They train you for your worst nightmare. That’s what you sign up for when you join the military. No matter which branch, the goal of training is to prepare you for a unique set of horrors. I joined the Navy. I left the Navy. Now here I was, in the midst of one of the terrors my profession had prepared me for: a shipwreck.
It could have been described as a paradise if we had been there by choice. The sky was blue and cloudless, the sand warm beneath our feet. I could feel the heat through the leather of my shoes. I had been at the helm, but others had been relaxing. By some miracle, we had managed to pull all of the crew and passengers who had been on the yacht out of the water. Some did not have shoes. Some were barely clothed. Nevertheless, everyone was alive and accounted for. Given our course before the incident, I knew that we were somewhere in the sea between Barbados and Saint Lucia. Beyond the beach was a dense forest. A full survey would tell us more, but all signs indicated that it was a small uninhabited island.
I gathered the crew once we had settled the passengers. We shared our recollections of the hour or so before the incident, but we could not figure out what happened. Everything had been normal, and then all of a sudden all of our instruments started failing and we were sinking. No one had an explanation or a clue about the cause of the incident. There was no use discussing a ship that was now at the bottom of the sea. I told everyone to rest and headed further up the beach with my first officer. I wanted to speak to her and come up with some sort of plan. We also needed to find shelter for the night. We might get lucky and find some of our equipment and supplies washed up on the beach.
We walked and talked for a while, tracing the coast of the island. About twenty minutes from where we had left the others, we found some caves. In theory, caves were a good option for shelter, but these required some climbing to get to and I was worried that the tired and traumatised group we had left behind would not be in the mood for rock-climbing. We almost decided to look for an alternative, but then I saw something shining from inside the cave. We climbed up and got closer. A few feet from the entrance of the cave, we saw huge boxes. The kind we used to load and store items on the boat. On closer inspection, each box had a name on it. The first name, surprisingly, was one of the passengers, the next was a member of my crew. All twenty-five boxes bore the name of either a crew member or a passenger. The one with my name had a white sheet of paper tucked into the handle. I unfolded it and saw a single-sentence short message addressed to me. It read:
Welcome Captain Jimoh, we have been expecting you.