First I want to thank everyone who helped in my rescue and who prayed for me.
I thought it might be best if I told everyone how this happened and what we have learned from it .
Around 10.30am on our way from Isla San Francisco to La Paz in very heavy flowing seas our dinghy broke loose. I shouldn't have tried to retrieve her, but, in the moment, I couldn't let my dinghy go without trying to retrieve her. We tried 3 times to go back with Blue being thown all over the place and Maggie's nerves at the end and her saying "My Honey, I can't do this any more". I said one more time and this time Maggie was able to throw a small anchor and it caught the dinghy! Now I had to try and tie the dinghy to Blue which I was not able to do in the huge seas (10- 15 ) foot swells, 4 - 6 seconds apart), but I was able to jump into the dinghy thinking that if I got the dinghy going I could pull up to Blue and retie her.
After getting the dinghy started I realised that the gear and throttle control had broken off when the anchor had caught the dinghy, so the only way of controlling the speed was with a small pair of pliers on a small piece of metal that was sticking out of the throttle control.
We decided that we would try and head for Isla Partida and find shelter but after about 10 minutes Maggie said we were running broadside and we couldn't make the crossing. It would be better to try and make it to La Paz. At that time I called out to Maggie to slow down so I could try one more time to retie the dinghy to Blue but she didn't hear me. All this time I was having a really hard time controlling the speed going down these 20 foot swells and having to turn sharply at the bottom. So just what I was afraid of happened: as I turned at the bottm of the swell another wave hit me and flipped me. I ended up about 20 yards from the dinghy and swam hard! When I reached the dinghy I laughed thinking "Neville, what have you done?"
Maggie was quite a long way from me at this time (thinking that I was still behind her) and thought that I might be gettng cold and needed water so she got a bag ready to throw to me, but when she got to the back of Blue she couldn't see me and didn't know I had flipped even though she had a feeling I had... the swells were coming from two directions and she worried one would get me while I wasn't looking. She tried to turn Blue back into the swells but they were too big and were very close together. She had to make a decision then to continue forward and said it was the hardest thing she has ever had to do, but now knows it was the best decision she could've made.
I was able to climb on the upside down dinghy and hang on. I was drifting very fast and I knew that with the wind and current I would eventually hit land as long as I could hold on. My main concern was how I could get through the night as the waves were hitting me and I was cold and having a hard time staying dry. Maggie is amazing: through all of this she radioed for help and everyone was fantastic. I did see a helicopter but it was quite a long way from me. At around 4 pm (after 4 hours in the water) I saw a sail boat head out of the island and wondered what he was doing going out in weather like this! Then I realized that he was looking for me. Turns out it was Keith and Olina on "Anon" but they were quite a distance from me. It felt really good to know that people were looking for me!
There are many thoughts that go through your mind over the 5 hours: at first I asked God to look after me but then I told him that it wasn't fair to only ask Him when I needed Him and when I haven't even thanked him for anything over the years, so I told Him to forget it, but He helped me anyway! and I've thanked Him a lot since then! I thought about what I had to do to the dinghy to get it fixed and what was left to do on Blue. I knew everyone would be worried but I never ever felt my life was in danger; I guess I am stubborn and, as my boys will tell you, I have put them through many adventures, but nothing like this. I think the key was keeping my mind on the next day and not allowing myself to thinkof anything else! I waved my T-shirt around a couple of times trying to dry it and hoping someone might see it. My glasses were still in my pocket and I shone them into the sun hoping someone might see the light glancing off them! As Maggie mentioned, I cut my toenails! Anything to keep my mind busy. I tried not to think about being thirsty.
When the Mexican navy finally found me around 5.00 pm, I still don't know how they saw me with a white bottom dinghy, the white T-shirt I was wearing and all the white caps on the waves from the wind! They said they had been on the water looking for me for about 4 hours. We were not able to save the dinghy after all that! but they were terrific! Lt Garcia and his crew were super nice to me and I want to thank them again.
Maggie did every thing right. She is amazing. Tomorrow we hope to head out and continue our journey up north toward Mulege and Bahia Concepcion. We were able to find a small dinghy to get us throuh the next couple of weeks before we get back to the States. My job today is to get it ready for fishing!
Take care. I love you all. Thanks Alison for smiling and telling me you'd had the best week ever!! You're amazing too!!