I don’t know how I escaped being picked off. Maybe the sleeping bag I was still stuck within was enough of a camouflage. Maybe they mistook me to be one of the boxes that were drifting like me away from the wreckage.
I kept my head down, not wanting to draw attention to myself, until I saw the crowds from shore become people, individuals, scavenging the packages of medicines and surgical supplies. Then I freed myself from the sleeping bag and swam the final few yards to the beach, feeling the sand beneath my feet.
Turning I could see Luna Rossa captured by the Israeli naval vessels: it seemed mostly in one piece. Somewhere on board was my camera and the lower half of Rachel.
For a long time I could say nothing but just sit there, staring out to sea, watching the yacht be rescued while the bodies floated away. I kept hoping against hope that the others would have escaped to join me on the beach. Maybe Ali or his sister Doha, big man Michael, singing joker Samar, the watcher of Team NZ Isaac, the quiet farmer Ghazi or Gideon, surfing his way to shore.
But all I saw were bodies with holes and faces with vacant eyes.
What happened afterwards is a bit of a blur. I was looked after by people in Gaza whose names I’ve forgotten. Fed, clothed, housed and eventually helped to escape through the tunnels to Egypt.
Here my Aussie passport and credit card were enough to get me away, to fly off to London.
I checked the news feeds but there was nothing about Luna Rossa having gone missing, and several weeks later she appeared again complete with all her crew, so someone worked hard to hush things up, though damage might explain any performance loss.
When the racing started in July, many will have remembered Andrew Simpson, who lost his life for the America’s Cup.
But I will remember others. I will remember Michael, Isaac, Gideon, Doha, Samer, Ghazi, Ali and Rachel. Always Rachel, feeling the touch of her hand on my arm, that moment when I decided to join them.
And I remember their vision, their dream; to fly across the waves on a giant of a foiling wing-cat toward the dawn, to bring hope to the oppressed, to break the blockade and fight for a future of equality and freedom.
This is Buff Staysail, blockade-breaker, over and out.