We Are Not Afraid to Die…. If We can all be Together| Ch 2| by Gordon Cook and Alan East



  • Rapport Building
  • About the lesson
  • Comprehension
  • Project Work
  • Class Activities

Rapport Building

  • How many of you like adventurous activities?
  • Can you name some adventurous and fun activities?
  • Who is good at swimming?
  • Who loves stunt driving?
  • Has anyone of you experienced a boat or steamer cruise ever?
  • Who is afraid of water waves?
  • Who among you guys has the anxiety to dive into the water?
  • Are you familiar with the following words?

voyage, explorer, safefaring skills, wavewalker, atrocious weather

Here, we are going to enjoy an interesting and adventurous story of a family who is stuck in an impending storm while exploring the world. Let’s find out whether they are able to rescue themselves or give up in an alarming storm.

Unit-1 Text

IN July 1976, my wife Mary, son Jonathan, 6, daughter Suzanne, 7, and I set sail from Plymouth, England, to duplicate the round- the-world voyage made 200 years earlier by Captain James Cook. For the longest time, Mary and I — a 37-year-old businessman — had dreamt of sailing in the wake of the famous explorer, and for the past 16 years we had spent all our leisure time honing our seafaring skills in British waters.
Our boat Wavewalker, a 23 metre, 30 ton wooden-hulled beauty, had been professionally built, and we had spent months fitting it out and testing it in the roughest weather we could find.
The first leg of our planned three-year, 105,000 kilometre journey passed pleasantly as we sailed down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town. There, before heading east, we took on two crewmen — American Larry Vigil and Swiss Herb Seigler — to help us tackle one of the world’s roughest seas, the southern Indian Ocean.

On our second day out of Cape Town, we began to encounter strong gales. For the next few weeks, they blew continuously. Gales did not worry me; but the size of the waves was alarming — up to 15 metres, as high as our main mast.
December 25 found us 3,500 kilometres east of Cape Town. Despite atrocious weather, we had a wonderful holiday complete with a Christmas tree. New Year’s Day saw no improvement in the weather, but we reasoned that it had to change soon. And it did change — for the worse.

Comprehension Question

  1. Write the names of people who were on the sail with the narrator to round the world by voyage.
  2. When and where did they start their journey from?
  3. Who was James Cook?
  4. Who is the businessman here?
  5. How did the narrator spend 16 years of his leisure time? What was the dream of the narrator?
  6. Describe the board’s wave walker.
  7. How long have they passed in three years on their sail and describe their journey over the first three years?
  8. Why did the narrator take the crewmen and write their names?
  9. Why did the narrator say, ” Gales did not worry but the size of the wave was alarming”?
  10. What do you understand by “the worse_ for the worse?


  1. Did you ever watch a movie in which the ship is sunk or trapped in serious trouble?
  2. What did you observe about the people?
  3. What precautions do the crewmen take in the moment of emergency?
  4. Have you ever experienced sinking in a river?
  5. How can a sinking person be rescued?
  6. Think about the mental state of the people who experience such an atrocity.
  7. Imagine if your friend is sinking in the river and losing his hope what will you do for him?
  8. Are you familiar with these words: gigaintic, jib, knot, mooring rope, life raft drill, lifelines donned oilskins

Unit-2 Text

Text: At dawn on January 2, the waves were gigantic. We were sailing with only a small storm jib and were still making eight knots. As the ship rose to the top of each wave we could see endless enormous seas rolling towards us, and the screaming of the wind and spray was painful to the ears. To slow the boat down, we dropped the storm jib and lashed a heavy mooring rope in a loop across the stern. Then we double-lashed everything, went through our life-raft drill, attached lifelines, donned oilskins and life jackets — and waited.

The first indication of impending disaster came at about 6 p.m., with an ominous silence. The wind dropped, and the sky immediately grew dark. Then came a growing roar, and an enormous cloud towered aft of the ship. With horror, I realised that it was not a cloud, but a wave like no other I had ever seen. It appeared perfectly vertical and almost twice the height of the other waves, with a frightful breaking crest.

The roar increased to a thunder as the stern moved up the face of the wave, and for a moment I thought we might ride over it. But then a tremendous explosion shook the deck. A torrent of green and white water broke over the ship, my head smashed into the wheel, and I was aware of flying overboard and sinking below the waves. I accepted my approaching death, and as I was losing consciousness, I felt quite peaceful.

Unexpectedly, my head popped out of the water. A few metres away, Wavewalker was near capsizing, her masts almost horizontal. Then a wave hurled her upright, my lifeline jerked taut, I grabbed the guard rails and sailed through the air into Wavewalker’s main boom. Subsequent waves tossed me around the deck like a rag doll. My left ribs cracked; my mouth filled with blood and broken teeth. Somehow, I found the wheel, lined up the stern for the next wave, and hung on.

Water, Water, Everywhere. I could feel that the ship had water below, but I dared not abandon the wheel to investigate. Suddenly,the front hatch was thrown open and Mary appeared. “We’re sinking!” she screamed. “The decks are smashed; we’re full of water.”
“Take the wheel”, I shouted as I scrambled for the hatch.
Larry and Herb were pumping like madmen. Broken timbers hung at crazy angles, the whole starboard side bulged inwards; clothes, crockery, charts, tins and toys sloshed about in deep water.
I half-swam, half-crawled into the children’s cabin. “Are you all right?” I asked. “Yes,” they answered from an upper bunk. “But my head hurts a bit,” said Sue, pointing to a big bump above her eyes. I had no time to worry about bumped heads.
After finding a hammer, screws and canvas, I struggled back on deck. With the starboard side bashed open, we were taking water with each wave that broke over us. If I couldn’t make some repairs, we would surely sink.
Somehow I managed to stretch canvas and secure waterproof hatch covers across the gaping holes. Some water continued to stream below, but most of it was now being deflected over the side.
More problems arose when our hand pumps started to block up with the debris floating around the cabins and the electric pump short-circuited. The water level rose threateningly. Back on deck I found that our two spare hand pumps had been wrenched overboard — along with the forestay sail, the jib, the dinghies and the main anchor.
Then I remembered we had another electric pump under the chartroom floor. I connected it to an out-pipe, and was thankful to find that it worked.
The night dragged on with an endless, bitterly cold routine of pumping, steering and working the radio. We were getting no replies to our Mayday calls — which was not surprising in this remote corner of the world.
Sue’s head had swollen alarmingly; she had two enormous black eyes, and now she showed us a deep cut on her arm. When I asked why she hadn’t made more of her injuries before this, she replied, “I didn’t want to worry you when you were trying to save us all.”

Comprehension Questions

  1. Write the things which the narrator used to fight against gigantic waves.
  2. Describe the weather and impending disaster which occurred at 6 pm.
  3. Describe the mental state of the narrator and the disastrous wave.
  4. Which part of the narrator’s body gets injured in an impending disaster?
  5. Paraphrase the narrator’s conversation with his children.
  6. Why did the narrator not get any signals from the radio?
  7. Describe the injuries of the two children, Sue, and Marry.
  8. Sue replied to her father, ” I didn’t want to worry you when you were trying to save us all”? How do you interpret her bravery and faithfulness?


  • Think about the situation when you are about to give up but suddenly someone grabs your hand to help you out.
  • What do you do if your motorbike or car just stops running on the main road while travelling?
  • Why do bikers and drivers have a toolbox with them while travelling?
  • Did you notice the mechanics’ shop on the side of the highway? Discuss with your friends why it is so.

Unit-3 Text

Text: By morning on January 3, the pumps had the water level sufficiently under control for us to take two hours’ rest in rotation. But we still had a tremendous leak somewhere below the waterline and, on checking, I found that nearly all the boat’s main rib frames were smashed down to the keel. In fact, there was nothing holding up a whole section of the starboard hull except a few cupboard partitions.

We had survived for 15 hours since the wave hit, but Wavewalker wouldn’t hold together long enough for us to reach Australia. I checked our charts and calculated that there were two small islands a few hundred kilometres to the east. One of them, Ile Amsterdam, was a French scientific base. Our only hope was to reach these pinpricks in the vast ocean. But unless the wind and seas abated so we could hoist sail, our chances would be slim indeed. The great wave had put our auxiliary engine out of action.

On January 4, after 36 hours of continuous pumping, we reached the last few centimetres of water. Now, we had only to keep pace with the water still coming in. We could not set any sail on the main mast. Pressure on the rigging would simply pull the damaged section of the hull apart, so we hoisted the storm jib and headed for where I thought the two islands were. Mary found some corned beef and cracker biscuits, and we ate our first meal in almost two days.
But our respite was short-lived. At 4 p.m. black clouds began building up behind us; within the hour the wind was back to 40 knots and the seas were getting higher. The weather continued to deteriorate throughout the night, and by dawn on January 5, our situation was again desperate.

When I went in to comfort the children, Jon asked, “Daddy, are we going to die?” I tried to assure him that we could make it. “But, Daddy,” he went on, “we aren’t afraid of dying if we can all be together — you and Mummy, Sue and I.”
I could find no words with which to respond, but I left the children’s cabin determined to fight the sea with everything I had. To protect the weakened starboard side, I decided to heave- to — with the undamaged port hull facing the oncoming waves, using an improvised sea anchor of heavy nylon rope and two 22-litre plastic barrels of paraffin.
That evening, Mary and I sat together holding hands, as the motion of the ship brought more and more water in through the broken planks. We both felt the end was very near.

But Wavewalker rode out the storm and by the morning of January 6, with the wind easing, I tried to get a reading on the sextant. Back in the chartroom, I worked on wind speeds, changes of course, drift and current in an effort to calculate our position. The best I could determine was that we were somewhere in 150,000 kilometres of ocean looking for a 65 kilometre-wide island.While I was thinking, Sue, moving painfully, joined me. The left side of her head was now very swollen and her blackened eyes narrowed to slits. She gave me a card she had made.

On the front she had drawn caricatures of Mary and me with the words: “Here are some funny people. Did they make you laugh? I laughed a lot as well.” Inside was a message: “Oh, how I love you both. So this card is to say thank you and let’s hope for the best.” Somehow we had to make it.

Comprehension Questions

  1. How did the narrator feel when he found the water level was under control?
  2. What was wrong with the Boat’s frame (the main rib)?
  3. When the narrator checked the chart what did he calculate?
  4. Interpret the tone of the narrator when he said, ” After 36 hours of continuous pumping, we reached the last few centimetres of the waters”
  5. What happened on January 4 at 4 pm?
  6. Who said, Daddy, are we going to die”? Who is Daddy here?
  7. What do you think about the boy who said, We are not afraid of dying if we can all be together”
  8. What lesson did you get from Jon? Did you ever help elderly people to keep them carrying on?



  • Think about an emergency when you need to take your baby to the hospital due to his acute illness and your car and bike are not working and meantime you don’t have any alternatives.
  • Do you think a driver must have some skills in repairing? Discuss with your friends.

I checked and rechecked my calculations. We had lost our main compass and I was using a spare which had not been corrected for magnetic variation. I made an allowance for this and another estimate of the influence of the westerly currents which flow through this part of the Indian Ocean.
About 2 p.m., I went on deck and asked Larry to steer a course of 185 degrees. If we were lucky, I told him with a conviction I did not feel, he could expect to see the island at about 5 p.m.
Then, with a heavy heart, I went below, climbed on my bunk and amazingly, dozed off. When I woke it was 6 p.m. and growing dark. I knew we must have missed the island, and with the sail we had left, we couldn’t hope to beat back into the westerly winds.

At that moment, a tousled head appeared by my bunk. “Can I have a hug?” Jonathan asked. Sue was right behind him.
“Why am I getting a hug now?” I asked.
“Because you are the best daddy in the whole world — and the best captain,” my son replied.
“Not today, Jon, I’m afraid.”
“Why, you must be,” said Sue in a matter-of-fact voice. “You found the island.”
“What!” I shouted.
“It’s out there in front of us,” they chorused, “as big as a battleship.”
I rushed on deck and gazed with relief at the stark outline of Ile Amsterdam. It was only a bleak piece of volcanic rock, with little vegetation — the most beautiful island in the world!

We anchored offshore for the night, and the next morning all 28 inhabitants of the island cheered as they helped us ashore.
With land under my feet again, my thoughts were full of Larry and Herbie, cheerful and optimistic under the direst stress, and of Mary, who stayed at the wheel for all those crucial hours. Most of all, I thought of a seven-year-old girl, who did not want us to worry about a head injury (which subsequently took six minor operations to remove a recurring blood clot between skin and skull), and of a six-year-old boy who was not afraid to die.

Comprehension Question

  1. What happened when the narrator lost his compass?
  2. What did the writer ask her wife?
  3. What did they expect to witness at 5 pm?
  4. Why did Jonathan ask for a hug?
  5. You are the best daddy in the world? Justify this statement said by Jon.
  6. Why did they shout? Describe their feelings.
  7. The narrator is showing gratitude for the captains, his wife and his children though he fights against such a stormy gale. How do you see the narrator’s nature?

Project and Assignments (Group Activity)

  • Search the route of the narrator’s voyage trip on google and discuss it with your group partners.
  • Draw a ship on a chart and label its most important part which you learned in this chapter.
  • Write a short story of adventure with help of your friends.
  • Find the world’s biggest mysteries in travelling and which are still unsolved.
  • Write a short note on the adventure and persistent nature of the narrator.
  • Compile idioms and phrases on Bravery.
  • Write the character sketch of the children.
  • Present yourself as a tour guide and recommend tools and items which are highly essential for every sailor.

Group Discussion

  • Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking. – Mahatma Gandhi
  • We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end. – Woodrow T. Wilson
  • When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.  – Winston S. Churchill

Speech (3 minutes)

  • When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.
  • Unity is Strength Division is Weakness
  • There is beauty and power in unity. We must be united in heart and mind. One world, one people. – Lailah Gifty Akita

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