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On February 28, 2009, Nick Schuyler, a 24-year-old personal trainer, left for a deep-sea fishing trip with three friends: NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith, and Will Bleakley, his best friend, who once played football for the University of South Florida. It was supposed to be a day of fun and relaxation aboard Cooper’s 21-foot boat, which anchored 70 miles west of Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico. The friends were out to catch some amberjack and grouper and maybe a few sharks. They planned to drink a few beers, have some laughs, and get home before an approaching cold front hit.
As the seas began to swell and the winds picked up in the late afternoon, they packed their gear and decided to head to shore. One problem. The anchor was stuck. Inexperienced boaters, they made what would become a fatal mistake, tying the anchor rope to the stern of the boat and hitting the throttle. The anchor did not yank free. Instead, the stern sank and filled with water, and the boat capsized. And so the nightmare began.
The men had to forage for life jackets beneath the boat. They had no emergency beacon to alert authorities, and their cell phones didn¹t work so far out in the Gulf. With no food or water, the men clung to the overturned hull through the night as the seas roughened and the cloudy sky became inky black. They were continuously tossed from the boat by brutal waves, and sometimes found each other only by swimming toward their friends’ voices. During the rare lull, they would pray and talk about the ones they loved, what they would’ve done differently with their lives, and what they would do once they returned home. As the hours passed, the four friends, who had grown up as athletes, worked as a team in their desperate bid to survive. They battled hypothermia, hallucinations, hunger, dehydration, and huge waves.
A witness to incredible heroism and unspeakable tragedy, Nick remained at sea for more than 40 hours, holding on, hoping against hope and clinging to the thought that he couldn’t bear to have his mother attend his funeral. Not Without Hope is much more than a story of survival. It is an inspiring story of friendship, resolve, and courage.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Barb on 03-06-10
Excellent book about an incredible quest to stay alive after a terrible boating accident. I really felt like I was there as these four football players struggled to stay alive in amazingly horrible conditions. Highly recommended.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Anonymous User on 06-28-10
Glad I listened. Recommend
As a winter Floridian who lives just a half hour south of where these men launched on Feb 28, 2009, I remember well the local news story that became national headlines. I also recall the weather. Cold -windy- nasty! I recall telling my wife those nights, " I can't imagine being in the water on a night like tonight". I never dreamed there would be any survivors. That makes Nick Schyler's story all the more miraculous to me. I felt that cold front come through on land, I cannot imagine what it would have been like in the Gulf.
The narrative was a bit long and repetitious in places but then so were those 40 hours I suppose. I enjoyed the behind the scenes portions of the book and would have enjoyed expansion of the story from those perspectives. All in all a well written book, with excellent narration, looking past a couple of small mispronunciations of local names.