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People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- December 20, 2010
- Vol. 74
- No. 23
Amanda Thorns: Nightmare at Sea
After Her Beloved Father Was Swept Overboard, Amanda Thorns Found the Will to Survive 12 Days Adrift in the Raging Atlantic
But her fears were well-founded. On Nov. 9, just three nights after they set sail on what was to be her first open-ocean journey with her father, Willie Thorns, and his longtime sailing buddy Dennis White, both 64, the dream vacation became a nightmare. A massive wave crashed into the 45-ft. ketch, decimating it and sweeping her father overboard. Amanda, who had been dozing in her bunk, dashed to the deck, where she found her father in the water, tangled in the rigging and begging for help. White, who had built the boat, struggled in vain alongside Amanda to pull him to safety. "I kept thinking, 'Any second now I'll be stronger than I've ever been, and I'm going to pull my dad up,'" says Thorns, who quit her job as a waitress in New Orleans to go on the trip. "But the strength just didn't come. And suddenly, he was gone."
Thorns' ordeal was just beginning: The engine was flooded, the communications gear had been swept away, and the boat had no emergency GPS transponder. They drifted for 12 days until a Greek oil tanker spotted them on Nov. 21. Days later, Thorns still grapples with an intense sense of loss and a deepened appreciation for the joys of life. "She's just trying to get back to normal," says her mother, Stephanie Wayland. At the heart of her mixed emotions is her father. "There's grief about times that we won't have together," says Amanda, "but joy that Dad died doing something he loved."
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