By Matthew Craughwell, Skipper of Sara G
There is always a reverse culture shock after coming home from expedition. A week after returning from five weeks on the Atlantic Ocean and I am slowly adjusting to the pace that we all live-by: you don’t really notice how frantic it is until you live away from it for a while!
I am still finding myself reliving those hours when we really discovered what kind of team we were. After 27 days and nights at sea, we were just over 500 miles from Barbados, when without warning we capsized and spent 14 hours in a life raft before being rescued by the Taiwanese cargo vessel ‘Nord Taipei.’
It was an unexpected and hugely traumatic end to the expedition, but the way all six of us reacted confirmed that we were a truly solid team. By ‘solid team’ I mean it’s easy to work as a team when things are going well or even starting to become difficult, but it’s only when things are really going against you that you need to look around at the people you’re with and know that you can count on those looking back at you!
The skills and training we had undertaken before the expedition certainly paid off. In particular the sea survival training meant that the whole team made clear decisions. However, it also took the ability to perform and stay focused under the most stressful situation that I could imagine. I credit each and every one of the team with the ability to remain focused. Without this attitude the outcome could easily have been different.
Whilst a part of me is sad not to have completed the expedition as expected, I have to look on the brighter side of things knowing that we survived a situation that could very easily have cost us our lives. In the first moments after the capsize we were all looking at the upturned hull of ‘Sara G’ as she sank lower into the water – from that point to getting back to dry land at Gibraltar to see friends and family is a story that will stay with all of the crew forever.
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ I’m sure this experience will certainly make each of us stronger! Whilst I had hoped never to be tested to this extreme, I was certainly relieved to find that I was able to do what was needed as skipper to make sure of the best outcome.
The crew all owe a huge debt of gratitude to The Sincere Industrial shipping company and each of the 22 crew on board the Nord Taipei – your efforts to rescue us will never be forgotten and the friendship shown towards us was just amazing. Huge thanks also goes to each of the sponsors who made the Atlantic Odyssey expedition possible. Despite the unexpected outcome, you can be proud to be a part of this story. Thanks also to the quite incredible amount of public support during the expedition and rescue.
“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.” quote from ‘The Old Man and the Sea’
Note – Matt completed an interview with Talksport during the trip back on the Nord Taipei. The interview brings the capsize to life and captures Matt’s thoughts on the unexpected turn of events. The interview starts at 2.08.