Question 1: What did the narrator plan to do? What preparations did he make for it?
Answer: The narrator planned to go on a round-the-world sea voyage on the same pattern as Captain James Cook had done 200 years earlier. For the past 16 years, he and his wife had spent all their leisure time developing and improving their skills with work – related to travel on the sea.
Question 2: Give a brief description of the narrator’s boat. How had the narrator equipped and tested it?
Answer: The narrator’s boat was called ‘Wave-walker’. It was a beautiful 23 metre long, 30 ton wooden-hulled ship. It had been professionally built. They had spent months fitting it out and testing in the roughest weather they could find.
Question 3: How long did the narrator plan his voyage to last?
Answer: The narrator had planned his round the world journey to cover 105,000 kilometres in three years.
Question 4: When and with whom did the narrator begin his voyage?
Answer: The narrator began his sea voyage in July 1976. He had his wife Mary, six year old son Jonathan and seven year old daughter Suzanne with him. They set sail from Plymouth, England.
Question 5: Whom did the narrator employ and why? When did he do so?
Answer: The narrator employed two crewmen—American Larry Vigil and Swiss Herb Seigler in order to help them tackle the southern Indian Ocean which is known as one of the roughest seas of the world. He engaged them before leaving Cape Town.
Question 6: What happened on their second day out of Cape Town? What worried the narrator and why?
Answer: On their second day out of Cape Town, they began to face strong storms. These storms blew continuously for the next few weeks. He was worried about the waves. Their size was alarming. This rose up to 15 metres i.e., as high as their main mast.
Question 7: How did they celebrate the Christmas holidays?
Answer: They were 3,500 kilometres east of Cape Town on 25 December. The weather was very bad. Still they had a wonderful holiday—complete with a Christmas tree. New Year’s Day saw no improvement in weather.
Question 8:How did the weather change on January 2? How did they feel?
Answer: The weather changed for worse on January 2. Now the waves were gigantic. As the ship rose to the top of each wave, they saw endless enormous seas rolling towards them. The screaming of the wind and spray was painful to the ears.
Question 9: What efforts were made to face the rough weather?
Answer: In order to face the rough weather, the speed of the ship was slowed down. They dropped the storm jib. They lashed heavy mooring rope in a loop across the stem. Then they fastened together everything and went through their life-raft drill. They attached lifelines, put on waterproof clothes and life-jackets.
Question 10: What sort of wave hit the ship? How did the narrator react?
Answer: It was a mighty and huge wave. It appeared perfectly vertical. It was almost twice the height of the other waves. It had a very unpleasant breaking crest. The narrator had never seen such an enormous wave, so he was filled with horror.
Question 11: What was the impact of the torrent on the narrator and Wave walker?
Answer: A tremendous explosion shook the deck. The narrator’s head struck the wheel and he flew over board and was sinking below the waves. Unexpectedly his head came out of water. Wave walker was almost capsizing. Her masts were almost horizontal.
Question 12: How did the narrator manage to survive through the attacks of subsequent waves?
Answer: One of the waves threw the ship upright. The narrator was able to reach its main
boom. Subsequent waves tossed him around the deck like a rag doll. His left ribs cracked. His mouth was filled with blood and broken teeth. Somehow, he found the wheel, lined up the stem for the next wave and remained firm.
Question 13: How did the narrator, and the other members react to the presence of water in the ship?
Answer: The narrator could not leave the wheel to examine the damaged parts. Mary shouted that the decks were broken and they were sinking. Larry and Herb were pumping out water like madmen. Sue had a big bump over her eyes but the children said that they were all right.
Question 14: “I had no time to worry about bumped heads,” says the narrator. What problems do you think deserved his immediate attention?
Answer: The starboard side had been struck open. They were taking in more water with every wave breaking over them. If he did not make some repairs urgently, they would sink. The narrator managed to cover the gaping holes with canvas and waterproof hatch covers.
Question 15: What problems did the narrator face during the night of January 2, 1977?
Answer: The hand pumps started to block up with the debris floating around the cabins. The electric pump short circuited. The water level rose threateningly. The two spare hand pumps had been wrenched over board. The waves had also carried away the forestay sail, the jib, the dinghies and the main anchor from the deck.
Question 16: How did the narrator react to the problems? What does it reveal?
Answer: The narrator did not lose his calm or courage in the face of problems. He thought calmly. Then he remembered that they had another electric pump under the chart room floor. He found it in working order. They were not getting any reply to their distress radio signals. He was not surprised as they were in a remote comer of the world.
Question 17: “I didn’t want to worry you when you were trying to save us all,” said Sue. What has happened to her?
Answer: Sue’s head had a bump. It had swollen alarmingly. She had two enormous black eyes. She also had a deep cut on her arm. She did not bother her daddy about her injuries as he was busy in more important task.
Question 18: Why do you think the narrator searched for an island so eagerly?
Answer: The wave that hit Wavewalker had caused extensive damage. Nearly all the boat’s main frames had been smashed down to the keel. A whole section of the starboard hull was being held up by a few cupboard partitions. Wavewalker could not hold together long enough for them to reach Australia. So he searched for an island to repair the boat.
Question 19: Why could they not set any sail on the main mast on 4 January?
Answer: The hull of the ship had been damaged badly. Pressure on the ropes supporting the masts and sails would simply pull the damaged section of the hull apart. So they hoisted the storm jib and headed towards the islands.
Question 20: How did little Jonathan react to the desperate situation they found themselves in on 5 January?
Answer: Jonathan asked his daddy if they were going to die. The narrator tried to assure him that they would overcome the situation. Then little Jon declared bravely that he was not afraid of death provided they could all be together.
Question 21: How did the narrator respond to little Jon’s words? What do his actions reveal about his character?
Answer: He could not find proper words to respond. However, he felt inspired to fight the sea with everything he had. He decided to stop the ship and protect the weakened starboard side. He did so with an improvised anchor of heavy nylon ropes and two 22 litre plastic barrels of paraffin. This shows his resourcefulness and determination.
Question 22: When do you think, Mary and the narrator feel the end was near? Why did they feel so?
Answer: On the evening of 5 January 1977, Mary and narrator felt that the end was very near. They sat together holding hands. The movement of the ship brought in more and more water through the broken planks.
Question 23: “Optimism and courage help to tide over difficulties”. How did the narrator succeed in searching the small island?
Answer: The narrator was searching for a 65 kilometre wide island in an ocean of 150,000 kilometres. He worked optimistically on wind speeds, changes of course, drift and current. He calculated their position with the help of sextant also.
Question 24: How did Sue try to enliven the gloomy atmosphere?
Answer: Sue forgot her swollen head and blackened eyes and prepared a funny card. On the front it had caricatures of Mary and the narrator. She called them funny people who had made her laugh. There was a message also. It expressed her love, thanks and good wishes.
Question 25: The narrator says, “I told him with a conviction I did not feel.” What led him to believe so?
Answer: The narrator had lost his main compass. He was using a spare one. It had not been corrected for magnetic variation. He had to make allowance for this as well as for the influence of the westerly currents. Though he checked and rechecked his calculations, he was not sure. He depended on luck as well.
Question 26: What gloomy thoughts occurred to the narrator? What pleasant surprise was in store for him?
Answer: The narrator thought that they might have missed the island. They couldn’t hope to beat back into the westerly winds with the sail they had been left with. When Jonathan called him the best daddy in the world and the best captain and asked for a hug, he refused to do. When Sue remarked that he had found the island, he felt surprised.
Question 27: What did Sue tell her Daddy about the island? What did he notice himself?
Answer: Sue told her Daddy that the island was as big as a battleship and it was out there in front of them. The narrator gazed at its complete outline. It was a bare piece of volcano rock with little vegetation.
Question 28: Why do you think, did the narrator call lie Amsterdam ‘the most beautiful island in the world’?
Answer: Ile Amsterdam was a very small island made of volcanic rock. It had little vegetation and only 28 inhabitants. However, the island provided them safety from the huge waves of the sea as well as opportunity to repair the damaged ship.
Question 29: What did the narrator think of while landing at lie Amsterdam? Why?
Answer: He thought of his companions. Larry and Herb had remained cheerful and optimistic under the most serious tension. His wife Mary had stayed at the wheel during the crucial hours. His daughter Suzanne did not bother him about her head injury. His son Jonathan was not afraid to die.
Question 30: How can you say that Suzanne’s injuries were serious?
Answer: Suzanne’s head had a bump. It was quite swollen. Her blackened eyes narrowed to slits. Her head injury took six minor operations to remove a recurring blood clot between skin and skull. This shows that her injuries were serious.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1: Describe the harrowing experience of the narrator as mighty waves hit “Wave walker” in the southern Indian Ocean.
Answer: A mighty wave hit the stem of their ship ‘ Wave walker’ in the evening of 2nd January. A tremendous explosion shook the deck. A torrent of green and white water broke over the ship. The narrator’s head struck against the wheel. He was swept overboard. He was sinking below the waves and losing his consciousness. He accepted his approaching death. He felt quite peaceful.
Suddenly, his head appeared out of water. A few metres away, “Wavewalker ’ was turning over in water. Her masts were almost horizontal. Then a wave hurled her upright. The narrator’s lifeline jerked taut. He grabbed the guard rails and sailed through the air into Wavewalker’s main boom. Succeeding waves tossed him around the deck like a rag doll. His left ribs cracked. His mouth was filled with blood and broken teeth. Somehow, he found the wheel, lined up the stem for the next wave and held tightly.
Question 2: What damage did ‘Wavewalker’ suffer as a result of bad weather?
Answer: Mighty waves struck ‘Wavewalker’. The decks were smashed. Water was gushing in through holes and openings. The whole starboard side had bulged inwards. Clothes, crockery, charts, tins and toys moved around noisily in deep water.
Their hand pumps got blocked up with the debris floating around the cabins. The electric pump short circuited. Water level rose high. The two spare hand pumps had been wrenched overboard. Waves had also swept off the forestay sail, the jib, the dinghies and the main anchor.
There was a tremendous leak somewhere below the waterline. The boat’s main rib frames were smashed down to the keel. A whole section of the starboard hull was being held up by a few cupboard partitions only. The hull of the ship had been damaged so badly that the pressure of rigging could simply pull the damaged section of the hull apart. Wavewalker was so damaged that she could not hold together long enough to reach Australia.
Question 3: What efforts did the narrator make to save the ship and its passengers?
Answer: At first he slowed down the ship. He dropped the storm jib and lashed heavy mooring rope in a loop across the stem. They double fastened everything. They attached life lines, put on waterproof clothes and life jackets. After being hit by the first mighty wave, the narrator handed over the wheel to Mary. He stretched canvas and fastened waterproof hatch covers across the gaping holes in the starboard side. As the two hand pumps got blocked and electric pump short circuited, he found another electric pump and started it.
Then he checked his charts and started searching for an island—lie Amsterdam. He got a reading on the sextant. He worked on wind speeds, changes of course, drift and current. He calculated their position. He checked and rechecked his calculations. They had lost main compass. He made discount for magnetic variation in the spare one and also of the influence of the westerly currents. Then he asked Larry to steer a course of 185 degrees. They succeeded in reaching lie Amsterdam island after 4 hours.
Question 4: What impression do you form about the narrator on the basis of reading ‘We’re not Afraid to Die….If We can All be Together’?
Answer: The narrator, a 37 year old businessman was a lover of adventure. He had dreamt of going around the world sea voyage. He and his wife had spent all the leisure hours for 16 years developing and improving their skills about work or travel on sea. This shows his love for perfection and attention to details.
The narrator was practical in his approach. He engaged two crewmen to help them sail through the rough waters of the southern Indian Ocean. He had keen foresight. They made advance preparations to protect the ship and passengers against violent sea-storms. He did not lose hope, calm or courage in the face of difficulties. He had his priorities fixed. Repairing the damaged ship was essential. Everything else including injuries could wait. He was resourceful also. He managed to steer the course with the help of whatever had been left with them. His presence of mind helped them to – overcome troubles. He had a level head. He made exact calculations of their positions and that of the island. He fixed the course and speed. His self-confidence and practical knowledge made him a good captain.