The sky darkened and the rain pelted harder. Several orange life rafts bobbed furiously in the stormy waves. Unless looking for our rescue, I ducked over to avoid the rain as much as possible, which didn’t help much. The wind drove us farther and farther from the cruise ship, as the violent waves dashed it to pieces. Waves beat against the life rafts, throwing water into them. I screamed when a cold wave hit my back. I think by then, everyone was soaked through. A huge wave overturned several life rafts, dumping their passengers into the Pacific. The people struggled to stay above water. Even though they wore life jackets, the violence of the waves made it hard for them. Some grabbed onto broken pieces of the ship to keep them afloat. People in the life rafts paddled toward the swimmers, using either their hands or broken pieces of the ship that they grabbed from the water. With the waves against us, it took a while to reach the people. By the time a life raft reached people, several already had drowned.
Saving people almost seemed hopeless. We just tried to reach as many people as we could. Aunt Lorelei and I reached out and each grabbed one of a woman’s hands. We pulled her in, careful not to make the life raft tip. Then, a red haired, green-eyed man and Aunt Lorelei pulled another woman in. I looked out at the water. Five people to be rescued still.
“Hurry up and paddle!” the man said.
We all paddled toward them. The man pulled another man into the raft. I stretched out my hand to the blonde woman I recognized from talking with Aunt Lorelei at the pool the day before. After pulling her up, I reached for another woman, but a wave sent her under, and she didn’t come back up. That wave also sent more water into the raft. I shivered, partly from the cold, partly from the sight of all the floating dead bodies. It didn’t look like anyone outside a life raft was alive. The waves kept capsizing the life rafts, sending their passengers into the ocean. Those still in rafts constantly struggled to stay aboard and rescue as many fallen passengers as possible. Waves poured over us, and then a huge wave turned our raft over. I paddled to the surface and took a deep breath. The man who sat near us in the raft trod water about two yards in front of me. He grabbed the raft and tried to turn it right side up. I felt the water rushing past me and knew a huge wave must be gathering behind me. I coughed and took a breath just before the wave crashed over me. I struggled to get above water, but another wave must have come, because I sank. The water stung my eyes. I ran out of breath way too quickly. I thought I’d die. I swam up as hard as I could and just in time, I reached the surface. I gulped in the wet, salty air. I shoved my hair out of my face and searched frantically for the life raft and my family. Our raft, now right-side-up, had Natalie and a few other people inside. No sign of Ginny or Aunt Lorelei. I swam the best I could toward the raft, but waves kept pushing me under, and I seemed to keep coming up farther from the raft. I constantly struggled to get above water, get the water and my hair out of my eyes, and breathe. I knew I would drown. Fighting the waves took so much energy. I knew at any moment I wouldn’t have any strength left.
“Help!” I screamed, swallowing some water. I coughed and tried to reach the raft, with no avail.
“Save your energy! We’ll come to you!” the man said. I barely heard over the wind. The life jacket didn’t help much. How much longer would it be till I died? Finally, the raft got to me and hands reached out to me. I reached and people grabbed me and pulled me in. I tried to catch my breath, relieved to no longer have to fight every second for my life. I looked at the people in the raft. The woman from the pool, another woman with black hair, the man, Natalie, and that boy sat inside.
“Has anyone seen Ginny and Aunt Lorelei?” I asked.
Natalie shook her head, worry all over her face, but just then, a scream echoed over the waves. I looked toward the direction it came from and to my relief, about the length of two semi trucks away, I made out two heads bobbing above the water, one blonde and one red.
“Hurry! We have to save them!” I shouted to the others, suddenly gaining energy at the fact that I had to save my family.
We all paddled hard. I grabbed a piece of the ship from the water beside me and used it as a paddle. I knew my aunt and sister couldn’t stay afloat much longer. When we finally got to them, the sight of them holding onto a piece of the ship relieved me. That probably saved their lives. We pulled them in. I grabbed Aunt Lorelei in a hug. Then, I reached over and hugged Ginny. I was so relieved they weren’t dead. We looked around for others, but all the bodies floating in sight were obviously dead. None of the other life rafts were occupied. The waves kept rushing at us, throwing our raft in all directions. We clung to that raft. I think everyone hoped as much as I did that we didn’t get thrown into the water again.
The storm went on for I don’t even know how long, but it calmed down a little bit and thankfully, we managed to stay in the raft. Eventually, the rain stopped pouring, and the waves became gentle ripples. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud. With the sudden calm, I fell asleep.
(I don’t own this photo.)
Sorry there weren’t many pictures. It’s not really something you take photos during, really.