A Story of Survival, Hope, and Spirituality
By Charlie Sheldon
Charlie Sheldon’s Adrift is a book of multiple stories told from different points of view, beautifully interwoven together to form a compelling tapestry of hope, spirituality, endurance, determination, and survival. Sheldon creates plots that are so alive, they hook the reader tight until the end.
A seafaring reader could relate to the struggles of the characters of the story because they are actually happening in real life, as I’ve learned from my seafaring friends. The tragedy that the Seattle Express gets into is perhaps the worst nightmare any mariner could ever experience, most especially when the mariner is the master of the ship. As Steve Procida puts it:
“For a captain, losing a ship under any circumstances usually means the end of the line, career-wise, but to abandon ship, and then have the ship recovered is even worse.”
The main plot of Adrift is set in the vast ocean of the North Pacific under an untameable December weather. The Seattle Express rolls over rough seas when suddenly a fire breaks out. Struggling to move around amid the mayhem of containers breaking loose from their positions, the violent seas rocking the ship, and thickening smoke, the crew try to remain calm. However, after desperately trying to figure out where it originates and attempting to put out the fire, the captain’s judgment call is to abandon ship. Steve then divides his crew into two teams to board the two lifeboats.
As soon as the lifeboats hit the water, communication between the two teams is also cut off.
Meanwhile, three hundred miles away on land, a couple who owns a small towing company learns about the tragedy at sea. They set out to salvage the burning container ship with the hope of a settlement claim. The towing company is in a difficult financial situation, and by salvaging the Seattle Express will also mean saving their business. The towing team needs to get to the burning vessel quickly before the bigger tugboat, which also owns the Seattle Express, does. Will they get to the ship in time?
Charlie Sheldon is, indeed, a master story-teller. He’s able to keep the suspense element of the plots consistently high. He describes the scenes so vividly, bringing the reader right into where the action takes place.
What I like the most in Adrift is its presentation of the different characters. Their portrayals are alive and very close to reality, and the inclusion of the ancient, mystic faith into the story gives more weight to the plots. The characters’ sense of spirituality keeps their hope afloat in those trying moments of their lives.
There is only a slight part of the plot that, I feel, is a bit hanging. The natives’ reaction to Buckhorn’s mining plans is not given much attention. I think this is important in the plot because the land forms part of the tribal characters’ cultural foundation. I wish Sheldon expounded a bit on this portion. But then, I also understand that the author must have his reason for touching the subject lightly. After all, this issue is just a backdrop of the overall plot.
Despite this personal observation, though, I did not find anything to dislike in the book. I give Adrift a rating of 5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves reading adventure stories. Families and loved ones of seafarers should also read it so they would understand what life is like riding the ferocious waves and harsh weather conditions out in the open sea. It pains me to see, on several real occasions, how children and spouses of seafarers squander their allotment money with little or no regard for the mariner’s sacrifice in providing for them.