As the Adonia sailed south towards Cuba on March 13, 2017, Bruce and I enjoyed a typical sea day for us: a workout in the gym, dining al fresco on the aft deck, attending lectures and workshops, and walking up on deck. It was a beautiful day, and the sea was like glass. It was so calm that I was able to do difficult yoga balance poses in the gym without so much as a wobble.
After attending an afternoon lecture about the history of Cuba, Bruce and I were ready for a walk in the fresh air; so, we made our way upstairs. As we walked past the card room and spa, we heard loud yelling in the hallway. A crowd gathered around a young, college-aged man who was yelling obscenities and sounding very incoherent. Just as I said to Bruce we needed to get security, a woman in the crowd said security had already been called. Just as two crew members from the pool area came in and also stated security was on the way, the extremely agitated passenger bolted, stumbling as he ran to the starboard side of the ship.
It was only moments after we continued out to the pool deck that the ship’s horn blasted, and the officer of the watch announced, “Man overboard! Man overboard!!” Crew members darted around us, grabbed life rings hanging from the railings, and tossed them overboard. We saw several flying into the sea.
I turned to Bruce and said, it’s HIM! That guy jumped!!
A flare was shot out in the direction of where the young man had jumped overboard from the spa area of the 9th deck into the sea below. The ship abruptly changed course to circle back; a rescue operation was underway.
As we watched from the walking track of the 10th deck, we could see life rings float away, orange smoke pouring out of the flare, and a head bobbing in the sea. Meanwhile, the crew lowered one of Adonia’s rescue boats and sped off with a pilot and two crew.
When their boat approached the bobbing head, the jumper started to swim away in the opposite direction! He was alive, and he survived the jump! From the 9th deck, the only way anybody could survive that far of a water landing would be to enter vertically. A flat landing would result in death, we speculated.
What amazed us is that the jumper didn’t want to be rescued. It took several attempts of circling back until the crew was finally able to get ahold of his shoulders and drag him into the boat. Then, one of the crew had to hold the agitated man down.
As the rescue boat returned to the ship, we were watching the scene unfold right under us. The rescued man was rambling incoherently and making it very difficult for the crew to transfer him to the ship.
When he was finally safe onboard, the passengers erupted in a loud applause. The rescue operation was a success!
Although a couple of the passengers who witnessed the entire event unfold from the very beginning told us the content of the young man’s rants, and other passengers provided details of his identity and behavior previously that day, I have omitted this information as a matter of privacy. In addition, I have whited out the man’s face in the photos.
I am proud to reveal, however, that our ship’s captain was a British woman, and the pilot of the rescue boat was also a woman. Congratulations to both of them and the entire crew of the Adonia for a job well done! If there was one consistent opinion we heard expressed from other passengers about the shocking event that unfolded during our (previously) peaceful day at sea was that the crew could not have done a more excellent job!
Later, we were informed by the captain that the jumper was being held in the medical center for observation, and he was sent to a hospital in Cuba the following day when the ship arrived in Santiago de Cuba. He and his parents did not return…
Next up: Santiago de Cuba: Cuba’s Second Largest City