Yesterday I´ve watched a movie on amazon Prime about which I wanted to do a review – since this movie was very thought-provoking, I couldn´t finish and upload the this film critics yesterday so that you could have enjoyed your traditional NO FRILLS SAILING long Sunday´s read. Anyways, I subsequently deliver today and maybe this is an inspiration for you to watch it yourself.

Three couples on a boat

„Perdidos“ is a Portuguese movie made in 2017 on a tight budget. Nevertheless, picture quality and cinematography are quite nice (at least better than the screenshots for this article since this movie apparently hadn´t any PR budget left for high quality stills). The movie hasn´t been received very well and besides a very, very, very cheap and awful German dubbing I haven´t found any other languages. But you can enjoy the movie in OT with subtitles, the story is easy to comprehend anyway.

Good governance on board: Being a responsible skipper

This film is about utter failure of a boat´s skipper. The setting: A set of old friends meet after a seemingly long time aboard a nice sailing yacht owned by one of them. They all bring their little back stories (a couple with a baby and a failing marriage, the young-at-heart regretting their never realized love and such) and what looks like a nice reunion starts with some cracks below the surface.

Ready for a little dash out

Casting off on a calm sunny day the guys enjoy a little dash out. The boat is skippered by one of them, a wanna-be rich guy (who turns out later has lost all the money, but didn´t tell anyone). It´s a nice great day and all seem to have fun. The usual poking at each other, making fun and laughing takes place, as well as some deeper conversations when two of them gather together alone on the bow.

Leaving port on a sunny day

After having a couple of drinks and before returning the marina they decide to get some fun and refreshment by jumping into the clear blue sea. Be it peer pressure or just the longing for a cooldown, after some minutes all find themselves around the yacht, diving and swimming, having fun in a crystal clear deep-blue calm Atlantic. Well. And this is where the horror starts to set in …

From a small carelessness to big time catastrophe

The film did send some hints of what doesn´t go all to well aboard SOLITUDE (a name like a harbinger of what was to come). Within the frame of the camera, more and more bottles of beer do appear, the cockpit table is full of them. The skipper – the rich boy – cannot make his point as he is against jumping into the sea. Nobody listens to what he says, they jump one by one. To be “one of them” and not come up with the short straw, he eventually jumps as well.

Don´t drink and sail

The problem is: Nobody did lower the bathing ladder nor the platform. When the realization kicked it, the guys at first take it easy, but as it turns out, it is seemingly impossible to return aboard. Sheer panic, distress and despair sets in. The conflicts break out full fledged and a lot of screaming, accusing and hate bubbles up.

Imagine yourself in this situation

What a horrific notion, imagining to be swimming next to your boat – your home, where there´s all you need – and there is no way to get back on board! After blaming the skipper, who in turn rejects to take the blame as he rightfully states that he was against the bathing fun in the first place, they start working together to try and come back on board. I often had to think of the fact, that it is mostly just a small, tiny thing that leads to catastrophe. A realization I had to learn myself the hard way too.

An interesting experiment: How to return back on board without a ladder?

And this is what took me so long to process: I mean, I would never ever leave my boat for taking a swim without double and triple checking is the platform is lowered, the ladder is out and a floating line with a fander connected is in the water! I just wouldn´t do it. But thinking of the incident, it is an interesting thought experiment: How would you try and enter the boat otherwise?

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Holding on to a flag

The guys do have a number of things on them which they systematically try: A large floating crocodile, that didn’t work. Holding tight to a flag and trying to pull oneself up? A nice idea, but of course the flag rips apart and they tumble back into the water. Trying to “jump” out is futile, and it all costs so much energy, swimming, staying afloat. And don´t forget, they have drunk some alcohol, thirst kicks in with some quite soon.

Can he call for help?

A smartphone – which I have tested can remain operational even when under water – won´t get a connection, a party-motoryacht is bolting by at high speeds. Of course, the drunk people on the flybridge don´t notice the horror next to them. All not too unrealistic, I´d say. As a sailor myself this situation is pure nightmare fuel, of course, although I am personally sure that something like this would never happen to me in the first place, as I hate bathing and swimming and I am a strict non-alc skipper. But anyways, what would I do?

Last desperate trials …

It gets dark and night sets in. Desperation and resignation, trauma and lots of tears. There is nothing to grab a hold onto, nothing that keeps you warm, hydrated or allows for even a short period to rest. They just have to swim. All the time. Hour by hour. In a last attempt they undress all Bikinis and swimming trunks to throw it aboard, hoping it would wrap itself around a stanchion, but this also does not work.

A tragic end

In the end, one of them will make it and return on board. I mean, that´s what “perdidos” means – “lost”. I was surprised that – thinking non-stop while watching the film how I would do it – the strategy that I came up with worked. At least in the movie, the idea I had turned out to grant one of them access into the boat. I won´t spoil you here and go into further detail, but I was smiling a bit when it happened. Smiling, of course, is not what you will be when watching the movie yourself.

No hope?!

It´s a tragic, very tragic, film and the end is not a happy one. It´s a “silent” horror that takes place in your head, rather than showing blood (they could have incorporated sharks easily, which would have boosted the splatter factor but certainly not the quality) it´s all a matter of understanding. Just like in “Alien”, this film´s true horrific effect is yourself imagining to put you in this situation. Warm water, no storm, no sharks – just a calm, innocent blue Atlantic Ocean, but a vastness of horror.

My assessment of “Perdidos”, the movie

As I mentioned, the German dubbing was the cheapest I´ve ever heard, so I switched to Portuguese with subtitles. Much better. I really liked the cinematography and the way the film had been shot. Straight, easy camerawork. The bulk of the movie when the actors are swimming around the boat is filmed from their perspective: The camera is partially underwater, just like the jaws of the guys when swimming. You can literally taste the saltwater. I liked it!

“My” beloved Porto Santo

Another thing, although I know it´s a very personal thing, is the filming location: The island of Porto Santo, which I visited myself with a sailing yacht during my first yacht delivery to the Canary Islands some years ago. I stayed in exactly the same marina as shown there, so it was a nice surprise for me. It´s sad that the dubbing had been done so purely, this movie – simple, straight and gripping – is certainly worth a much better treatment by the company.

My overall assessment of “Perdidos” is 7 out of 10 points


You might also be interested in these related articles about safety:

Testing an ice-water survival suit

What makes a good skipper? Parts 1 and 2

Emergency drills: Smashing a catamaran escape window