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September 6, 2019

There is remarkably little action when sailing a small sailboat a relatively long distance. There’s always some sort of autopilot at the helm. The usual tasks — keeping watch, adjusting course and sails, preparing food — become routine. The crew, living days or weeks on a little patch with only a hundred square feet of standing area, if that, soon get over the newness of strangers. In the case where the crew are brought together for the delivery.

A storm and dismasting and loss of one of the two crew — told in the movie Adrift — turns that into a gripping survival story. That story likely was difficult to turn into a film, because of the lack of visual action that such survival entails. “Another day salvaging supplies, managing the boat, tending to one’s physical health, and sitting exhausted.” That wouldn’t much keep the audience. So I understand why the filmmakers introduced a story-telling conceit.

What struck me about the movie was that it portrays small boat sailing and the culture around it without causing me to break into laughter in every scene. Which is unusual. Most movies featuring that are far, far from the reality. There were several things, including the title, that caused me a shake or two of the head. That is inevitable. A film cannot be completely veridical. It still struck me as better in that regard than most any other I had seen. Fitting, given that it is based on a true story. I am glad to read that Tami Oldham still is sailing. Photo shows a brand new sailor on a small sailboat more than twice her age.

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