Ten Degrees of Reckoning

Ten Degrees of Reckoning

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In 1993, Judith and Michael Sleavin and their two children set out to live their dream: to circumnavigate the world on their sailboat Melinda Lee. But one night, a freighter off the coast of New Zealand altered its course by a mere ten degrees. And changed everything. After 44 hours in the water, with a back broken in several places and paralysed below the waist, Judith miraculously survived. Doctors would say later she suffered one of the worst cases of post-traumatic stress syndrome ever documented. News of the collision made headlines around the world but, distraught, Judith never talked to the press. Her body was broken and so was her soul. Twelve years later Judith turned to her best friend, Hester Rumberg, and asked her to write what was too painful for Judith. The result is a gripping, unbelievable yet true story of one family's love, of profound loss and of a remarkable woman who decided to live when others might have decided otherwise. It is an account of survival and a meditation on the strength of friendship and community. It is a universal tale of how any of our lives might be unexpectedly altered, how we might have to change what we hope for and how we can move forward in times of tragedy.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 153 x 230mm
  • Penguin Group (NZ)
  • Penguin Books (NZ)
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 0143011359
  • 9780143011354

Author information

Hester Rumberg is an experienced ocean sailor with thousands of nautical miles under her belt. When the tragedy befell the crew of the Melinda Lee, together with Judith Sleavin she established the Sleavin Family Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting maritime safety throughout the world. In her other life, Dr Rumberg is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial radiologist. Hester was, and will always be, the godmother of Annie Rose Sleavin.show more

Review Text

The harrowing story of a nautical hit-and-run accident off the coast of New Zealand that destroyed an American family.In 1993, Judith Sleavin, her husband Mike and their children, nine-year-old Ben and seven-year-old Annie, set out to sail around the world in their 47-foot sailboat. On the night of Nov. 24, 1995, a South Korean merchant ship crashed into the Melinda Lee and fled. Ben died immediately, Annie drowned later and a delirious Mike plunged suicidally to his death after her. Judith, the sole survivor, saw it all. In this understated but vivid account, her close friend Rumberg chronicles the collision, the deaths at sea, the 42 hours Judith spent clinging to an overturned dinghy in freezing waters and the painful years after she was rescued. Judith's back was broken and her skull fractured in the collision; for weeks in the hospital, "she was terrified that she was going to live, without her beloved family," writes Rumberg. The author describes Judith's successful subsequent efforts to manage her severe post-traumatic stress disorder, to make a new life for herself in New Zealand and to identify and bring to justice the owners of the vessel that struck her sailboat. The identified ship was a log carrier called the Pan Grace. Two of its officers received slaps on the wrist from the Korean Maritime Board, and the ship was back in the water. Judith sued the company that owned the Pan Grace in a U.S. civil court and used the settlement money to create a foundation dedicated to improving maritime safety, plagued by unenforceable regulations and loose governance of offshore waters. Rumberg shows how much the support of friends, especially in the sailing community, contributed to Judith's survival.Absorbing tale of a catastrophe at sea and its aftermath. (Kirkus Reviews)show more