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Newlywed Alums Aboard Ship That Sinks in Antarctica

Ioana Patringenaru | December 3, 2007

M.S. Explorer (Photo / Torrey Trust and Trevor Takayama)
The Explorer lies on its side in Antarctic waters.

“Abandon ship! Abandon ship!” The captain’s voice rang out loudly over the public address system of the M.S. Explorer, where UCSD alumni Torrey Trust and Trevor Takayama were enjoying the end of a long honeymoon.

It was the day after Thanksgiving. The ship had hit an iceberg in the Antarctic and was sinking slowly. Trust and Takayama soon boarded a life boat, where they huddled for warmth and waited for rescue. It took about six hours for another cruise ship to pick them up, along with 152 other passengers and crew members. They arrived back to San Diego Tuesday.

“It’s really good to be back,” Takayama said in a phone interview the following day.

Trust and Takayama’s ordeal has turned them into instant celebrities. They have appeared on CNN, Good Morning America and on ABC News’ evening news broadcast, as well as on several local TV stations. The North County Times also wrote a lengthy piece about their adventures. Trust, who was a resident advisor at Thurgood Marshall College at UCSD, said she heard from many of her former residents. “I saw you on TV,” they would say.

In Antarctica
Trevor Takayama and Torrey Trust pose with penguins during their honeymoon.

“It was crazy,” Trust commented, when recalling the whole ordeal.

She and Takayama had embarked on a lengthy honeymoon shortly after their wedding June 11 at La Jolla Cove. They flew to Cancun, where Trust’s sister has a time-share unit. Trust had always wanted to visit Costa Rica, so they headed there next. In the end, the newlyweds rode buses from Mexico all the way down to Panama City. Somehow, they also found themselves on a cruise headed for the Galapagos Islands. They came back to San Diego at the end of September.

Torrey Trust
Trust on the Explorer.

Then, in late October, they went abroad again, this time visiting South America, from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil all the way down to Ushuaia, which claims to be the world’s southernmost city, at Argentina’s tip. There, they boarded the Explorer Nov. 11, for a cruise to the Antarctic set to end Nov. 29.

“It was a crazy dream and Trevor was, like, sure, let’s do it,” Trust said of their extended honeymoon.

Until they hit that iceberg, the cruise had been amazing, she added. Passengers went to shore every day, visiting different islands and frolicking with what seemed like a million penguins, she recalls. She and Takayama went on hikes and rode zodiac boats around glaciers. She still remembers admiring an albatross with a nine-foot wingspan.

During their cruise, Trust and Takayama caught what would turn out to be a really lucky break. They had reserved a room on the Explorer’s bottom floor — the cheapest available. But they received an upgrade and moved to a room several floors above. So when the boat started sinking, they were able to go back to their cabin and grab their three photo cameras and a video camera. The passengers who had been staying in their old room woke up with water up to their knees and weren’t able to salvage anything, Trust said.

Putting on Survival Suits
Explorer passengers put on survival suits to leave the cruise ship that rescued them.

Up to that point, it had been a pleasant day on the Explorer. Trust and Takayama had enjoyed the sunset. But a few hours later, a loud, obnoxious alarm rang in their cabin. They headed for the ship’s lecture hall, where they waited to hear from the captain with other passengers and crew members. Suddenly, the captain’s voice rang out over the public announcement system: “Abandon ship! Abandon ship!”

“It was so much of a shock, I didn’t believe it was happening,” Trust said.

They were able to grab their cameras and headed for the lifeboats. Outside, the temperature hovered around 20 and the wind was much colder. There weren’t enough thermal blankets to go around, so Trust and Takayama hugged each other to keep warm. She was wearing about seven layers of clothes, she said. Still, she soon started shaking uncontrollably and lost feeling in her fingers and toes.

Takayama became seasick. Trust curled up on the bottom of the boat and wrapped herself in her life jacket. She started breathing into the jacket, hoping her breath would help keep her warm. By the time rescue boats showed up, Trust didn’t even want to lift her head to see them. Takayama managed to convince her to get up. They were the last ones to leave their life boat.

Torrey Trust and Trevor Takayama
Trust and Takayama on the C-130 Hercules plane carrying them to Chile.

Weather conditions were bad and the Explorer’s passengers waited about eight hours on the cruise ship that rescued them before going to shore. They spent the night at a Chilean Air Force base on Antarctica, before flying to Chile on a C-130 Hercules cargo plane the next day.

By Sunday, Trust and Takayama landed in Chile’s capital, Santiago, where the U.S. consulate put them up in a hotel, handed them $200 to buy clothes and arranged to fly them home. Looking back, Trust said the whole episode feels unreal. “I feel like I watched another ship go down,” she said.

Trust and Takayama are now looking for jobs. She graduated this spring with a degree in visual arts and media. He graduated in 2003 in biochemistry and worked for Nanogen, Inc. before quitting to go on their extended honeymoon. They would like to move to La Jolla, Trust said.

“I really appreciate the feeling that there is no place like home,” she added.

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