Understanding the text
Question 1. List the steps taken by the captain.
(i) To protect the ship when rough weather began.
Answer To protect the ship when rough weather began, the captain took the following steps
- To slow the boat down, the captain dropped the storm jib and lashed a heavy mooring rope in a loop across the stern.
- He then double lashed everything, and went through the life raft drill.
- The captain then attached lifelines, donned oilskins and life jackets.
(ii) To check the flooding of the water in the ship.
Answer To check the flooding of the water in the ship, the following steps were taken
- The captain stretched canvas and secured waterproof hatch covers across the gaping holes. With this step taken, the water still seeped, but most of it was now being deflected over the side.
- When the hand pumps started to block up, the author found another electric pump under the chartroom floor and connected it to an out pipe.
Question 2. Describe the mental condition of the voyagers on 4th and 5th January.
Answer On 4th January, the mental condition of the voyagers was vascillating between hope and despair. After 36 hours of continuous pumping, water had receded but they still had to keep pace with the water still coming in. The captain’s wife provided them with the first meal in two days of some corned beef and cracker biscuits. However, this respite was only short-lived. The storm started building up and the situation again became worse.
On 5th January, the situation was desperate. When the captain went to his children to comfort them, the small boy asked him innocently if they all were going to die but added that he did not mind dying as long as all were the family members were together. This strengthened the captain’s determination to fight all odds and survive.
Question 3. Describe the shifts in the narration of the events as indicated in the three sections of the text. Give a subtitle to each section.
Answer Subtitle The Hazardous sea-voyage, the first section of the narration narrates the enthusiastic preparations and the sea voyage, which the captain, along with his family members, undertook in July, 1976. Their boat ‘wave walker’ was a professionally built boat, which completed the first leg of their planned three-year journey pleasantly. At this point of their journey, the captain took on two crewman– American Larry Vigil and Swiss Herb Seigler to help them tackle one of the world’s roughest seas – the southern Indian ocean.
In the first section, we notice a shift in the narration when the captain and his crew encountered atrocious weather. The high sea waves were creating havoc. The boat started leaking. There was water everywhere and to make it more worse, the captain met with an accident.
There were some other mishaps also with the other family members. The good part was that all those who started the voyage were still together.
Facing Tough Situations with Grit and Determination
The second part of the narration deals with the efforts put in to over come the ordeal. It also shows the brighter side of human nature. The captain and his family members showed exemplary courage and strength in the face of disaster. This section cleary gives a very meaningful lesson ‘United we stand’. Even the young ones in the family displayed how a positive lookout can help in overcoming the greatest difficulties. One should never bow down and meekly accept the problem.
Perseverance and Optimism Lead to Victory
The third part of the narration sees the ‘wavewalker’ and its occupants reach the island Ile-Amsterdam. Initially, the captain had lost hope that they
could reach the island. Suddenly, a cheerful announcement by his son that he was the best father and the best captain made him realise that after all, they had reached the island. It seemed the most beautiful island in the world even though it was only a bleak piece of volcanic rock with a little vegetation.
Talking about the text
Question 1. Discuss the following questions with your partner.
What difference did you notice between the reaction of the children and the adults when faced with danger?
Answer There was not much of a difference between the reaction of the children and the adults when faced with danger. Both showed courage and strength. The children showed a more positive frame of mind. The captain and his crew members tried to save the boat but the impetus given to the captain was from his son who said that he was not afraid to die as long as they were together.
Question 2. How does the story suggest that optimism helps to endure ‘the direst stress’?
Answer The story runs between hope and despair. The sea-voyage started on a note of hope and enthusiasm, and ended on a note of fullfillment. During the voyage, the boat had to sail in rough waters. The captain managed to steer the boat to an island. At times, his failing courage got the boost from his family members and crew. His wife stayed at the wheels in the crucial hours, his seven years old girl did not let them worry about her head injury and his six years old boy was not afraid to die.
Question 3. What lessons do we learn from such hazardous experiences when we are face to face with death?
Answer The most important lesson that we learn from such hazardous experiences, when we are face-to-face with death, is not to lose hope under any circumstances. At times, life presents very dire situations but if one is optimistic about finding a solution and overcomes the odds, one will always be successful.
Question 4. Why do you think people undertake such adventurous expedition in spite of the risks involved?
Answer Most of us like to lead a risk free life but there are a few of us who believe that if we want to live life to the fullest, we have to go beyond day-to-day routine. If that was not the case, a lot of mysteries, places and events would not have been known to the world. The urge to do something out of the ordinary forces people to take adventurous expeditions, inspite of the risks involved.
Working with words
Question 1. The following words used in the text as ship terminology are also commonly used in another sense. In what contexts would you use the other meaning?
Knot, Stern, Boom, Hatch, Anchor
- Knot A fastening
The villagers tied the culprit in a secured knot.
- Stern Serious, disapproving
The teacher’s stern look silenced the wrong doer.
- Boom A loud deep sound
The chaos turned into order the moment the leader addressed the public with a boom in his voice.
- Young ones of a bird, fish or reptile comes out of the egg. It is strange that crows hatch the bird Koel’s eggs.
- To form a plot or plan.
The terrorists were nabbed by the police before they could hatch another attack.
- Anchor A person who presents a live television or radio programme. Harsha Bhogal is the best sports anchor in the present time.
Question 2. The following three compound words end in ship. What does each of them mean? Airship, Flagship, Lightship
- Airship A large power driven aircraft filled with a gas which is lighter than air.
- Flagship The ship in a fleet which carries the commanding officer.
- Lightship A ship with lights to guide other ships.
Question 3. The following are the meanings listed in the dictionary against the phrase ‘take on’. In which meaning is it used in the third paragraph of the account?
Answer In the third paragraph of the account, the phrase ‘take on’ is used as ‘to employ’, ‘to engage’.
Before heading East, we ‘took on’ two crewmen – American Larry Vigil and Swiss Herb Seigler.