True Stories: Mayday! Mayday!

Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, two men struggle to stay alive.

by Lisa Grainger From Readers Digest Canada, September 2011

On June 5, 2010, Jud had left Vancouver with John to sail along the Pacific Coast to an island near Costa Rica. Jud was an experienced sailor: He'd been in the Canadian Navy as a young man and had captained sailboats as a guide in Turkey.

John was a customer at Jud's motorcycle shop, and over the years the men had become friends. Though he was a relatively inexperienced sailor and, at 64, considerably older, John had jumped at the offer to join Jud's Pacific sailing adventure. Together they made a good team.

Now John stared at Jud, wild-eyed. "What do we do?"

Jud's nautical training kicked in. He recalled the emergency protocols that had been drilled into him three decades earlier. He snatched up the radio. "MAYDAY! MAYDAY!"

Nothing. Dead silence. Jud did a series of rapid calculations. They were just 18 kilometres from shore. Their emergency motorized Zodiac dinghy would get them to land in no time. They had emergency radio beacons with GPS that would send a distress signal with their location to the U.S. Coast Guard. They had emergency food, plenty of water and —


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