It was only early afternoon when we jumped off the side of the boat into the black oblivion of heaving waters faintly lit by a glimmer of sunlight on the horizon. We left the boat, swimming towards the island, Kevin going first to test currents and check there weren't any submerged rocks, although he was struggling under the weight of Cassidy's waterproof backpack, which held our supplies, and James bringing up the rear with Cassidy, who had a deep cut on one of her arms.
Sarah seemed to be having difficulties, the bone in her ankle having snapped on the impact of the crash and therefore she was forced to swim with just one leg. Karissa was also having breathing problems - I think she swallowed a lot of seawater. Jim was urging them both along, encouraging them.
I confess I was selfish on that swim. I would've helped them, but I was too wrapped up in concentrating on myself and my own chances. I am not a very accomplished swimmer, especially not in poor light. I hate cold water, I hate deep water, and I hate rough water, and the ocean, unfortunately for me, was all of these things. Every breath was an effort, and only the knowledge of certain death kept me going; stroke after stroke, breath after breath, minute after minute.
Besides this, I am half-blind, and at that moment was thanking my lucky stars I had got my eyes lasered the week before camp and so did not have to worry about contact lenses; stroke after stroke, breath after breath, minute after minute.
Fully clothed, as all of us had been, we reached the beach bedraggled, wet and cold. Certainly not at our best. I had kicked off most of my clothes, them being too weighty in the water for comfort or my decidedly limited strength, and crawled up the beach half-naked, although at the time my embarrassment was non-existant.
So that's how we reached the beach. We huddled together in a group, taking comfort from each other's warmth, although our internal fires were all but extinguished, and we waited for the storm to end. Contrary to the seeming hours that chilled swim had taken, it was still afternoon when we huddled on the beach, but it was as dark as night, the clouds forming a forbidding blackout curtain, and soon enough we began to drift to sleep, exhausted in mind and body.