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Why I'm grateful that I almost died


Why im grateful that I almost died. Peter Tryon English shipwreck survivor and blogger

We ran it into the common area in the middle of the catamaran to be confronted by utter carnage. We were about knee deep in water with debris floating around, even big pieces of furniture had become dislodged and were smashing around. It felt like a scene from a film. You never dream that something like this will happen to you. You never dream that you will find yourself, and the person you love most in the world, staring death in the face. Why I'm grateful that I almost died

The situation got progressively worse, the lifeboat was cut free but a large wave dragged it off before anyone had a chance to board. This was the most terrifying point for me. Looking back on it, if we had all managed to cram into the tiny lifeboat who knows how far we would have drifted before rescue or if we would have been rescued at all? Sometimes in life it feels as though your only hope is snatched out of your hands and it is only later you realise that this may have saved you from something much worse. It’s like the butterfly effect of life. Small things can make a big and unexpected difference down the line.

 Why I'm grateful that I almost died

The lights went out. As if things weren’t scary enough already! Huge waves were lashing over the deck and soaking us. We felt very small, very scared and very lost. The water level continued to rise. As the situation unfolded it felt like our lifelines were being ripped out of our hands one by one. The chances of survival are miniscule if you end up in the ocean in a situation like this. People just drift in all directions, exposed, dehydrated, exhausted. Rescue operations soon become like trying to find a few dying needles in a giant haystack. Often bodies are never even recovered.

Shipwreck survival Sanblas Why I'm grateful that I almost died

Shipwreck survival Sanblas Why I'm grateful that I almost died

When you realise you may die very soon you don’t have many options. You can panic, give in or fight for survival. We began thinking about gritty survival. What are the biggest threats? What is most important? How will we stay alive in the water? And we prayed- not quietly and privately- but out loud and as a group. Even if you don’t believe in God- what do you have to lose?

Why was prayer the turning point? Was it God? Was it coincidence? If you know me, you know what I think- but it is a good question for everyone to think through. 

Things began to take a turn for the better. Death seemed slightly less imminent. We climbed on to the top of the boat to learn that we were somehow anchored onto the reef that we had collided with. We sat on top of the boat and waited, hoping for rescue. 18 of us and the captain's 4 cats. The captain had an emergency distress beacon and he said that we would likely be rescued in a few hours. But the hours began to slip by and no one came. The sun rose and we could make out the shape of distant misty mountains about 5 miles away. We waited, stayed hydrated, sheltered from the elements, watching and hoping for rescue. But the hours kept passing and no one came. Then… after a long wait… we saw a tiny boat in the distance rowing towards us. The feeling of relief was truly overwhelming! We cheered, hugged, and laughed! Why I'm grateful that I almost died 

Shipwreck survival Sanblas

Rescue was on the way. It was a small wooden fishing boat. When they saw us they rowed round the reef until they could find a relatively safe route across the reef and then a couple of fishermen swam to our boat. They took the first 4 people back to their island and the rest of us waited. Several hours later they were able to notify the military and eventually a military boat arrived. Even at this point it was still an ordeal to swim across the thrashing reef in pairs to board the military boat.

Shipwreck survival Sanblas Why I'm grateful that I almost died 

It took some time before we finally made it home, but that’s another story. Two years on, we have enjoyed many more adventures. We are both happy, healthy and now have a beautiful 6 month old baby boy.


Sometimes the smallest things we do have the biggest consequences. 


As I think back, I am so grateful for the small circumstances that aligned so that we can be here today. If the boat had bounced off the reef and sank we would have ended up in the water like those needles in the haystack. Or if those fishermen had not decided to row in our direction, who knows if we would have ever been rescued. Knowing this makes me so grateful for every day. Life is such a precious gift. Ironically, realising how easily life can be snatched from us has left me with a deeper appreciation of how precious life is- even the little things.  

Why I'm grateful that I almost died 

Making fatherhood count

Or at least I want to try my best to make it count. Becoming a daddy has been such a blessing to me! I feel so protective of my little boy, but really want him to grow strong and have his own adventures. I feel very challenged to find the balance between preparing him and protecting him. I suspect this is a dilemma many parents go through.  

 Why I'm grateful that I almost died

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