When I read a story about someone being rescued after being declared lost at sea, I pay rapt attention to the heroics of their survival. They had treaded water for 16 hours. They clung to a small piece of wood for two days. They swam for eight hours.
I shiver. Would I have the courage to do that? None of these survivors was attributed with extraordinary skills, like that of being an Olympic swimmer. But they had faith. Would I have that kind of faith or would I give in? I worry that I’d lack the courage, and thus the faith—or is it the other way around. Faith. Courage.
Of course I’m relieved for the survivors in these stories. But I hate them for bringing up my own lack of courage. Or so it seems as I speculate about what I would do lost at sea.
I used to sail and always wondered how I’d do falling into the chilly bay waters. Friends are members of the Polar Bear Club and choose to enter that water. It ranges from 45F to maybe 65F. At the low end, hypothermia sets in in less than two hours. I don’t even swim in a normal swimming pool. Of all the odd things that have happened as I’ve gone on in life, sensitivity to cold is it. Now the idea of a normal temperature pool where other friends regularly and happily do laps is unthinkable.
And that’s a part of my reaction to the lost at sea stories. The cold. How is that possible to survive. When I occasionally join my surfer neighbors for a morning of boogie boarding, I can feel through my wetsuit the difference of September water and the temps in October.
I’d be done for. I’d be too cold. I wouldn’t have faith. I’d be terrified.
Even the idea of dying in the cold ocean waters gives me pain. If I go that way, let it be in the Bahamas.