The film opens on a July 13, approximately 1700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straits, with an unnamed sailor (Redford) preparing to surrender his soul to the sea.
“I fought to the end,” he whispers in voiceover, “I’m not sure what that’s worth, but know that I did...”
We glide back in time eight days to find the same sailor midway through a voyage across the Indian Ocean.
His 39-foot yacht collides with a wayward metal container, which has been shed from a cargo vessel.
The yacht’s hull is breached but the captain patches up his craft and continues his journey.
Mother Nature is cruel though, and throws up a storm that batters the boat and leaves the sailor with dwindling food and water supplies.
As sharks circle the stricken vessel, the sailor must use celestial navigation to chart a course back to humanity via the nearby shipping lanes.
Cast adrift with Redford on this unforgettable journey, we pray for salvation, even when the last flicker of hope has been extinguished.
“I tried to be strong,” he tells us in voiceover.
We try to be too, but tears born of frustration eventually flow.