The Below Deck After Show had a rightfully somber tone this week. Since viewers finally saw the conclusion to the man overboard rescue, Ashton Pienaar was given the platform to share his harrowing experience. He detailed his mental struggle to survive, his acceptance when he believed the worst would happen, and the emotions he cycled through once he was saved.
After he hit the water, Ashton’s body and mindset were geared toward survival. He described that moment, “In my mind, my first mission was get the line unraveled from my ankle. That mission changed to now keep your head above water. Because I’m being dragged by the yacht. I can’t get breathe. I’m paddling up to get air out of the water.”
Ashton quickly realized that he would not be able to get his foot untangled. He was fighting against the power of a yacht to maneuver his leg. It was an impossible situation. Ashton recalled, “I remember my foot came up in front or me. I mentally prepared myself that in that moment my foot was going to be ripped. In my head, I was like, your foot is going to be ripped off in front of your face. The pressure that I felt around my ankle with that rope is something I’ve never felt in my life. When I felt that pressure is when I screamed.”
Thankfully, Brent, a quick-thinking cameraman, was able to undo the knot and release Ashton. Once freed, Ashton felt complete disbelief. He recounted that moment, “You can’t understand going from being in that state of mind, when you’ve come to terms with it, and now just that tension gets released.” It still gives him goosebumps.
The ordeal wasn’t over yet. Ashton had just escaped a potentially fatal situation. But he still had to keep his wits about him enough so that he could swim to the tender and drive it behind the yacht. When Brent released Ashton, he also let the tender loose behind the boat. So Ashton needed to drive the rogue vessel to the yacht’s intended docking destination.
The body’s physiological response to an extreme fight or flight scenario is complex. Ashton experienced many emotions on that solo ride. He shared, “The adrenaline was obviously pumping through me and I felt like I was fine. But as I’m going through this tender ride I’m like woah this is not good. I went to this complete calm where I was absolutely like nothing mattered. Then I went into an emotional feeling and I went back the calm. It’s absolutely mind-blowing how I went through all these things.”
When Ashton was finally able to get back on board he felt safe. He recalled the emotion when he reunited with Bosun Ross Inia. Ashton shared, “When Ross hugged me, I almost broke down. I felt the sense of safety. I’m home. That was the moment. I’m home and I’m fine.”
Though Ashton still gets very emotional reliving the incident, he is determined to see it all in a positive light. He explained, “I’m glad it happened to me and that I’m fine. If I can save someone else’s life out there through what happened, and through them watching, then there’s a reason for these things happening.”
TELL US-WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE INCIDENT? HAVE YOU EVER HAD A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE? DID THE SHOW CORRECTLY PORTRAY THE SEVERITY OF THE SITUATION?
[Photo Credit- Bravo]