SAN ANTONIO — Veteran Taylor Grieger sailed around Cape Horn, which is located in southern Chile’s Tierra Del Fuego archipelago. The area is notoriously known as the sailor’s graveyard.
“I think every sailor that’s sailed those waters will tell you, there’s no amount of sailing in the world that can prepare you for those seas because there’s nothing like it in the world,” said Grieger.
Grieger went on the journey with two of his friends. KENS 5 interviewed Grieger and one of his friends, Stephen O’Shea, in November 2018 before they left on the last leg of their journey. They have been back for a month now.
Grieger and O’Shea shared how they braved the bitter elements and faced a number of dangerous storms.
“We were underwater quite a bit. We turned that boat into a submarine more often than not,” said Grieger. “We were below deck just praying and you could hear the water rushing out of the deck above us.”
The two recalled how they fought for their lives when they tried to get out of the strait of Magellan. Grieger said they witnessed waves that were tall as buildings.
“7 story wall of water coming straight at you. The sound it makes is a heavy train. When it hits you, it explodes on your boat. You feel it in your bones when it hits you. Then, your whole boat flips,” he said. “In that instant, I was like: this could be the moment if this where we’re going to die, this it right now.”
They’re undertaking this journey to create a film "Hell or High Seas" to raise awareness about veteran suicides. The film will profile Grieger and his struggles with PTSD.
“I think getting out of the military is severely underplayed in American culture today,” said O’Shea. “A lot of guys I think they assume coming and asking for help or admitting to struggling is a sign of weakness. It’s not at all. It’s the strongest and the bravest thing that you can do.”
“There was an overwhelming feeling of like we have to get back to tell our story. All of us were like, the reason we’re out here is to wake people up of the epidemic on the stateside: veteran suicide,” said Grieger. "We were all on our knees praying to God. We really felt God out there, watching our backs."
Grieger and O'Shea said they hope the documentary will not only help veterans understand they’re not alone but show that storms will eventually end.
“Like that storm, after it cleared the 4th day we saw the sunrise 2:30 in the morning that peeked out through the clouds,” said Grieger. “You could see the sun coming up and you knew that the storm was over. It’s in those moments you really appreciated being alive. How many people ever get to feel something like that. That’s what we think every veteran should feel.”
They are working with two production companies, FreshFly Films and PowerHouse, to make the film. But they still need funding to get it finished. If you would like to help, contact the producers by clicking here.