We are Not Afraid to Die Summary by Gordon Cook & Alan East

The story is about the determination and togetherness of a family that defied the odds and torturous weather to achieve a nearly impossible feat. Their courage and love for each other helped them survive fearsome storm and desperation to survive and finish the journey they set out to complete.

Plot Summary of We are Not Afraid to Die

Globe Journey

The protagonist and his wife wanted to recapitulate the around the globe journey by Captain James Cook on his 200th anniversary. They set out to travel from English shores to the Australian ones in three years. 

They had built and tested a state of the art voyager named Wavewalker in order to achieve their goal. It was built with professional expertise and time tested technology.

Their Voyage

The voyage started in the fall with the family of four (the couple and their two kids). The first phase of the journey went unspectacularly and with ease as they reached Cape Town in South Africa. The tow expert sailors Seigler and Vigil were brought on board to maneuver through the treacherous Indian Ocean.

The 105,000 kilometre stretch till Cape Town was like the lull before the storm. However, they found no issues even beyond Cape Town up until 3,500 kilometres. After celebrating the New Year with joy and hope they hit their first bad weather spell on January 2, 1977.

Problems Began

The vessel was struck by a giant wave which knocked the protagonist overboard with the ship about to topple. However, another wave got the shop vertical and the narrator back on board. He suffered from injuries to his ribs.

This caused panic around the deck as they realized water had spilled into the lower reaches of the ship. Vigil and Seigler were ordered to release the water while Mary, the wife took over the steering wheel.

The protagonist worked hard to seal the possible entry holes for more water but to his dismay found the electric pumps damaged. The hand pumps were choked due to the debris from the impact. He managed to find one electric pumping working condition and used it to try and drain enough water.

They Suffered Injuries

There was no radio contact and they were out on their own. The pumping was relentless and continued for a day and a half. Meanwhile, Suzanne suffered from a head injury and it swelled up. She tried not to cause more panic and underplayed the pain to her father who was already distressed.

The team worked in shifts and units continuously. The Wavewalker had sustained irrevocable damage and it could not possibly reach Australia now. The think tank decided to find sore at a nearby scientific base and French island called Ile Amsterdam. 

More Problems

However, their troubles were far from over. The back engine was lost and the main mast was heavily damaged as well. They were directionless and staged out at the Ocean.

They managed to scour some food and ate for the first time in 48 hours. The next morning brought more troubled weather as the weary crew was hanging on the last few shreds of hope and optimism.

6-Year-Old Brave

Defeated by the situation, the narrator decided to console his son but he was astonished to see his 6-year-old as determined and brave as anyone on the ship.

This boosted the morale of the couple who was losing it fast. They were jolted into action by their fearless kids. Determined and strong-willed, they finally come out the dark skies. Opting to set the course in a direction possibly to the island, they decided to leave the things to fate. 


Their luck finally changed and they found Ile Amsterdam in a few hours only. They were greeted by a couple of dozens of its residents. The family and the entire crew stepped on land after what seems like an eternal battle for survival.

They were all heroes to each other but none more courageous than a 6-year old boy who defied death and a 7-year old girl who put hope before her own injury and pain. The whole family hugged each other and heaved a huge sigh of relief and gratitude.