Gemma Sheridan had set on a voyage with her friends in 2007, from their home town to Liverpool, then Panama Canal across the Atlantic and finally to the beautiful Hawaii.
The Voyage started with fun. However things started to take a turn after they passed the Panama Canal and reached the Pacific.
Huge storms damaged the boats electronics, washed away her friends overboard and left the boat with huge damages.
Gemma drifted for 17 days in the damaged boat without any electronics, only to be hit by another huge storm which left her Unconscious.
When she opened her eyes, she found herself in a deserted beach with the wreckage of her boat.
She recalls: I had a panic attack in the first few minutes. I was really disturbed, being all alone in an isolated place, away from home and no hope.
My first priority was to find water, since I was on water rations since 2 weeks. There were no fresh water pools, so I had to manage with a contraption which drew water away from the rock, one drop per minute.
Until it rained, it was my only source of water. It was both physically & mentally exhausting. I had to stay in a mock shelter for 2 weeks, the one I had created myself using debris from the shore.
My search for real shelter brought me to a large tree. Using a Giant Shell, I nibbled away the bark of the tree for 11 days to build a shelter.
If I had a machete, I would have done it in a few hours. I was so delighted when I managed to light a fire after about 4 weeks.
My only companions there were 8 feral goats; 3 adults and 5 kids. I used to see them occasionally.
I made a bow and an arrow, that seemed to be not fit enough, and my spear was also not so sharp. When the tools did not work, I made a Coral-type trap with spikes, which took me 7 days of work. This one also failed to work.
One day while walking around the island, I heard some bleats. Perhaps there was driftwood caught in the tree bottom, the horns of the goat eating the leaves were caught, and she panicked. It was a about 40 or 50 Kg of meat, massive. I tried to choke it, by squeezing its windpipe, but I was not successful.
Then I bashed it with the clam shell on its head. It took me about a quarter of an hour to kill it, and it was gruesome.
Few years later, things changed. I was physically tough. I used to do a series of exercises daily – chin ups on tree branch, press ups, squats using boulders, shuttle runs of 300 meters.
Though I was getting stronger, my mind was still lonely and I wandered whether I will ever be saved.
I had made a sign on the beach, about 10 feet high, but it was of no use. Now, I decided another way. I spent a few weeks in finding materials to build a huge sign in the Sand “SOS”.
I thought “Perhaps a plane finds my sign while flying from here”, though I had never spotted any plane all these years. I was still optimistic.
One morning, I woke up with a plane flying unusually low. I ran towards the beach, screaming and waving like a lunatic.
The plane flew over a few times before dropping a small package. It had fresh water, food, a radio and a small medical kit. I switched on the radio. It was a human voice.
We talked for a while, before I asked him “How did you find me?” He replied “A Kid in Minnesota found your SOS sign on Google Earth.”
I wasn’t even aware of what Google Earth was, but I feel indebted to them now!