Sailors' Library

Adrift

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur

When Hurricane Raymond spun westward across the Pacific Ocean in June 1983 a Trintella 44 Ketch, Hazana, was heading straight towards the storm’s path. 

Onboard were skipper Richard Sharp and his fiancée Tami Oldham Ashcraft, the boat’s delivery crew on passage from Tahiti to San Diego.

The boat was pitch-poled, dismasted and Sharp was washed over the side, and lost.

So much for the facts, but when this film was released two years ago so concerned were the Trintella builders they sent a newsletter to their customers pointing out that the boat used in the biopic was not a Trintella, but a ‘kind of Taiwan clipper.’

Certainly, when actress Shailene Woodley, playing Oldham Ashcraft, dives overboard to try and unfoul the jammed helm she finds a sail jammed between the spade rudder and the hull, something which could not happen on a rudder with a skeg, which most Trintellas are fitted with.

As seafarers, we are duty-bound to nit-pick our way through representations of our pursuit on the silver screen, but leaving aside the fact that a deck hatch is left open as the seas break aboard, that water is left to slosh around in the bilge and that any sail at all remains set in winds of 145 knots, I enjoyed this tear-jerker and was left truly humbled at the brave and relentless battle, fought by Woodley/Ashcraft to survive under jury rig, using self-taught sextant-positioning and nibbling meagre rations in a 41-day ordeal alone on the open ocean, Adrift is testament to a remarkable sailor.

Available on Netflix.

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