When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift

Categories: Catastrophes | History

The story of a woman who drifted across the Pacific Ocean for 41 days on the wreckage of a yacht and survived against all odds became a Hollywood blockbuster. However, the reality is much worse than what was shown in the movies. Let's find out how everything really happened.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift

The story of Tami Oldham Ashcraft shocked the world in 1983. A 23-year-old girl managed to survive in a situation where there seemed to be virtually no chance of salvation. She spent 41 days on a storm-damaged yacht in the middle of the endless ocean. An ordinary trek from Tahiti to San Diego turned into a grueling struggle for life and brought the immeasurable pain of losing a loved one.

American Tami Ashcraft loved the ocean and was fond of sailing since childhood. She was also in love with British yachtsman Richard Sharpe, who often sailed across the Pacific Ocean. Mutual sympathy against the backdrop of common interests quickly grew into something more. A 23-year-old American woman and a 32-year-old British man would definitely have gotten married if not for that fateful contract.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean driftWhen reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift Tami Oldham Ashcraft and her fiancé Richard Sharp in 1983

Young people hired to ferry the brand new Hazana yacht from Tahiti to San Diego. Typical work for a yachtsman. They set sail on a 15-meter vessel on September 22, 1983. The transition was supposed to take 30 days. But the sailboat did not arrive in San Diego on time. Tami Ashcraft and Richard Sharp were considered missing in the ocean, and the yacht was considered sunk.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift

The elements interfered in the most terrible way with the plans of the young people. On October 11, a fierce hurricane erupted in the Pacific Ocean, which went down in history under the name “Raymond”. The yachtsmen tried in vain to get around the approaching storm. The ship had virtually no chance of surviving among 15-meter waves. Richard Sharp did not leave the helm, trying to keep the yacht afloat.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift

Waves crashed onto the deck one after another. The Briton prudently secured the safety belt of his life jacket to withstand the blows of the elements. He instructed Tami to check the measuring instruments in the hold. Later, the girl realized that her beloved was trying to protect her. But it was too late. Another wave crashed onto the ship, literally tearing the man out of his life jacket. The yacht could not resist and capsized. Tami received a strong blow to the head. The last thing she heard, falling into oblivion, was the desperate cry of the groom.

Tami Ashcraft woke up 27 hours after the disaster. She was in a desperate situation and completely alone. For two days she was in complete confusion. Fear, depression, severe headache were accompanied by involuntary fainting. Hunger helped me realize I was alive and made me fight.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift Still from the film “In the Power of the Elements,” based on this story

A yacht with a broken mast and torn sails lay at the stern. All on-board equipment, including the communications device, failed. The engine was silent. Timi had no way of starting it. The fragile girl had to solve many problems, each of which affected her chance of survival and salvation.

First she returned the yacht to its normal position. She managed to do this by moving the cargo in the hold and at the stern. After which she secured the sail to a piece of the mast. The homemade design allowed the ship to move at a speed of only two knots per hour. But it was better than nothing. Of the navigational instruments, only the primitive sextant turned out to be suitable. Fortunately, she knew how to use it, was able to determine the location of the ship and chart a further course.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift This is what the yacht looked like in reality after a long drift across the Pacific Ocean

The situation with supplies and fresh water was much worse. Timi had peanut butter, canned food, some beer and a cigar at his disposal. We had to build an awning to collect rainwater and dew. During the day, the canopy served as shelter from the scorching sun. Fishing slightly diversified the meager diet. By the end of the trip, Tami Ashcraft had lost 40 pounds (18 kg). Fortunately, the yacht's hull withstood the storm. The girl didn’t have to fix the holes. The hold dried out quickly and served as good shelter.

Life support issues were less of a problem. Tami's moods often varied from deep depression and grief to violent anger. In moments of despair, she screamed at the ocean, which at one moment ruined her life and took away her loved one. She suffered from hallucinations and lost consciousness. Richard's voice sounded in her head, instilling confidence, bringing her back to life.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift Pacific drift route that lasted 41 days

It was especially difficult on days 16 and 34 of the trip. Twice large ships came into view. The sailors did not notice the small boat with a broken mast. There was nothing there to signal with. In addition, there were no searches for missing ships in this area. The yacht “Hazana” has long been considered one of those that sank during a hurricane. Therefore, Tami Oldham Ashcraft had no choice but to stick to the Hawaiian Islands and use fresh water as economically as possible. Almost a month and a half later, a strange ship entered the Hawaiian port at a very slow speed. Tami Ashcraft survived, showing very unfeminine courage, strength of character and the will to live.

The consequences of the disaster lingered with Tami for a long time. The head injury suffered caused complications. The girl suffered from nightmares for a long time and could not read. She kept the engagement ring that Richard Sharp gave before the ill-fated journey. After eight long years, the girl felt ready to let go of the past and start a new life. Tami Ashcraft gave the ring to the ocean by attaching it to a rose.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift

10 years after the disaster, the heroine of the tragic story found love again, got married, and became the mother of two children. The family lives in Washington, on San Juan Island. The long treatment paid off. Tami regained her ability to read. On the advice of a psychologist, she wrote a book about her experience and felt relief.

It is noteworthy that the love for sailing has not faded. Tami received her small boat captain's license. She still travels frequently on a yacht. Only for each entry into the ocean he prepares more carefully than before.

When reality is much worse than the film: the story of an American woman who survived ocean drift The book “In the Power of the Elements” was published by the Azbuka publishing house simultaneously with the film

The book, entitled “In the Power of the Elements,” was published in 1998 and became a bestseller. Although journalism knows many disaster stories, Tami's memoirs are different. Women rarely have to fight for survival. Tami Oldham Ashcraft shocked readers with a woman's perspective on tragedy.

Recently, a film adaptation of the book was released on the big screen. The film somewhat distorts real events. According to the unspoken law of Hollywood, Richard Sharpe survived, although he suffered greatly.

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