English CBSE Class 11 NCERT Hornbill Chapter 2 We’re Not Afraid to Die Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words
WE’RE NOT AFRAID TO DIE
Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context.
|honing our seafaring skills||Improving our skills of travel by sea|
|ominous silence||Inauspicious silence|
|Mayday calls||Emergency calls|
|pinpricks in the vast ocean||Very small in very big ocean|
|A tousled head||Head having uncombed hair|
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.
|Set sail||Started our journey by sea|
|Duplicate||To copy, To do it again|
|Voyage||Journey by sea, river or in space|
In July 1976 we started our journey by sea. We were four people. Myself, my wife Marry, my son Jonathan and my daughter Suzanne. My age was 37, my son was 6 years old and my daughter was 7 years old. We were trying to copy the round the world voyage made by Captain James Cook about 200 years ago. We started our journey from Plymouth in England.
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.
|In the wake of||Happening after , Because of,|
|Explorer||Traveller, One who seeks knowledge|
|Leisure time||Free time|
|honing our seafaring skills||Improving our skills of travel by sea|
|British water||Sea area of Britain|
My age is 37 years and I am a businessman. For a very long time me and my wife had a dream. We wanted to do the same voyage as earlier completed by the famous traveller James Cook. We had spent all our free time in improving our skill to travel by sea. We were doing practice in the sea area of Britain since last 16 years.
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.
|Hull||Outer body of a ship|
|Wooden hulled||Outer body made of wood|
|Fitting out||To make interiors for comfortable living|
|Rough weather||Unpleasant or difficult weather|
Name of our boat was Wavewalker. It was 23 meter long and its weight was 30 ton. The ship was built by people expert in building ships. We had installed many more things in the ship for a comfortable living. We had tested the ship in the most difficult and unpleasant weather.
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.
|The first leg||The first part|
We had planned a voyage of 105000 kilometers. The first part of this journey was from Britain to Cape Town situated along west coast of Africa. We did not face any trouble during this part of the journey.
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.
|Crewmen||Members of crew, Team members|
Before going in east direction from there we included Larry Vigil and Herb Seigler in our team. Larry was from America and Herb was from Switzerland. They would help us in managing the southern Indian Ocean which is the most difficult sea in the world.
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.
|Encounter||Experience, Confront, Face|
|Gale||Strong winds, Storm|
|Alarming||Causing worry, Giving warning|
|Mast||The vertical post in a ship|
Two days after starting from Cape Town, we started experiencing strong winds. Strong winds flowed continuously for next couple of weeks. I was not worried because of strong winds. Height of waves was a cause of worry. They were upto 15 meters high, as high as the main mast of our ship.
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.
|Despite||In spite of, Notwithstanding|
|Atrocious||Terrible, Miserable, Very bad|
|Reasoned||Thought, Hoped, Logically thought|
On December 25, we had travelled 3500 KM from Cape Town in the east direction. Although the weather was very bad, we celebrated Christmas on the ship with a Christmas tree. We thought and hoped that weather would change. Weather changed and became worse.
At dawn on January 2, the waves were gigantic. We were sailing with only a small storm jib and were still making eight knots.
|Storm jib||A small sail used during storm|
|Knot||Speed in see is represented in knots per hour|
In the morning of January 2, the waves were very huge. We had put up a small sail on the ship because winds were blowing fast. In spite of very small sail, we were moving at the speed of eight knots per hour. One knot per hour is equal to 1.85 KM per hour.
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.
|Screaming||Loud voice, Shout|
Whenever ship moved on top of a wave, we could see the endless area of sea. Because of waves it looked as if the whole see was moving towards our ship. The loud voice of wind and spray of water droplets was very painful to 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.
|Mooring rope||A rope used to tie a ship at the harbour|
|Stern||Back portion of ship|
|Life-raft||Life boat used in emergency|
|Lifline||A rope used to save life of a person|
|Oilskins||Heavy cloths made waterproof by oil|
|Life jacket||A jacket that keeps person afloat|
To reduce speed of the boat we removed the storm jib. We tied a heavy rope at the back of the ship. Then we tied everything twice. We did not want things to fall. We practised use of life boat. We attached lifelines in the ship to save ourselves from falling. We wore oilskins and life-jackets. Then we waited. They had prepared themselves for the worst situation.
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.
|Impending||About to happen, Nearing, Imminent|
|Disaster||Big problem, Calamity|
|Ominous silence||Inauspicious silence|
|Aft of ship||Front portion of ship|
The first indication of the upcoming problem came at about 6 PM. There was total and inauspicious silence. Wind stopped blowing and the sky became dark. Then we could hear a loud sound. A very big cloud was covering the front portion 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.
|Frightful||Terrible, Causing fear|
|Crest||Top portion of a wave|
When I looked at it, I understood that it was not a cloud but a very big wave. I had never seen such a big wave. I was afraid. The wave was perfectly vertical. It was about twice the height of other waves. Its top most portion started breaking itself. It was such a fearful sight.
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.
|Roar||Very loud voice|
|Thunder||Very loud roar|
|Deck||To horizontal surface of ship|
The sound of the wave increased to the level of a thunder. While the wave approached the ship, the front portion of the ship moved up. I thought the ship will sail over the wave. But suddenly there was a huge sound. The whole body of the ship was shaken.
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.
|Torrent||Huge quantity of water, Deluge|
|Overboard||At the higher level|
|Approaching||Coming near, Nearing|
A huge quantity of green and white water fell in the ship. My head struck violently against wheel of the ship. I could feel that I was being thrown to higher level of the ship. But I was sinking in water. The author was thrown into the sea by the force of wave of water. I felt I was about to die. I was becoming unconscious. I felt 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.
|Unexpectedly||Without any expectation|
|Popped up||Jumped up|
|Capsizing||Turning to its side, Sinking,|
|Sailed through air||Jumped in the air|
|Boom||Part of the ship where lifeboats are put|
Though I did not expect, my head came out of sea water. At a distance of some meters, the ship Wavewalker had turned to it side and was sinking. Its mast that used to be vertical had become almost horizontal. Then by the force of a wave the ship again became straight. My lifeline gave a jerk to me and I jumped in the air. I landed in the boom part of the ship.
The lifeline of the author was tied to the ship. When ship straightened, the life line was pulled towards the ship. Author got pulled into the air and landed in the ship.
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.
|Tossed||Threw in the air|
|Rag doll||Doll made of old cloths|
|Ribs||Bones around the chest|
|Hung on||Remained there|
Waves coming after the first wave tossed me in the deck. I was being tossed like a rag doll. My left rib got fractured. My mouth was filled with blood and broken teeth. Somehow I reached the wheel of the ship. I reached the back portion of the ship and remained there to face the next wave.
Water, Water, Everywhere. I could feel that the ship had water below, but I dared not abandon the wheel to investigate.
|Dare not||Did not have the courage|
|Investigate||To find out|
Everywhere in the ship there was water. I could understand that lower portions of ship were filled with water. But I did not have courage to leave the wheel and go there to find out.
Suddenly, the front hatch was thrown open and Mary appeared. “We’re sinking!” she screamed. “The decks are smashed; we’re full of water.”
Suddenly the door in front of me opened. I saw my wife Marry standing in the door. In a loud voice she told me that the ship was sinking. The floor of the ship was broken. The ship is 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.
|Scrambled||Crawled, Walked with difficulty|
|Starboard side||Right side of ship|
|Bulged inwards||Swollen towards inside|
|Sloshed||Moved in water|
I asked her to take control of the wheel of the ship. With difficulty I started walking towards the door. Larry and Herb were pumping the water out of ship. They were working to the best of their ability. Broken wood was hanging at different awkward angles. The right side of the ship was swollen inwards. Clothes, crockery etc were moving in the water. Water was quite deep in the ship.
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.
|Upper bunk||Upper bed|
I was swimming as well as crawling in the ship. I entered the cabin of my children. I asked then if they were all right. They were on the upper bed and replied that they were OK. My daughter Sue told me that she had a swollen part just above her eyes. I did not have time to bother about the swollen head.
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.
|Canvas||Type of cloth|
|Bashed||Broken, Beaten forcefully|
I took a hammer, some screws and canvas with me. With great difficulty I came to the main floor of the ship. The right side of the ship was broken by the force of first wave. Therefore because of every other wave water was entering into the ship. If I did not do some repairs, the ship 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.
|Gaping||Big, Huge, Wide|
Somehow I could stretch the canvas across the gap. Then I fixed the water proof door cover across the big holes. Some water still continued to go to the lower level of the ship. But most of the water that came on the floor was now going out over side of the ship.
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.
|Block up||Get chocked|
|Short-circuited||Type of electrical fault|
Our problems increased when hand pumps got chocked due to various material floating in water. The electric pumps developed faults so could not be operated. The level of water in the ship started rising alarmingly.
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.
I came back to the floor of the ship. I found that our two extra pumps had been thrown up there by the wave. Some other materials like sail, jib and boats were also lying there.
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.
|Chartroom||Room where maps are placed|
I recalled that we had one more electrical pump under the floor of our chartroom. I connected that pump to a pipe to pump water out of the ship. Thankfully that pump was working.
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.
|Dragged on||Continued for a longer period|
|Steering||Directing towards right way|
|Mayday calls||Emergency call|
Throughout the night we followed the routine of pumping of water, directing the ship in right way and giving signal on wireless radio. The night appeared to be a long night. We did not get any response to our emergency calls through the wireless radio. We were not surprised because we were in a remote part 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.”
Swelling on head of Sue had become a cause worry. Her eyes looked very big now. She told us that she had a cut on her arm. I asked her why she did not tell me before about her injuries. She replied that she did not want to bother me. Because I was trying to save life of all of us.
By morning on January 3, the pumps had the water level sufficiently under control for us to take two hours’ rest in rotation.
By the morning of 3rd January good quantity of water had been pumped out of ship. It was under control. So one by one, we took two hour rest.
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.
|Tremendous||Very big, Huge|
|Keel||Bottom most portion of a ship|
Even now there was a huge amount of leakage of water into the ship from below the level of water. I found out that the main frame of the ship was broken upto the bottom most portion of the ship
In fact, there was nothing holding up a whole section of the starboard hull except a few cupboard partitions.
|Whole section||Not broken|
|Hull||Main body of the ship|
Actually everything was broken at least to some extent in the right side of the ship. Only some of the partitions of cupboards made on the body of the ship were not broken.
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.
|Survived||Continued to be alive|
|Hold together||Remain together, Not to break|
The ship had not sunk during the 15 hours after the first wave had hit the ship. Thus we all were alive. I knew that the ship Wavewalker will break or sink before we could reach Australia. I checked maps. I calculated that couple of hundred kilometres from us there were two islands. These were in the east direction.
One of them, Ile Amsterdam, was a French scientific base. Our only hope was to reach these pinpricks in the vast ocean.
|Pinprick in the vast ocean||Very small in very big ocean|
Name of one of the islands was Ile Amsterdam. On this island France had established its study centre of science. Our hope of survival depended upon reaching this small island in the huge 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.
|Auxiliary||Additional, Extra, Supportive|
But we will not be able to raise our sail until the wind reduced and sea became calm. Our extra engines were damaged by the big wave that had hit our ship. Without raising the sail, our chance of reaching the island was very low.
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.
|Keep pace with||Maintain the speed,|
We have been pumping water continuously for 36 hours. Now it was 4th January. Only some centimeter depth of water was in the ship. Now we had to maintain speed of pumping out water to that was coming into the ship. All extra water had been pumped out.
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.
|Rigging||Rope used for raising sail|
|Pull apart||Break by pulling|
|Storm jib||A small sail|
Due to high speed of wind we could not install sail on the main mast. Because this would have put lot of pressure on the ropes that tie sail with outer body of the ship. Such pressure would have broken the outer body of the ship. So we raised a storm jib. I thought we had started moving in the direction of two islands.
Mary found some corned beef and cracker biscuits, and we ate our first meal in almost two days.
|Corned beef||Preserved and salted meat|
|Cracker biscuit||Baked bread|
My wife Marry found some salted meat and some baked bread. We ate our first food after about 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.
|Short lived||For a short period|
|Seas were getting higher||Waves were becoming bigger|
But the relief was for a short time only. At 4 PM, black clouds started coming from behind the ship. Within one hour the wind was once again blowing at the speed of 40 knots. The waves were becoming bigger and bigger.
The weather continued to deteriorate throughout the night, and by dawn on January 5, our situation was again desperate.
The weather continued to become bad during the night. By next morning our condition has once again become miserable.
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 went into the room to give emotional support to my kids my son Jon asked me if we were about to die. I tried to give him an assurance that we will come out of this bad situation. He further told me that the kids were not afraid of dying if we all were together. You, 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.
I did not know how to reply to my son. I came out of the room of my children. I was determined to fight the bad weather to the best my ability.
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.
|Heave to||To stop or reduce the speed|
|Improvise||Improve without pre-paln|
To protect the weak right side of the ship I decided to reduce speed of the ship. I moved the ship in such a way that the undamaged part of the front portion was facing waves. I used a thick nylon rope to tie two 22 litlre wax drums with it. I used this as an anchor to reduce the speed.
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.
That evening I and my wife Marry sat together. We were holding hands of each other. With every movement of ship more water was coming into the ship. We both felt that soon the ship will sink and we all will die.
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.
|Rode out||Came out|
|Sextant||An instrument to measure angle|
But our ship Wavewalker came out of the storm. By the morning of 6th January, speed of wind had reduced. I tried to determine our direction by measuring an angle through 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.
|Worked on||Considered, Took into consideration|
I went to the chartroom. I considered speed of wind, change of direction, movement of ship and direction of waves to calculate position of our ship. I calculated that we were in the ocean that had 150,000 square KM area. And we were trying to search an island that had an area of 65 square KM.
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.
|Joined me||Came near me, Came to me|
|Slit||Very narrow opening|
When I was doing such calculations, my daughter Sue came near me. She was suffering from lot of pain due to injury. Her head was now more swollen. She could open her eyes only slightly. Her eyes had become black. She had made a card. She gave me that card.
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.”
On the front of the card she had made photo of Marry and me. She had written words for us. These are some funny people. They always make people laugh. I also laughed a lot. Meaning that she was proud of her parents. Because they were fighting against a very bad situation.
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.
Inside the card a message was written. I love both of you. Through this card I want to thank you. Let us be hopeful that best will happen to us. Somehow we need to overcome this difficult situation. She was trying to motivate her parents.
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.
|Compass||An instrument to measure angle|
I checked my calculations. I checked them many times. We had lost our main compass. I was using the extra compass we had. But this compass was not accurate. It had an error because of it magnet.
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.
I made a provision for this error in my calculations. I also made an estimate about the effect of waves that move towards west in 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.
At about 2 PM I went to the main floor of the ship. I asked Larry to move the ship in the direction of 185 degree angle. If we were lucky we should be able to see the island by about 5 PM. Although I was not confident about it but I told him as if it was my strong opinion.
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.
|With heavy heart||With lot of sadness|
Then with lot of sadness in my heart, I went to lower floor of the ship. I climbed on my bed. Surprisingly I slept. I woke up at 6 PM. It had started becoming 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.
|Beat back||Go back|
I was certain that we did not see the island. With the sail available with us, it was not possible to go back. Because the winds were blowing in west direction.
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.
|Tousled head||Head having uncombed hair|
At that moment a head or face that had uncombed hair came to my bed. My son Jonathan asked me if he could give me a hug. Sue was also with him. I asked him why he wanted to give me a hug.
“Because you are the best daddy in the whole world — and the best captain,” my son replied.
“Not today, Jon, I’m afraid.”
My son told me that I was the best father in this whole world. I was the best captain of a ship in this world.
I replied that I was sorry. But today I am not the best.
“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.”
|Matter of fact||Unemotional, Practical|
|Battleship||War ship, Ship used in a war|
My daughter Sue said in an unemotional voice that I should feel that I am the best. You have found the island. I was surprised. They said together that the island was in front of us. It was looking like a big war ship.
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!
I quickly went to the deck. I looked at the clear outlines of Ile Amsterdam island. It was a big relief. It was a dull island having only rocks. It did not have many trees or plants. But it was the most beautiful island of the world.
We anchored offshore for the night, and the next morning all 28 inhabitants of the island cheered as they helped us ashore.
|Anchored||To stop ship in one position|
|Offshore||Away from the land|
|Ashore||On the land|
We stopped the ship in the sea at that location for the night. Next morning all the 28 residents of the island helped us to come on the land.
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.
|Direst||Most difficult, Very severe|
|Crucial hours||Critical time|
When I reached the land, I started appreciating Larry and Herbie. They remained happy and hopeful even under the very high level of stress. I also thought of Marry who had controlled wheel of the ship during very critical time.
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.
I thought most about a seven year old girl. She did not want us to bother about her head injury. Later, this injury required six minor operations. These were required to control repeated formation of blood clot between her skull and skin. I also thought a lot about a six year old boy who was not afraid to die.