Lindemann, Hannes - Alone at Sea - December 14th
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Alone at Sea – Hannes Lindemann
December 14 th
I sailed all night through. I had no recollection or feeling that I had ever slept. I knew only that I was tired; terribly tired! Often during the day my eyes closed and my mind wandered. A tropic bird from the western Atlantic, approaching that morning, gave me comfort. The first American to greet me on the voyage. I knew, of course, that they fly far from land, but sill I welcomed him and cheered up.
The wind blew from thirty to forty miles an hour. I forgot the beautiful white bird. I thought solely of my discomfort and my fears. I felt so small, so insignificant and so helpless in these powerful seas. The unusual name that a Fanti fisherman in Liberia had given his canoe repeated itself endlessly in my mind. "Who are You, Seapower?"
My God, Fanti fisherman, I thought, come and look at these waves, and you will feel as small as I.
All at once a huge steamer loomed to port; it had come up without my noticing it. What do they want, I asked myself, and waved at them.
"Everything is fine here," I shouted. Then I saw a man, megaphone in hand, calling to me.
"My dear Lindemann," rang across the water, "don't be a stubborn fool." And the rest of his words drowned in the roar of the waves. The words were spoken in German, and the voice was familiar. And then I knew who he was. It was the voice of a newspaper man whom I had met when I returned from my last trip. I remembered him clearly because he had arrived before the others to interview me. He was a former ship's officer, but I could tell at the time from the manner in which he questioned me that he hated the sea.
And why was it this voice that shouted at me from the steamer?
The ship made a circle around me, putting oil on her course. But I continued sailing, passing by the oil slicks. The small breakers lessened, and the surface appeared smoother; but the huge combers were not impressed by the oil and thundered on. Another squall swept the sea and kept my hands and feet occupied steering the boat in a westerly direction. The steamer, circling around, confused me. I forgot to head west. I took pictures of it, and then there it was, alongside once again.
A young officer made a despairing gesture in my direction. Could he not help me? Smiling, I waved a "no" at him, but my smile was a parody, a horrible grimace. I had begun to realize that anything could happen to me in such stormy trade winds, that factors I had not reckoned with could overtake me. The ship veered off close to the boat, its waves mingling with wind waves and splashing over my deck. Then I found myself in its wake, forcing me to be on my guard to avoid the log line of the ship.
On her stern I read, Eaglesdale, London The meeting cheered me, for it was fine to know that people wanted to help even though I would not give them the opportunity. Perhaps I should have accepted. Give up after eight weeks, after fifty-five days at sea? I had to succeed by myself. I would come through all right. I was determined.
The German voice coming to me from an English steamer puzzled me. Had I really heard it? Could the man have resolved his hate-Iove for the sea by returning to it? I would have to write to the ship and find out who had spoken.
After my arrival in St. Thomas I wrote the captain of the Eaglesdale, who replied with a friendly note, congratulating me on having survived "such bad weather." But the German voice was a hallucination. My eyes had reacted correctly, but my ears had deceived me.
As the ship left she put oil out to calm the seas and prolong my life.
The source of the experienceLindemann, Hannes
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsLoneliness and isolation
Overwhelming fear and terror
Sleep deprivation, insomnia and mental exhaustion