Waves tearing across her deck, the yacht Amphitrite hung on a sand bar off the Carolina coast. Her captain and owner, 40-year-old Samuel Luttrell II, ordered all hands into their 16-ft. lifeboat. With his wife Kathleen, their twelve-year-old son Samuel III and six crew members, he put out into the darkening sea. Just before they cast off, someone grabbed two metal ice trays from the yacht and carried them into the boat.

The ice cubes turned out to be the only source of water they had. The inexperienced crewmen could not row back to the Amphitrite. Neither could they make...

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