Josh Duhamel’s latest movie is a terrifying stranded-at-sea-surrounded-by-sharks story, but what makes it scarier is it actually happened.
Josh Duhamel’s latest movie is a terrifying stranded-at-sea-surrounded-by-sharks story, but what makes it scarier is it actually happened.

Horror true story behind star’s new film

A luxury yacht and a six-day voyage on the high seas turns into a bloody nightmare for this group in a true story that plays out in Josh Duhamel's latest Hollywood movie.

Capsized: Blood in the Water is now available to stream on Foxtel Now and is the first scripted feature film made just for Shark Week. It's about five people who are stranded at sea surrounded by dozens of sharks for days. Only two live to tell the tale.

What makes the movie even more terrifying is that it's based on a true story.

In 1982, a group set out from Maine in perfect sailing conditions en route to Florida. But two days into the journey, their 18-metre yacht Trashman capsized during a violent storm, throwing 24-year-old sailor Deborah Scaling-Kiley and her friends into the ocean.

Josh Duhamel in Capsized: Blood in the Water.
Josh Duhamel in Capsized: Blood in the Water.

One of her crewmates, Meg Mooney, slashed her leg in the struggle - making them a magnet for great white sharks who began circling the group.

They managed to clamber onto a life raft, but within hours "hundreds" of killer sharks began circling and even ramming the boat in an attempt to dislodge the terrified crew members.


The crew, which included Deborah, Meg, Captain John Lippoth (Duhamel), yachtsman Brad and Englishman Mark Adams, were to sail up the East Coast of America and drop the yacht off to its new owner in Florida.

Deborah was looking forward to the six-day, 2100km trip.

"The weather was beautiful, the boat was fun to steer," she said to The Sun. "It doesn't get much better than that."

But on the second day, the weather took a turn for the worse, and as night fell, the yacht hit a terrifying tropical storm.

As nine-metre waves crashed against the mast and 110km/h winds battered the sails, the captain, who had been drinking heavily, fell asleep at the helm.

Deborah was woken in the middle of the night by panicked voices and found icy water pouring into the cabin.

The boat was capsizing and Meg fell against some rigging, badly cutting her leg.

The panicked crew jumped into the water, and Mark inflated a 3.4 metre dinghy.

The crew clambered in, but before he could join them, Mark felt something nudge his leg.

At that moment, to Deborah's horror, she saw hundreds of sharks in the water around them, swimming dangerously close to their boat.

"The minute we got in there were fins surrounding the dinghy," she said. "They were everywhere."

The killer creatures had been drawn to the blood from Meg's open wound and had come from miles.

One of the sharks grabbed the rope on the front of the boat and started pulling it along in the water - taking the crew on a terrifying joy ride.

When that failed the sharks began to ram the tiny boat in a bid to topple them out.

Dive into Shark Week on Discovery Channel. Stream Foxtel Now


Hours turned into days and the starving crew became severely dehydrated.

With urine and the blood and pus from Meg's wounds sloshing about on the floor of the dinghy, the crew started developing infections all over their bodies.

Taking a turn for the worse, Meg's wounded leg became infected and blood poisoning began spreading through her body.

By day three, with infection and dehydration rife, the crew began to get delirious as their brains were starved of water.

Desperate, John and Mark started to drink salt water - which accelerates dehydration and causes kidneys to shut down.

Before long John was hallucinating. He suddenly thought he saw land and jumped off the side of the boat.

"All of a sudden we just hear this shrill scream. Blood-curdling. Then it was over, silence. There was no crying, nothing. There was no doubt what got him. The sharks got him," Deborah recalled.

'The sharks got him' … Deborah Scaling-Kiley recalls the horrific events.
'The sharks got him' … Deborah Scaling-Kiley recalls the horrific events.

With Mark also delusional and Meg weak from her blood poisoning, Brad and Deborah were the only ones left with their wits about them and made a pledge to look out for each other.

Shortly after John's death, Mark - who had been hallucinating for hours - mumbled that he was going to the convenience store to buy beer and cigarettes.

Despite Deborah and Brad's attempts to bring him back to reality, he too plunged into the shark-infested waters.

The sharks instantly moved in, banging against the bottom of the boat and spinning it round as they tore into Mark's flailing body in a frenzied attack.

"It was by far the most horrifying moment of my entire life," Deborah said.


That night, as the infection in her blood took hold, Meg began having severe hallucinations.

"We were sitting there watching Meg die and it was tragic," Deborah said.

When the remaining pair woke in the morning, she was dead - lying in the "fetid mess of seaweed, blood, urine and pus" on the floor.

Brad admits he considered eating her body in a desperate bid for survival, but Deborah warned him Meg was too infected and insisted they had to throw her off the boat.

They took off her shirt and jewellery to give to her family on their return.

"It was such a sad moment because we laid her naked body on the side of the raft and then we decided we couldn't just roll her off. She needed some sort of funeral," Deborah said.

"So we said the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23 and we gently pushed her body overboard.

"Then we decided to go back to sleep so when the sharks attacked we wouldn't have to see it."

In another terrifying moment, Brad fell into the water while trying to clean the boat out, and Deborah broke down as he struggled to find the strength to get him back in.

"I felt like I'd just doomed Brad to death," she said. "If the sharks came back, he was dead."

Deborah said there were hundreds of great white sharks.
Deborah said there were hundreds of great white sharks.


With a surge of adrenaline Brad managed to pull himself in, and moments later desperation turned to joy as he spotted a Russian cargo ship on the horizon.

The pair waved frantically at the crew - who waved back - and soon they had thrown a life ring into the water centimetres from the boat.

The pair jumped into the water and were winched on-board the ship.

"I didn't care who these people were or where we were going," Deborah said. "I was there and Brad was there and we were alive."

Deborah went on to become a motivational speaker and wrote a book - Albatross: The True Story of a Woman's Survival at Sea - in 1994.

She sadly died in 2012 at her home in Mexico, at the age of 54, from unknown causes.

Brad continues to work as a mariner in Massachusetts but says the 1982 ordeal has left him a changed man.

"It's not something that you turn off once you've been through it," he said. "You keep living in survival mode. I don't know if you're shell-shocked, but it's impossible to just turn it off and live the way you did before."

Capsized: Blood in the Water is now streaming on Foxtel Now

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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