The story you are about to read is true. I was, and still am at the time of writing, the Captain of the vessel that rescued the drifters. Following the rescue, the three Kiribati men were guests onboard the F/V American Victory for a period of three weeks as we finished our commercial South Pacific fishing trip. Their time aboard presented me with the fortunate opportunity to capture their story. The account that follows is an accurate retelling of the men's ordeal. Roitam, the owner-skipper, had in his possession a small hand-held GPS unit. Whenever possible, he recorded current latitude and longitude bearings. This data was in good order upon his rescue and was transferred to my possession. Following printing out the bearings in chrological order, I proceeded to interview Roitam about each day of his 87-day ordeal. Detailed tes were taken, recorded, and then outlined for his review corresponding to that day's specific latitude and longitude. Following his review of my tes, I edited the tes and again submitted them for his review. This process was exercised a number of times over their time aboard F/V American Victory. The process continued until Roitam was confident that the facts were all properly recalled and documented. Of further te is the fact that of the three Kiribati men, only Roitam spoke English and so only he could be directly interviewed by me. Roitam consistently reviewed all of my edited tes with both Naaa and Ekeimoa and included their input as well throughout the interview process. All the events, including shark and marlin attacks, current weather, food and water shortages, near capsizes, and corresponding sea conditions, were relayed to me by Roitam, following his discussion with his crew, during the extensive interview process. Today all three survivors are home with their families on the island atoll of Tarawa, which is one of many islands comprising the sovereign nation of Kiribati. During the summer of 2010, I opened a benevolent trust at Bank of America for the benefit of the Kiribati survivors with myself appointed as trustee. The title of the trust is, Roitam Taakiro Survival Fund, and the purpose of the trust is to raise funds to buy the valiant Kiribati men a new skiff and outboard so that they can continue to provide for their families. To date, 100% of all proceeds paid to me for periodical articles detailing the Kiribati men's story have been directed to the trust as have numerous reader contributions. The same will be true for any personal reimbursement from the publication of this book until the trust's mission has been accomplished.
Having been raised in the active seaport of Seattle, the romance of the sea was a continual pull on my consciousness as I grew up, a pull fueled by the hunger for adventure to which I eventually yielded. Following two years of Community College, in 1972 I found myself enrolled in Evergreen State University with a focus on literature and creative writing. It was during the first quarter of enrollment at Evergreen State that I succumbed to the young man's passion for adventure and hitchhiked a ride on a King Crab boat departing Seattle for Dutch Harbor and the Bering Sea. Following, from 1972 to 1983, I fished King Crab in the Bering Sea, advancing from cook to deckhand, to engineer, and eventually to the position of Captain. My early fishing income allowed me to purchase a sailing yacht, which I promptly did and immediately moved aboard. The first yacht was a 38-foot sloop that I sailed extensively throughout the Salish Sea and eventually down the west coast to San Francisco. It was while anchored in Sausalito in 1974, that my eyes first fell upon the exquisite lines of an Alden Schooner, and I determined then and there that I had to have one. Given that, I sold my sloop in San Francisco and returned to the Bering Sea to produce the additional capital needed to purchase an Alden staysail-rigged schooner. I found my fantasy boat anchored in Keai Lagoon on the island of Oahu a year later. I immediately depleted my savings account to put 60% down on the vessel and again returned to the Bering Sea to produce the balance needed to pay off the seller-held mortgage. Two years later, the 72-foot Alden schooner was unencumbered by debt and for nine years I happily sailed her throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Turning thirty-three in 1984, and following twelve years of unbridled adventure upon the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, I developed a yearning for something new ... a new kind of adventure. This led me to Wall Street where I was a securities broker for a challenging twenty-one years. During the final eighteen years of this time period I owned a Freya cutter-rigged sloop - and still do. It was on my sloop that I spent almost all my free time sailing north and south as time permitted, spanning waters from Alaska to Mexico.