LOST AT SEA
“I didn’t see the size of the wave that capsized us, because I was below. But I know Richard saw it, because he screamed. It must have been just a monster.” — Tami Oldham Ashcraft
Aboard a 44-foot sailboat in 1983 en route to San Diego from Tahiti, Tami Oldham Ashcraft and her boyfriend, Richard Sharp, were battered by a category four hurricane on day 19 of what was supposed to be a 30-day journey. Waves as high as 50 feet and winds as strong as 140 knots (more than 160 miles per hour) finally capsized the boat; Tami was knocked out below deck; when she regained consciousness the boat had righted itself, but Richard was nowhere to be found.
Adrift at sea, grieving for her dead boyfriend and with no help in sight, Tami was almost ready to accept a dreary fate — but she didn’t. She rationed food, cobbled together a mast and sail, and used celestial navigation to plot a course for Hawaii, 1,500 miles away. It took 41 days for her to complete the trek — and man, was it boring. She likened the journey to “watching grass grow,” admitting if she didn’t commit to remaining focused and staying the course until she miraculously reached Hilo Harbor, the end of her story would have been drastically different.