The 7 Challenges

Danger on the High Seas

By Anne Archer

In 1984, I was working on a large 294-foot ocean-going ship. I had signed up to participate as a partner in a venture taking appropriate technology to developing countries. My husband and I went to live aboard the ship with Sarah, my five-year-old daughter.

On the day we sailed, little did I know that I would suddenly be forced to face my greatest fears. The experience felt surreal, as though I had suddenly stepped into someone else’s play.

Mysterious Inner Resources

The 7 challenges I faced in the first 48-hours at sea would awaken something deep within me—in preparation for telling a story beyond my wildest dreams. I had no idea how I might survive each test. As the hours progressed, I realized that my life, and that of my family, would depend on my ability to tap into mysterious inner resources.

Here is the ship as I saw it, pictured in Seattle, Washington. My cabin was small and dark with the smell of mildew all around. A message arrived—I was to go immediately up to the bridge. It’s the place where the ship’s captain and crew would normally steer and navigate the ship.

48 Hours of Unrelenting Distress and Danger

On the bridge, I saw the helm with the wheel and the controls, most of which were outdated. I wondered: Why was I called up here? And where was everyone? 

I was alone there except for an old man, the newly hired ship’s navigator. There was no captain of the vessel, no helmsmen to steer, just the old man and me.

Just then I heard a low rumble as the ship’s engines were fired up.

Then, the challenges began...

 

 

Grab the Ship’s Wheel

Suddenly the ship groaned and moved through the water. The diesel engines were running and we were heading away from the bay, pointed out to sea.

I had zero experience and was notoriously bad at anything mechanical. Yet we were moving forward, so I had to take action. Panicked, I grabbed the ship's wheel. What to do next was the first challenge I faced.

This was a very dangerous situation, but it was about to get much, much worse. 

No One Is Coming

The Five Blue Rings story is full of intrigue, deception and trickery. From the beginning, it was shocking to discover that I'd been abandoned and duped into this position by the ship’s owner. No one was coming to help me.

As the ship bobbed around erratically in the choppy waters, I felt myself turning green. I was seasick. With one hand on the wheel and one clinging to the rail, I was now both alone and ill. In this sluggish old ship, the trip from Seattle to Los Angeles would take a minimum of 5 to 6 days with no stops. I'd have to stand at the bridge the entire time, night and day, with only the old navigator as my guide.

This was only the beginning of the seven challenges. Many dangerous problems lay ahead. One of them would threaten our very lives.