My two friends and I had been camping for about five or six days. The weather was very bad with the rain, wind, and drizzle. We call that ‘ Brittany’ weather.
On the day of the experience, the sun was shining and the wind had calmed down. So we decided to take the boat out. I already was familiar with boating using a 420, 407, small catamaran, laser, caravelle, and small sailing dinghies. I had sailed on the Mediterranean sea, but not with my friends, and never in Brittany. The boat belonged to one of my friends who had been sailing several times in Brittany, especially during his studies at Lannion. We left from Trégastel with the trailer and the boat.
We were such a hurry and impatient to get out on the boat that we didn’t take time to consult the weather forecast. A warning of a ‘gust of wind’ had been announced, but we didn’t know anything about this.
My friend and I did some trials in the bay, to see how we were fitting together. We were then ‘sailing’ quietly by proceeding through a few maneuvers such as different speeds, close, crossings, cast off, jibing and other manuevers. As we had fun, we decided to leave the bay and go to tack off the coast.
Everything went well until the sea started to unsettle. Suddenly, the sky darkened and waves mounted with incredible speed. The sea became very choppy. Quickly we were taken between waves of several meters height. Our 420 boat literally surfed on the waves. My friend was at the helm, we couldn’t hold the boat steady anymore. On the top of a wave, we were hit by an enormous second wave from the side. It dragged the boat along like a cork. The my friend who was inside at the helm could stay on the boat, but since I was sitting outside, I was ejected from the boat. Very fast, we found ourselves several hundred meters away from each other. He was on the hull of the boat that had capsized. I, like a cork, was being ‘buffeted’ by the waves. My friend was wearing a wet suit, while I only was wearing jeans, baskets and a pullover. I had been able to grab a life jacket shortly before being ejected, but had not been wearing it. It was impossible for me to swim to my friend. I tried to keep my head out of the water, but the waves were ceaselessly crashing down on me. I didn’t see anything else but the sea. I didn’t know which way was north or south, or to the coast. Sometimes, when we both happened to be on top of the waves that separated us, I could see the boat and my friend. He was unable to right the boat.
I remained in freezing water, around 10°to 12°C, for more than an hour. I remember seeing pieces of the boat that went floating past me like a piece of the keel, rudder blade, and bailer. I tried to hold onto the pieces, but they hindered me staying afloat so I ended up letting them go. I remember having swallowed cups and cups of very salty water and then blackness.
My past was scrolling backwards, going from the present and back in time towards childhood. I saw the good and bad moments. They were very precise facts, a kind of sorting of the good and the bad, of good people and bad people, good and bad memories. I saw parents, friends, teachers, and memories of childhood.
I had a feeling of plenitude where I didn’t sense anything anymore. I was neither cold nor warm. I felt peaceful and quiet.
Then I saw a long, black tunnel with a luminous point at the very end. The light was growing bit by bit, while I advanced in this tunnel. The light turned into an intense light, radiating but not blinding. I felt good. Nothing happens. The light is beautiful, good, and soft.
I was saved by crab fishermen, who came along to secure us. I think that I came back to consciousness, when they reached me. I was unable to mount aboard their boat and to lift myself on the end piece they had been throwing to me. They passed a slip knot around my body to pull me aboard.
There I experienced a lot of fear. They were 3 sailors on the boat and yelled orders between themselves. Even on their fishing boat and with large motors, the swells were enormous. They were afraid of capsizing too. The waves were passing over the boat and it’s perilous maneuvers. Their goal was to save my friend. One of them said that it was too dangerous and that they should head towards the port to get back to Trégastel. The other two wanted to get my friend, no matter what. In the meantime the National Navy had been alerted and a helicopter was heading towards us, as well as a frigate of the National Navy.
The fishermen were able to make it to the capsized 410 with my exhausted friend clinging as hard as possible to the hull of the boat. They were sending him a rope with a buoy and told him to mount aboard. He refused as he didn’t want to abandon his boat.
I remember about hearing the sailors tell him ‘The boat we don’t care about. First men before material. You now let go of this and you come up immediately. This is an order!’ My friend complied, and the boat continued it’s perilous course towards the port. Even the boat of the fishermen was ‘surfing’ such was the height and the strength of the waves.
Then while approaching port, a boat called the Zodiac stopped us. The boys came aboard and the fishermen informed them about the situation. We disembarked on the Zodiac and made it to the coast where I was taken care of by the emergency services.
The Zodiac went away with my friend on board, heading towards the frigate of the National Navy, in order to file a report. We had been out of the zone of navigation for dinghies. The abandoned boat was a ‘capture of the sea’ for the Government.
I was ‘blue’ and in a state of hypothermia. They took care of me and I was ‘defrosted’ with survival blankets.
The father of a girlfriend was on vacation with her family at Tréburden. I was finally able to reach him to come pick me up. Since that time, he nicknamed me ‘The Captain.’
We had given all our money to the fishermen to thank them. It was only a few hundred Francs, as we were students and with little money. Yet, I never could thank them enough. I don’t know if they are still alive, since I was 21 at the time, but if they are reading this, they will remember, I’m sure.
Except for what I felt, I never talked to anybody about the experience until the beginning of 2016. It was during a casual discussion with a friend, that he questioned me and then told me, ‘You experienced an NDE!’ I replied, ‘So I’m not crazy? This isn’t an isolated case?’ The rare people to whom I told my experience since then, are all doubting and even in denial. They tell me that this was normal since I was in shock. They tell me that I don’t remember well anymore.
For me this is different. I have a feeling of extra-natural and extra-terrestrial, as the landscape does not exist except in science fiction movies. What comes closest to what I experienced would be the north lights. I will have to go see them, but the color was white so it’s not the northern lights that I saw. There was no wind; there was nothing.