By Tim Severin
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Abandon ship,' he known as despondently, shouting to make himself heard above the grumbling of the waves which tumbled throughout us. while the gale had first hit us, our vessel's major smooth - a ten-oared rowing boat — have been towing astern on a heavy cable, but if the cog struck the sands, the lighter boat have been carried forward through the waves, the cable had parted, and our delicate have been swept away. the remainder boat used to be a square-ended skiff, clumsy and heavy, compatible just for sheltered waters. The group took axes and hacked away the low bulwarks to open a niche by which they driven her into the seas. at the same time the skiff slid overboard and hit the water, the breaking crest of a wave rose up and part crammed her. The sailors shoved and jostled as they started to climb over the rail. The skipper held again; most likely he couldn't endure to desert his send. He observed me hesitating on the spot I had selected. i used to be clinging to a shroud on the maximum element at the vessel in order that i didn't tumble down the sloping deck. He should have proposal that i used to be too nervous to maneuver, and used to be putting there, frozen with in terror. 'Come on, father,' he shouted, beckoning me. 'The boat is your in basic terms wish. ' I took a re-examination on the squabbling boat team and doubted what he acknowledged. collecting up the hem of my brown priest's dress, I tucked the cloth into the rope belt round my waist, waited for the following wave to crest, and the final the skipper observed of me used to be my flailing palms and bare legs as I introduced myself out into the air and flung myself into the ocean. The water used to be strangely hot. I felt myself plunging down, then rolled and became via the waves. I gasped for air and gulped down seawater, gritty to the flavor. I spat out a mouthful as I got here to the skin, seemed round to find the coastline, and started to swim in the direction of it. Waves broke over my head back and thrust me downward in order that i used to be swimming underwater. I struggled to maintain my path. one other wave tumbled me head over heels, and that i misplaced my bearings. As I got here again to the skin, I squeezed my eyelids jointly to transparent my imaginative and prescient, and my eyes stung with the salt. once again I regarded round, attempting to realign myself with the shore, and stuck a glimpse of the ship's small boat and its determined team. 4 of the sailors have been rowing raggedly, whereas the others bailed frantically, yet their craft used to be dangerously low within the water. whilst I watched, a breaking wave lifted up the skiff, held the little boat there for a second, after which casually overturned it, stern over bow, and flung the staff into the water. such a lot of them, i used to be certain, didn't understand how to swim. Grimly I battled on, remembering my days in Iceland whilst I had taken half within the water video games while the younger males competed at wrestling as they swam, the winner trying to carry his opponent underwater till he gasped for mercy. I recalled the best way to carry my breath, and so I stored my nerve because the waves crashed over me, attempting to smother me, but in addition washing me toward the shore. i used to be an outdated guy, I advised myself, and that i may still dole out my final last power like a miser.