Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg

"In 1993 my husband and I, along with our son and daughter, set out to live our dream-to sail around the world.  For almost three years we did exactly that.  But in 1995 my family and I were in a devastating collision that took away from me everything in the world I held dear."    Judith Sleavin

Ten Degrees of Reckoning is the heartbreaking story of Judith and Michael Sleavin and their two children Ben and Annie.  Just twenty miles from their final destination at sea, the Sleavin's sailboat, the Melinda Lee, was struck by a South Korean ship carrying thousands of pounds of lumber.   While the ship had all the necessary equipment to abide by International Maritime Law, the crew was inexperienced and chose not to use any of the instruments that could have prevented the devastation that they had caused to the Melinda Lee and to the Sleavin family.  Worse, the crew, knowing they had made contact with something in the water, failed to use search lights and assist in the rescue of the Sleavin family. 

Based on the impact of the two boats, it was determined that their son, Ben was killed instantly.  The remaining members of the family would climb aboard a partially inflated dingey, and cling to it desperately while awaiting a rescue that would never come.  After surviving the first night in the ocean, the dingey is capsized and the family members are scattered.  Annie drowns while waiting for the aid of her father, Michael.  Michael, suffering from the effects of hypothermia, is delusional as well as grief stricken by the loss of his two children.  When he reaches Annie's lifeless body, he kisses her goodbye, and after making eye contact with his wife, blows her a kiss and disappears below water.  Judith Sleavin, determined to survive, if only to tell the story of her family and the ship that caused the accident, finally makes it to shore after 46 hours at sea. 

You'll weep when you read how Judith knows, based on what is floating inside the cabin after the impact, that  her son is dead. You'll weep and feel the anger in Michael Sleavin when he realizes, with absolute certainty, that the ship is going to leave them behind.  You'll weep at the loss of little Annie, and the story of her mother, while helpless,  is forced to watch her daughter drift away in a red coat that stays visible for what seems like an eternity.  You'll also weep at the courage Judith shows during her recovery, and you'll be filled with hope as she regains her footing and becomes a permanent part of the people of the residents of Te Rawhiti Marae; the islanders that found her on the shores at Deep Water Cove.

The story is written by family friend, Hester Rumberg.  After the tragedy, Hester Rumberg and Judith Sleavin established the Sleavin Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting maritime safety throughout the world.  Juidth Sleavin divides her time between New Zealand and the United States.  She  designs glass-beaded jewelry that is currently showcased in New Zealand.  She also has an online business, Annie Rose Ltd.(  that sells equipment for glass artists. 


Sara said...

Sounds like a great book, but a real tear-jerker. What a tragic thing to happen to someone, to lose your whole family while waiting to be had to be a nightmare for Judith! As usual, great job at portraying another great book and keep the posts coming, Sabrina :)

gbeck said...

The book sounds really interesting and probably difficult to read, I'd probably be crying my eyes out! What a tragic story, it's amazing to hear what people can live through that makes them stronger.

Christine said...

I did this thing and it wouldn't take it. Anyway, I'll try again. Thanks for portraying the story so well. How devasting to have your dreams shattered in such a horrific way which will last in memory for a lifetime. Wayne always wants to go on a cruise and I always end up saying "NO WAY." He loves the ocean and sailing. The water is very powerful. As always you, Sabrina/Kate have explained and described this story that I will definitely have to read it. Sounds like the survivor has made something of her life though instead of wallowing in her grief. Good job!! Get Well soon!!!

Belinda Greenhalgh said...

What a story! I couldn't put the book down when I started reading until I started sobbing. I got up through the night to continue. What courage Judith had along with wonderful family, friends and a country which she now calls home.
thank you for sharing