Survivor! I had listened, fascinated, to the story that Claudia Anghel had just related to me. I had first met her at a party on the busy Bangkok social scene – pre-Covid – a couple of years ago, and knew little of her hidden depths.
At the age of 19 Claudia told me she had travelled to Japan, via Romania, where she was born, and Canada. She was a small-boats enthusiast, and soon met some like-minded people in The Land of the Rising Sun, so a few of them got together, decided to get on a catamaran and go looking for adventure. They found it!
Only a few hours after they had cast off, and land had faded from view, the sky above them tuned ominously dark. The blackened clouds roiled, the wind picked up speed and force, and the waves got higher and higher as the minutes ticked by. Soon the decks were awash, and after every pitch and roll of the boat water was heading below as the boat bucked and plunged, flooding the hold.
It quickly became a rote reaction of the crew to frantically bail out the water after every surging ingress, to avoid sinking, and being sent to a watery grave as the next incoming torrent threatened to engulf them. They had been forced to tie themselves to any available stanchion to avoid being thrown from the ‘cat’ into the storm-driven sea.
The perfect storm they had found themselves at the centre of lasted for a week, and the mostly inexperienced sea voyagers remained sleepless and hungry for most of that time. There was barely time to eat, or do anything else except struggle to survive … it was all about traversing their way through the tempest and coming out safely the other side. Nothing else mattered. But eventually the power of the cyclone began to abate, and they breathed a collective sigh of relief as they sighted a coastline … they wearily limped towards a landing in their battered craft, and with their bruised bodies.
It was not to be a fairy-tale ending. Rather than being welcomed back to shore after their fight with the elements, they were greeted with suspicion rather than succour. They had arrived in waters patrolled and controlled by the US Navy. But after what they had been through – and overcome – the unwelcoming greeting they received was of little import to the battle-hardened crew. It does not surprise me that this adverse seafaring experience did not dissipate Claudia’s love of sailing, She currently has over 20 years’ experience behind her, and has taken to the oceans in everything from small dinghies to mega-yachts.