Q & A: Lochlin Reidy

Lochlin Reidy talks about the new book Overboard!, which details his rescue at sea after a harrowing 28-hour struggle to stay alive in the Atlantic.


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How has this experience changed your life? I assume it has, or has it?

It hasn’t pushed me away from the ocean. I’d go back in a minute! I’d sail to Bermuda, I’d sail to Europe, I’d sail anywhere because the system worked. It’s expected that when you go out in a boat in an environment like that, sometimes bad things happen, you just have to be prepared for it. So that part didn’t really change anything.

I find now, however, that I don’t tend to be as aggravated by little things as much as I was previously. I guess I can see something happening in front of me and say, ‘Uh, in the grand scheme of things, this is not that important.’ If something that looks like an absolute catastrophe is unfolding in front of you, whether it be personal or in business or even on the golf course, it’s really not a big deal. Don’t worry about it. And of course, I can feel very comfortable saying that to people, and they look at me and say, ‘Well this is the most important thing happening to me today and how can you be so cavalier about it?’ I just don’t let things bother me anywhere near as much as they did.

I think that’s probably the thing that has changed. I can’t say that I’m any more religious than I was before. I can’t say that at all. I can say that I go more with the flow where as in the past, I might more argue a point where as now it’s just not worth it.

Do you get tired going over it again and again?

No, no not at all! I really think that through my experience, even on one-on-one basis like we’re talking now, you will probably come away with something from this that might benefit you. Maybe not, but in telling this story, I always find that, one, people are very interested, and two, they’re amazed and they’re like, ‘How could you just put the negative of it aside? How do you do that?’ And maybe they get a little something out of it.

I truly do hope that, especially after people read the book, that they get one thread of something that is going to help them. Some aspect of it ... like one piece of equipment that if I went out there again on the boat that I would keep in my pocket is a pair of swim goggles. Because after about four or so in the ocean, my eyes became so sore from the saltwater and the thrashing around in the saltwater rushing over them, that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. If I had a pair of tinted swim goggles, the sun wouldn’t have bothered my eyes as much. It would’ve helped me. A little thing like that.

How many people that you come in contact with are going to get washed overboard? Maybe nobody, but if they’re thinking about having swim goggles, maybe they’re thinking that they need to have them in their yellow foul-weather gear as opposed to the blue thing they have. Maybe they’ll handle themselves a little bit differently, which I hope will benefit them.

That’s really the mode I’m in. It was great to tell it initially because it’s such a dramatic story—I’m not trying to blow my own horn here, but you just don’t meet that many people who have been through this. Now I’m in the mode that if there’s an educational aspect to this, then it doesn’t bother me a bit to re-tell it. I really enjoy it.

Do you still go out on the water?

I still do, although not nearly as much as I’d like to. My daughter now is a senior in high school and very active in sports. She’s a competitive swimmer, water polo player, and we’ve been actively over the last year-and-a-half seeing schools and getting her prepared to go off to college. I’ve been trying to get in the last little bit of her athletic experience as much as I can, so I haven’t really had a lot of time out. I’ve been on the Sound a few times. I’ve not been on a trip to Bermuda since, but I would go.

When the crew gets together we talk about, ‘Well, would you go back?’ And I say, ‘Absolutely.’ And they say, ‘We would, too. You think we ought to do that?’ And we all say, ‘Yeah, but it’s a big endeavor.’ It’s a huge planning process and you have to have pretty well-provisioned boat to do that.’ Tom Tighe, the captain of the Almeisan, he had that system down pat. He actually taught groups how to prepare for an ocean passage. I found a long, long time ago in my sailing experience that it’s better to know someone who has a boat than to have one yourself. It can be expensive. The old analogy is that having a boat is like pouring money into a hole in the water, and that’s not too far from wrong.

But yes, I have been out, but not nearly as much in the past. But I think that’s just due to scheduling.

Q & A: Lochlin Reidy

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