Disappointing for sailors - but still a great performance6/10
CONTAINS SPOILERS - Outstanding performance, beautifully underplayed, gripping. This works for me, mostly. It's great in its deliberate confinements. But, as a sailor, I am disappointed.
There are inconsistencies, but even more astounding is the lack of our man's seamanship. Pretending to be a seasoned sailor, he makes quite a fool of himself through horrible negligence: There is no "abandon ship bag", he carries an empty fresh water tank, he uses no sails or the engine during the storm, etc...
- He never wears a PFD/life vest, or a survival suit later on. Interesting survival tactics. Our man goes overboard quite often - and even without drowning!
- What an idiocy to hold your boat with one line while jumping on a container - no secured line, no PFD. Then instead of securing the line, he holds it with one hand while untying the sea anchor from the container (which was minutes ago strong enough to pull the container away). Then he walks both lines back to the boat as if they were chihuahuas. Argh! Honestly, he deserves to fall between boat and container and lose both lines due to rope burn...
- No lever for the manual bilge pump at hand? He carves a piece of wood (probably his flagpole) to be able to pump his vessel empty? Puhleeease.
- I understand his shaving ritual - a last trial to exert some control and composure before the sh%$t hits the fan. He seems to consider his options mostly pretty well, but how stupid is it to start switching sails when the storm is blowing already. The main sail - even when not up - seems to be reefed, but we don't see it really being used, and neither is it ever properly tightened to the boom. This costs him rightfully the mast later on.
- Instead of using a fully reefed mainsail and a storm jib (or the engine) to keep control of his vessel, he just gets sloshed around and can't maneuver at all. No wonder that he gets the big waves fully on the beam.
- He wears only one instead of two tether lines. No jack lines on deck or any click-in points close to the center line of the boat. He attaches himself to the lifelines! Another recipe for disaster. When you go overboard, you almost certainly hang under the water surface and have hardly a chance to get back aboard. Stoooopid. He could be happy if the stanchions broke and release him so that he could make it to the ladder on the stern. But that is probably tied up in a way that he can't release it from the water surface. Another reason to NOT make it.
- Instead of a life-sling system he has just an old horseshoe buoy.
- A hand-held radio would be very valuable when a ship comes right by. Much better than his cheap flares. BTW: Good try to clean his radio with fresh water, but why does he try to fix the antenna connection on the mast top AFTER his radio is toast?
- He jumps (!) without provisions (!) or PFD into his life raft, but leaves it connected, closes the zipper and tried to sleep. If the boat sank, we would be gone, too.
In some details I beg to differ from comments I have seen in other comments:
- A commenter complained that the boat had no self steering mechanism which would be necessary and crucial for a single handed ocean crossing. The boat definitely had one. You see the wind vane behind the stern pulpit, and you also see a line around the steering wheel axle. The vane breaks off after the first storm, the remnants are still visible.
- A commenter complained that the boat had no EPIRB, an "Emergency Position Indicating Beacon". Once activated, it sends out a distress signal per satellite to alert coast guards and passing ships of a disaster at sea. I thought I saw one mounted to the stern pulpit before the first storm. But maybe it was just a man-over-board marker.
- Someone said that there was no dodger to stay in the shade and being protected from spray. I thought I saw one - but it was definitely gone after the first storm.
Our man's radio skills are not exactly text book. The useless boat hook from Worst Marine, and the sextant being unwrapped in the life raft only, were nice details contributing to the characterization of our man. So even for sailors there were some nice hints of cutting corners, hubris and overconfidence. I assume the shortcomings in our man's seamanship were deliberately written into the script - otherwise we would have too much of a superman. If real development happens in this movie, it is probably his ruefulness that he never learned and practiced his stuff in time and went so poorly prepared out to sea.
Some situations get solved too quickly: Bringing down a furled head sail and pulling up a storm jib is a real bummer in a storm, especially alone. Jumping without live vest in a storm out of a life raft to right it? Easy peasy. Anyway, the movie showed sufficiently the exhaustion our man has to go through. Just his overboard experiences (twice from the boat, once from the life raft) are quite implausible. I nearly started laughing when he swam back underwater to his capsized boat and just held on in the cockpit until he was back up and in business.
At least he wore a knife at all times, tied to his pants. Good sailor! Still an interesting movie to see. But as movie with this realistic, not to say naturalistic approach it has certainly some flaws for sailors.