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Tami Oldham on the Details of Her Amazing Survival and Love Story

The moment Tami Oldham set sail with her fiancé Richard Sharp from Tahiti to San Diego, they did not even imagine they were about to sail into one of the worst hurricanes ever recorder. Their struggles against natural elements became a major motion picture, inspired by Tami’s book Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea. This survivor story is almost too overwhelming to be true.

The movie Adrift is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and stars Shailene Woodley as Oldham and Sam Claflin as Sharp. It is an inspiring true story of two free spirits whose fall in love, after which they struggle and battle against 40-foot waves and 140-knot winds. The thing they were fighting against was Hurricane Raymond, a disaster that caused great damage to the boat, breaking the mast and knocking the power. They could not send out a distress signal, or receive a message, meaning they were left to scramble for their life.

“I had sailing experience, and I had had some navigation experience, but I wasn’t a master navigator by any means,” said Oldham in an interview for “I knew how to use the sextant, the instrument, to navigate with the sun and the stars, but I never had any real survival training. I was never in the military or anything, so I just put one foot in front of the other and kept going. It was either get the boat moving or die. I chose to live.”
Her story is full of hope and inner resilience. With no chance for rescue, she had to call upon every atom of strength in order to survive.

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“One thing I know for certain is that everything changes, nothing stays the same, and it’s usually for the better. As I was starting to see small things, like getting my rig up and seeing progress on the chart, finding that I had like 25 gallons of water, these milestones, these little turning points, made me want to continue on.”

Following are her responses to the interviewer’s questions:

It was harder for Oldham to see the movie than to write the book. She continuously cried during the first screening. It was that overwhelming, and the emotions of sadness and joy came back, as well as everything from the gambits.

The movie happened when the screenwriters Aaron and Jordan Kandall approached her, previously reading the book. The project lasted for 5 years. She was excited, as she was very involved. She Skyped with the director Baltasar Kormakur and Shailene. The set was on Fiji.

When Tami and Shailene talked, he wanted to know about the relationship between Richard and her. She loves water and swimming but does not sail, so she wanted to know about different sailing terms and what she will use. She took sailing lessons as well.

When it comes to the things that were changed for the movie, Tami is very happy with the way it came to be. The story could be told in various ways, and she believes the way they went honors it with the survival and love elements. She mentioned how they managed to bring back Richard’s spirit, and that she could feel him the whole time.

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When asked about the voice she heard, she believes it was Richard’s. She talked to him constantly, and in the screenplay, he was always encouraging, but never gave her instructions. She loves how this element turned out. The voice is also what kept her going as she was extremely exhausted mentally. When an aircraft missed her signal flare, she thought it would be over, so things like that really broke her. His voice helped there immensely. The voice kept saying:“Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t give up because you’re almost there.”

She said she had collected water from a rainstorm, as it was key to survival. Although she had some in the tank, it was hard to get at first. She did not fish, and survived on peanut butter. The food was not a priority, so she did not think about eating raw fish unless she was starving.

Most of the after effects were due to the major head injury. Being knocked out for 27 hours, she was lucky. She also got a gash on her leg and many cuts. She was not able to read for five years after it, as head injuries can be complicated. People asked her about being able to navigate, but not read. She says that navigation is mathematics, and is not linear. She could do it, but not read.

She changed as a person and became more grateful for life and for meeting Richard. She does not take anyone for granted now. She enjoys people and their stories more. Generally, she kept her distance. But right now, Tami enjoys the relationship with each person in her life.

She went straight back to sailing and visited Richard’s family in London and went back to San Diego. Then she sailed in the South Pacific, as she loves sailing and could not wait to go at it again. She also received a captain’s license.

She has a husband, and they have children together. They have a boat, and live in an archipelago. The kids also love boats and enjoy visiting exotic locations.

After everything, she went back to Richard’s boat. Everything she owns was there, and it was extremely emotional. She wanted to pay for the boat to his family, but they did not want anything from her. She understands it is not her fault, but people grieve in different ways.

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She now receives a lot of emails. People are generally very inspired by her story and strength. She receives thanks from the young people she managed to help with her book and the movie, as they overcame obstacles thanks to her. She feels very privileged and is always ready to listen and help. Tami also does public speeches on boat shows, as well as book and movie promotions. The people ask very good questions and she feels great responding to them, as well as motivating and encouraging them.

The movie Adrift is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digitally. It comes with tons of compelling bonus features, deleted scenes and special featurette, which go deeper into the dangerous journey and the story of love, loss and survival.

Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]