We’re Not Afraid to Die: MBOSE Class 11 English Core notes

We're Not Afraid To Die...if We Can All Be Together AHSEC class 11 solutions
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Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF of Class 11 English Core textbook (Resonance) chapter ‘We’re Not Afraid to Die…If We Can All Be Together’ by Gordon Cook and Alan East, which is part of the syllabus of students studying under MBOSE (Meghalaya Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed. Please select the chapter you need and proceed.

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In July 1976, Gordon Cook, his wife Mary, their children Jonathan, 6, and Suzanne, 7, set sail from Plymouth, England, on their boat, Wavewalker. Their aim was to replicate Captain James Cook’s historic round-the-world voyage. After years of preparation and honing their sailing skills, they embarked on a three-year, 105,000-kilometre journey.

The initial part of the voyage went smoothly as they sailed down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town. There, they were joined by two crewmen, Larry Vigil and Herb Seigler, to help navigate the treacherous southern Indian Ocean. They faced continuous gales, with waves reaching up to 15 meters. Despite these challenges, the family celebrated Christmas with a tree and presents.

On January 2, disaster struck. A monstrous wave, nearly twice the height of others, capsized the Wavewalker, causing severe damage. Gordon was thrown overboard but managed to get back on the boat. The ship was leaking badly, and the crew worked tirelessly to pump out water and make temporary repairs.

Mary and the children showed remarkable bravery. Despite a head injury, Suzanne did not complain to avoid worrying her parents. The crew’s relentless efforts to keep the boat afloat included managing a makeshift pump and steering through relentless storms.

On January 4, the boat was still taking in water, but the situation became somewhat manageable. They set a course for two small islands, one of which was Ile Amsterdam, a French scientific base. The journey remained perilous, with severe weather and high seas.

Finally, on January 6, they spotted Ile Amsterdam. The island, a bleak volcanic rock, was a welcome sight. The Wavewalker’s crew and the Cook family were greeted warmly by the island’s inhabitants. The journey had tested their endurance and brought out their resilience and unity. Despite the severe damage and injuries, the family’s spirit and teamwork ensured their survival and eventual rescue.

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Textual questions and answers

Understanding the Text

Complete the table with facts from the story.

  • Month and year of the voyage: July 1976
  • Name of the boat: Wavewalker
  • Names of the narrator’s family members on board: Mary (wife), Jonathan (son), Suzanne (daughter)
  • Departure from: Plymouth, England
  • Age of the father: 37 years old
  • Number of years spent in preparing for the voyage: 16 years
  • Names of the crewmen: Larry Vigil and Herb Seigler
  • Estimated time to complete the voyage: Three years
  • Distance to be covered: 105,000 kilometres

Match the following

  • jib: small triangular sail near the front of a boat
  • capsize: boat turning upside down
  • stern: back part of a ship
  • knot: unit of speed
  • keel: a piece of wood or metal along the bottom of a boat to balance it
  • gale: a very strong wind
  • starboard: right side of the ship
  • Mayday: a radio signal which people on a ship or plane use to call for help in distress
  • deck: part of a ship you walk on

Answer these questions briefly

1. What does ‘professionally built’ mean?

Answer: It means that the boat was built by skilled and experienced professionals who specialize in boat building.

2. How did the family test the ship?

Answer: They spent months testing it in the roughest weather they could find.

3. Did the first lap of the voyage have any problems?

Answer: No, the first lap of the voyage passed pleasantly.

4. Why did they take two crewmen before heading east?

Answer: They took two crewmen to help tackle the southern Indian Ocean, one of the world’s roughest seas.

5. How did the family react to the gales?

Answer: Gales did not worry them, but the size of the waves was alarming.

6. How did the family celebrate Christmas?

Answer: They celebrated with a Christmas tree despite the atrocious weather.

7. Was it a happy New Year’s day for this family? Why?

Answer: No, it was not a happy New Year’s day because the weather did not improve and changed for the worse.

8. What was the disaster that struck them on the 2nd of January?

Answer: The disaster was an enormous wave that struck the ship, causing significant damage and injuries.

9. What had happened to Sue?

Answer: Sue had a big bump above her eyes, her head hurt, and later, her head had swollen alarmingly with two enormous black eyes and a deep cut on her arm.

10. What was the situation over the next few days? What did everyone do to keep the boat from capsizing?

Answer: The boat was taking on water because of the damage. Everyone pumped water out, steered the boat, and worked the radio to send out Mayday calls.

11. What news greeted the narrator on the 6th of January?

Answer: The news was that they had sighted Ile Amsterdam, a small island.

12. Why did the narrator feel that Ile Amsterdam was the ‘most beautiful island in the world’?

Answer: He felt that Ile Amsterdam was the ‘most beautiful island in the world’ because it was the only place that could save them from their desperate situation.

Answer these questions in context

1. ‘The first indication of impending disaster came at about 6 pm, with an ominous silence.’

a. Why was the silence ominous?

Answer: The silence was ominous because it indicated that something terrible was about to happen.

b. What does ‘impending disaster’ mean-disaster about to occur or disaster that has already occurred?

Answer: ‘Impending disaster’ means a disaster that is about to occur.

c. Did it occur finally? What was it?

Answer: Yes, it occurred finally. A gigantic wave, almost twice the height of other waves, struck the ship with a tremendous explosion.

2. ‘Are you all right?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ they answered. ‘But my head hurts a bit,’ said Sue. I had no time to worry about bumped heads.

a. Who is ‘I’?

Answer: ‘I’ is the narrator, Gordon Cook.

b. To whom was he speaking?

Answer: He was speaking to his children, Jonathan and Suzanne (Sue).

c. Sue said that her head hurt a bit. Was she being truthful? How do you know?

Answer: No, she was not being completely truthful. We know this because later it is revealed that her head had swollen alarmingly, she had two enormous black eyes, and a deep cut on her arm.

d. Why didn’t anyone have the time to worry about bumped heads?

Answer: No one had the time to worry about bumped heads because they were focused on keeping the boat from sinking and surviving the disaster.

Answer these questions in detail

1. ‘My head hurts a bit.’ ‘I didn’t want to worry you when you were trying to save us all.’ ‘But Daddy, we aren’t afraid of dying if we can all be together-you and Mummy, Sue and I.’ ‘Because you are the best Daddy in the whole world-and the best captain.’ These lines spoken by the different members of the narrator’s family tell us a lot about them. Write a paragraph describing this family, their courage and crisis management skills. What other qualities of the family are brought out in the story? You could use words like: optimistic calm patient wise quick-thinking adventurous loving and caring

Answer: The narrator’s family displays remarkable courage and crisis management skills. Despite the dire situation, they remain optimistic and calm, showing patience and wisdom in their actions. Sue’s statement, ‘My head hurts a bit,’ highlights her bravery and selflessness, as she downplays her injury to avoid causing worry. The family’s quick-thinking and adventurous nature are evident in their ability to handle the storm and make necessary repairs. They are loving and caring, supporting each other through the ordeal. Their unity and determination to stay together, even in the face of potential death, exemplify their deep familial bond and resilience.

2. The story is divided into three stages. Describe each of these stages in your own words.

Answer: The first stage of the story involves the preparation and initial part of the voyage. The narrator and his family set sail from Plymouth, England, and journey down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town. They spend time honing their seafaring skills and fitting out their boat, Wavewalker, for the long journey ahead. The second stage describes the challenges they face as they encounter strong gales and gigantic waves in the southern Indian Ocean. The family and their crew struggle to keep the boat afloat and make necessary repairs amidst the storm. The final stage focuses on their desperate efforts to reach safety. Despite the continuous pumping and the deteriorating condition of the boat, they manage to reach Ile Amsterdam, a small island, where they find refuge and help from the island’s inhabitants.

3. ‘Our only hope was to reach these pinpricks in the vast ocean.’ What does this sentence tell you about the nature of the task the narrator had to accomplish?

Answer: This sentence highlights the immense difficulty and uncertainty of the task the narrator faced. The “pinpricks in the vast ocean” metaphorically represent the small, isolated islands in the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. Reaching these tiny landmasses required precise navigation and favourable conditions, making the task seem almost impossible. The narrator’s hope depended on their ability to locate these minuscule targets in a vast, hostile environment, emphasising the daunting and nearly insurmountable nature of their challenge.

Appreciating Form and Language

1. How would you describe this passage? Is it autobiographical? What makes you say so? Do you think the account is based on a true experience?

Answer: The passage can be described as autobiographical. It is written in the first person, providing a detailed and personal account of the events, emotions, and experiences of the narrator and his family. The specificity of the details and the emotional depth suggest it is based on a true experience.

2. Notice the vivid descriptions that the author has given of the storms. What impact do these descriptions have on you?

Answer: The vivid descriptions of the storms create a powerful impact, evoking a sense of fear and tension. The detailed imagery makes the reader feel as though they are experiencing the terrifying ordeal alongside the narrator, enhancing the emotional intensity of the narrative.

3. ‘It was only a bleak piece of volcanic rock, with little vegetation—the most beautiful island in the world!’ Discuss the paradox in these lines. Do you know what a paradox is? In literature, a paradox is a statement consisting of two parts that seem to mean the opposite of each other but has in it a meaningful or interesting idea.

Answer: The paradox in these lines lies in the contrast between the description of the island as “bleak” and “the most beautiful island in the world.” Despite its desolate appearance, the island represents safety and survival to the narrator, making it beautiful in their eyes. A paradox is a statement with two seemingly contradictory parts that together reveal a deeper truth.


1. Imagine you are Mary. Write a letter to your friend after you reach a safe place describing the disaster. Share your anxieties. Make sure you express your pride in your children for the way they conducted themselves during the disaster.


My Dearest Sarah,

I’m writing to you from Ile Amsterdam, a place I never dreamed I’d find myself, but a place that saved our lives. You won’t believe what we’ve been through. We had a huge wave hit us, so big it almost capsized the boat.

The children were so brave, you wouldn’t believe it. Sue, bless her heart, even after taking a nasty hit to the head, kept smiling and doing her best to be strong. She didn’t want to worry us, you know. And Jon… well, he’s my little hero. He stayed calm and never lost hope. It’s terrifying to think that we could have lost them.

It was a nightmare. The boat was filling with water, the pumps were failing, and the storm just wouldn’t let up. It was so cold, and the noise was deafening. There were times when I thought we wouldn’t make it. I was so terrified.

But the children were so strong. They never gave up hope, and neither did Gordon. He worked tirelessly to keep the boat afloat, patching up the holes, keeping us on course. He didn’t sleep for days. I can’t imagine what would have happened if he wasn’t there.

Thankfully, we survived. The island is bleak, but it’s heaven to us. We’re being looked after by the French scientists here. We’re safe, and that’s all that matters.

I’ll write again soon. We’ll be back on our journey when we’ve had time to recover. But I’ll never forget this experience, especially the strength and courage of my children.


Imagine you are Sue. Write a diary entry on how you and your family coped with the crisis. What qualities or actions helped you?

January 6th, 1976

My head is still pounding, and my eyes are all swollen and black, but I’m okay. We almost died. A huge wave hit our boat, Wavewalker, and everything went crazy.

Daddy was thrown overboard and Mom was at the wheel. I was scared, really scared, but I tried to stay strong. I didn’t want to worry them. The boat was filling with water, and everyone was working hard to pump it out.

Daddy was so brave. He kept telling us that we were going to be okay, and he worked so hard to fix the boat. Mom never stopped steering, even when she was terrified. I’m so proud of both of them.

We kept pumping and pumping, and we even managed to sail a little bit. We were looking for an island, and Daddy kept saying that we would find it. And we did! We saw it, and everyone cheered.

It feels good to be safe. I’m so grateful to be alive, and I’m so proud of my family. We worked together, and we made it. This is the most amazing adventure, even though it was scary.

2. Write an essay on the topic ‘Winning spirit’.

Answer: Title: Winning Spirit

A winning spirit is the essence of perseverance and determination that drives individuals to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. It is not merely about winning competitions or being first in line; it is about maintaining a positive attitude, staying committed, and pushing through challenges with unwavering resolve.

A winning spirit starts with a mindset. It involves believing in oneself, setting clear goals, and visualising success. This mental fortitude is crucial, as it helps individuals stay focused and motivated even when faced with setbacks. For example, athletes often face rigorous training and numerous defeats before they taste victory. Their winning spirit is what keeps them going, allowing them to learn from their failures and come back stronger.

Resilience is a key component of a winning spirit. Life is unpredictable, and everyone encounters difficulties and failures. However, those with a winning spirit view these challenges as opportunities for growth. They understand that failure is not the opposite of success but a part of the journey towards it. This resilience enables them to bounce back, adapt, and continue striving towards their goals.

Another important aspect is the willingness to put in the hard work. A winning spirit is characterized by dedication and a strong work ethic. Success rarely comes easy, and those who achieve it are often those who are willing to put in the extra effort. This might mean long hours of practice, continuous learning, and pushing oneself beyond perceived limits.

Furthermore, a winning spirit is about maintaining a positive outlook. Optimism fuels perseverance and keeps the spirit high even in the face of adversity. Positive thinking helps individuals stay motivated and keeps their focus on their end goals rather than the obstacles in their path.

A winning spirit is a blend of resilience, hard work, a positive mindset, and unwavering determination. It is the driving force that empowers individuals to push through barriers, learn from failures, and ultimately achieve their aspirations. Whether in sports, academics, or personal endeavors, the winning spirit is what transforms dreams into reality and makes the journey towards success a fulfilling and inspiring experience.

Extra fill in the blanks

1. In July 1976, my wife Mary, son Jonathan, 6, daughter Suzanne, 7, and I set sail from ______, England. (Plymouth/London)

Answer: Plymouth

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15. After finally reaching safety, we were helped ashore by the ______ inhabitants of the island. (28/50)

Answer: 28

Extra true or false

1. The family set sail from Plymouth, England, in July 1976.

Answer: True

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15. The inhabitants of Ile Amsterdam helped the family ashore.

Answer: True

Extra question and answer

1. When did the voyage start?

Answer: The voyage started in July 1976.

2. From where did they set sail?

Answer: They set sail from Plymouth, England.

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22. What qualities of the family helped them survive the ordeal at sea?

Answer: The family’s qualities that helped them survive the ordeal at sea included their courage, quick-thinking, and resilience. The narrator’s ability to repair the boat and navigate despite severe injuries showed determination. Mary’s unwavering support at the wheel for crucial hours was vital. Sue’s bravery and selflessness, despite her injuries, and Jonathan’s acceptance of the situation with calmness and courage were remarkable. The crewmen, Larry and Herb, worked tirelessly to pump water and maintain the boat’s stability. Their collective effort, optimism, and ability to manage the crisis effectively ensured their survival.

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