20 Survivors Of Plane Crashes, Shipwrecks, And Other Gruesome Disasters Tell Their Story

These stories from Ask Reddit will make you thankful for every single breath.

16. I have PSTD from our fishing boat charter that sank

“I was in a smallish fishing boat charter that sank a little less than 12 miles from a Caribbean island in the Atlantic. From the first sign of trouble to looking straight down at the boat slowly sinking beneath the surface was only about 10 minutes time. Trust me when I say that’s an image I’ll never forget — a white sport fisher being swallowed by the dark blue beneath me. When boats sink, they SINK.

Somewhere in the chaos the captain called his friends in the marina before the boat sank, so we waited there just drifting for a while, collecting any floating debris we could hang on to. Fortunately we had life vests otherwise I have no doubt we’d all be dead. 2 hours pass, nobody comes by to pick us up, clouds and rain are more frequent so we lose sight of the island occasionally, and I finally convince everyone to agree to start swimming towards the island — I know the best thing to do is stay together and not move, but the island didn’t seem too too far away, and it was obvious to me that nobody was going to find us at this point. Just as we start slowly moving a helicopter comes and hovers somewhere between us and the island, presumably over the coordinates the captain gave his friends. I swim my ass off towards that thing and in so doing lose sight of the captain and first mate, so now it’s just me and my sister…and then the helicopter leaves. That sucked. But, given the weather there was almost zero chance of them spotting us unless we were right under them.

We decide our best chance at survival is to keep swimming towards the island. The whole time it’s rainy, cloudy, rough seas (there was a small craft advisory — wish we had been told that before leaving the marina!), and much of the time (literally hours) we can’t see the island AT ALL and use the wind as our directional guide… That sensation of not being able to see anything but grey skies and waves with nothing to grasp on to was the toughest part. We did see another helicopter before nightfall when the weather started clearing a bit, but it was way too far away from us. Nightfall is also when we can tell that we actually made progress and were getting closer to the island, but the darkness changes all that as all we could look at were a handful of lights on the island and a bright spot that was probably a resort ~7 or so miles to the north.

Fast forward to maybe 2 or 3am, some 15-16 hours after the boat sank, and we actually get to the island. Of course it’s mostly cliffs, the water is colder (being churned from the deep by the currents hitting the island), so we swim South until we can see water that isn’t white. We get out of the water maybe an hour later and can barely walk. There are some lights in the distance but no way we were gonna get to them in our condition, so we just tried to stay warm under some trees out of the rain. No sleep, just shivering and trying to stay warm.

Finally the sun comes up and we are able to stop shivering. We can walk somewhat better now, so we start drinking from a nearby stream — assuming we’ll get to help before we die from some parasite — and start hiking over the hills. I tossed my lifevest into a tree just in case someone spots it. The hike takes us a few hours over two ridges and through some pretty thick brush. Fortunately there were a few more streams. We finally get to a makeshift farm of sorts and decide to eat some bananas from a small banana grove. That’s when we spot a guy walking to work on the farm. He feeds us some crackers and water and walks up the road to call the police for us…

Based on where we got to land they changed their search and found the captain and first mate in the water shortly thereafter. We all end up in the hospital around the same time, and we finally got to escape the hospital after ~36 hours and several bags of IV fluids. There’s a lot more that happened in that whole 72hour period, but you get the idea.

Funny thing – we went back about 8 months later and tried to get a boat to take us to where we got to land, but they all said it was too dangerous, ha!

It was all over the news for like 2.6 minutes, like everything these days. Even though we all survived, I still have PTSD from that event, which sucks. It’s pretty well triggered when I’m on the water and it’s stormy or in airplanes and it’s turbulent (and I fly all the time sigh), but PTSD be damned, I’m planning on buying a sailboat by the end of the year and sailing around the Caribbean and Central America…and if I can get enough blue water experience, across the Pacific? We’ll see…” — nevernottraveling 

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