also accompanied him.

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Describe in brief how the voyage began in July 1976 from Plymouth, England and ended at a small island lle Amsterdam in the South Indian Ocean.

The narrator wanted ‘to duplicate’ the round-the-world voyage made 200 years earlier by Captain James Cook. For the past 16 years they had been making preparations. They got a boat professionally built for this purpose. It was a 23 metre, 30 tonne wooden-hulled boat. It was tested for months in the roughest weather. The first leg of their 1,05,000 kilometre journey passed pleasantly. They sailed down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town. Before heading east, they employed two crewmen—American Larry Vigil and Swiss Herb Seigler.

Their troubles started on the second day out of Cape Town. They encountered strong gales. Waves rose as high as their main mast. On January 2, the waves were alarming. The boat was slowed down. The storm jib was dropped. Heavy ropes were looped across the stern. Lifelines were attached, oilskins and life jackets were donned. Wavewalker was near capsizing. Sue got a big bump over her eyes. The narrator was tossed over the deck. His left ribs cracked and teeth were broken. By morning on January 3, Larry and Herb brought the water level sufficiently under control.

On January 4, they received some respite. On January 5, the respite proved to be short lived. The situation was again quite grim. Jon asked if they were going to die. They were not afraid of dying if they could all die together. But by the morning of 6 January, Wavewalker rode out (of) the storm. Jon gave the great news. lle Amsterdam was just in front of them. The next day all 28 inhabitants cheered and helped them ashore.

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Describe the behaviour of the narrator and his family, particularly of his children Jon and Sue, during the voyage.

The narrator, his wife and children set sail from Plymouth, England with great hope, excitement and determination. The narrator was a 37- year old businessman. He had dreamt of duplicating the round-the-world voyage made 200 years ago by Captain James Cook. He had worked hard in sharpening his seafaring skills in British waters. The first leg of their journey passed pleasantly. Their troubles started when they moved out of Cape Town. But even hostile weather couldn’t dampen their spirits. Though the weather changed for the worse on the New Year’s Day, they all participated in its celebrations.

The captain (the narrator himself) really showed his heroic qualities. He was aware of being thrown overboard and sinking below the waves. He didn’t panic. His left ribs cracked and his mouth was filled with blood and broken teeth. Somehow, he found the wheel and hung on. Even the behaviour of the crewmen Larry and Herb was quite praiseworthy. They continued pumping water out like madmen. The narrator’s wife Mary didn’t panic either. She only cried “We’re sinking”.

Jonathan and Sue proved that they were the children of brave and adventurous parents. Jon declared that they were “not afraid of dying if they could all die together.” The children were really excited when they sighted the island lle Amsterdam. Now the narrator was not an ordinary father but “the best daddy in the whole world—and the best captain.”


Imagine yourself Jonathan, the son of the narrator. Write a letter to your friend Matthew describing him how you ianded safely at lle Amsterdam after the stormy waves and gales had crippled your boat.

12 Picadally Circus


20 March, 2008

Dear Matthew

Sea attracts not only me but all the members of our family. My father had a long cherished dream of ‘duplicating’ the voyage undertaken by Captain James Cook about 200 years ago. A special boat Wavewalker was made for this mission. We set sail from Plymouth in England. Everything went on well till we reached Cape Town. Troubles started on the second day when we left Cape Town. Gigantic waves and gales lashed Wavewalker. The waves left nothing but ruin. The sails were lying flat. My father, the captain of the ship, tried to save it. He took urgent steps. He slowed down the speed and tied heavy ropes round the stern. Life-jackets and oilskins were donned. A torrent of green and white water broke over the boat. Wavewalker was near capsizing.

My daddy proved to be the best daddy in the whole world and also the best captain. His efforts bore fruit. By the morning of January 7, the boat was out of the storm. I was not afraid of dying if we all died together. But they say all is well that ends well. And it ended well for us. lie Amsterdam was sighted. We anchored off the shore that night. The next morning, all 28 inhabitants came to cheer us and help us ashore.

Yours sincerely




Describe the steps taken by the captain and the crewmen to protect the boat from the storm and the gigantic waves. Were they successful?

Just on the second day when they left Cape Town, Wavewalker began to face all kinds of troubles. Strong gales lashed the boat for the next few weeks. The size of the waves was really alarming. They went up as high as the main mast. The captain took immediate steps to save the boat. The boat was slowed down. The storm jib was dropped. Heavy mooring ropes were lashed across the stern. Lifelines were attached. Oilskins and life-jackets were donned. A tremendous explosion shook the deck. A torrent of green and white water broke over the ship. Wavewalker was near capsizing. Her masts had fallen flat. Waves tossed him around the deck like a rag doll. Larry and Herb continued pumping water out like madmen. If they couldn’t make some repairs, they would surely sink. Waterproof covers across the open holes were covered. Most of the water was now being thrown over the sides.

All the urgent steps were taken. Fortunately, they proved quite effective. By the morning of January 6, the wind eased. Wavewalker rode out storm. But still it couldn’t hold for long to reach Australia. Hence, the search for islands began. In the end, Wavewalker had a cheerful landing at lle Amsterdam.