Abandon Ship: Abandon your sinking ship with children

The tumultuous story of shipwrecked from Southern wind we described in detail in the monthly overview in Zeilen 10-2022. During the storm in Corsica (18 August), where winds of up to 225 kilometers per hour were measured, Dick Zuiderhoek (72), Karlijn Kwint (41) and her children Bram and Lotte had to abandon their sinking Oyster 68. Ship on the rocks, a child overboard and a life jacket that didn’t explode… Here is Bram’s (12) perspective and the lessons the family has learned from the traumatic events.

Southern wind.


“I remember waking up. It was about quarter to eight. Then I went to watch a movie on my mobile phone. It started to rain heavily and I tried to close the window but couldn’t. Then the boat started to rock a lot. Lotte (14) had also woken up. Then I stood in front of a cabinet with wine glasses and Lotte in front of the new freezer, to keep it closed so everything didn’t fall. Lotte asked if we were going to die, but I took her hand and said ‘no Lotte, we are not going to die.’ We put on a life jacket and Mom went to Mayday on the VHF. Through the windows I could see the rocks and I heard a loud bang. I said, ‘Mom, water is coming out of Lotte’s bathroom.’

“The boat was completely tilted on the rocks when we entered the cockpit. Dick wanted to tie me up for a round. Then a wave came and lifted the bow and the stern vibrated all over, causing me to fall into the water. After about ten seconds, Dick pulled me up. Lotte thinks it took a minute, but it was ten seconds. And my life jacket didn’t work. I held on to the rig and Dick said “swim”. I swam to the shore and climbed the rocks. A moment later Lotte emerged from the water. I was wearing my orange pants and Lotte had just woken up, so she was still wearing her nightgown. It was very cold. I was too surprised to be afraid.”

“We climbed over the side of the cliff to a little beach. I found a watermelon, a thermal sock, and my flip flops. They were right next to each other. And then we had to climb up and mom would climb up a route with an overhang. Impossible. Then we went uphill in another place, also very steep. Dick was the first to climb. Stone came over me. And half way we were at a part where we could change, and I asked if I could climb for Dick because I could go a little faster. We would sometimes hold each other’s feet or pull each other up a little.”

rescue of shipwrecks
The storage room, with in the background the slope that the family has climbed barefoot.

“Then I came to a rock where you would fall three meters if you stood on it. Dick didn’t see it and wanted to stand on it, but I said ‘don’t do it’ because you fall right away. Finally at the top we came to a dirt road and we waited. A gentleman came with a car and I heard the helicopter that was going to rescue the people from the other boat in the bay. Later at the institute, where we were taken care of, there were Belgian children who could speak a little Dutch, so that was nice.”

Dick, Lotte, Karlijn and Bram.

Bram is now back in the Netherlands and started in first grade. “I told some friends at school. Some thought it was a joke. But I said no, it’s my stepdad’s 21 meter boat and they understood.”

The rescue – 31 days later

The family is not there yet. They talk a lot about the events and have moments where they are mentally tough. In a summary, Dick said he shouted ‘jump’ to Bram when he had to swim to shore. Bram got really upset because Dick had said ‘swim’ and not ‘jump’. Karlijn: “You see that everyone stores it differently and has to treat it differently. We note that this experience has brought us much closer together. We have all helped each other: it gives us confidence. Lotte had also really recovered and helped, even during the shipwreck.”

Lotte and Bram both had a conversation with a youth worker. Lotte will also do an EMDR session. For Dick and Karlijn, the recovery of the boat was an important moment for the completion. Karlijn: “As long as the boat has not been salvaged, something will continue to run in the background. The rescue was necessary in order to continue.”

The remaining keel. This vessel had been purchased by the family in December 2021, had been completely refitted, had one week old sails on it and an engine with five hundred operating hours. Now everything is scrapped.
boat in truck
On the way to Corsica, Dick and Karlijn came across their ship in the container on the truck.


because Southern wind is September 18 finally saved: a total loss. Gone is the hope of finding the water maker, Dick’s swimming trunks or Karlijn’s aquamarine ring. From Corsica, Dick writes: “It looks even worse than we expected and is really something to swallow. The port side is completely gone and we can’t find anything more.” Now the boat, a proud lady of 68 feet a month ago, is being scrapped. Karlijn: “Very sad to see. All life has flowed out of the boat. This would be our home during a trip around the world.”

What has the family learned? Karlijn says: “Everyone needs to practice how to put on a life jacket so that you can also help each other. It lifelines must be on deck – even in calm weather.” It is important to know exactly where the important documents are. “To grab bag is vital,” emphasizes Dick. He is also working on his will, so even if Karlijn and Dick are not married, it is well organized for both.

Karlijn writes from the island: “The salvage companies had found the name tag that we received from Dick’s son. Pretty emotional and at the same time we’re glad we got this back. All that remains, but a beautiful symbol for us.”


At first Dick wondered again and again whether he could have prevented it. He likes that the insurance adjuster said he couldn’t do anything about it. They were doomed to hit the rocks, and other actions hadn’t affected it. Dick: “The expert said: Seamanship is when you four step down. I’ll just stick with that. I’ve got nothing else anyway.”

Now it is calm after the storm, as it was two hours after the disaster began on August 18. They are secretly looking for a new ship, although despite the insurance they have suffered heavy losses. Dick: “We can never buy a boat like this again.” Karlijn will only sail on a rental boat again. She is curious about what she would think if the ship were to capsize. And Bram wants to sail again, but not during a storm.

Want to read the comprehensive history of the shipwreck? Order the magazine via this link or buy it in the shop.

Image: (c) Dick Zuiderhoek and Karlijn Kwint

Tags: Corsica, shipwreck, storm Last modified: September 21, 2022

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