It was too late. The wave crashed aboard the Queequeg II.
Every man for himself
"The next thing I know, I'm doing a somersault," Sherman said. "All of a sudden, all of that stuff in the cabin went everywhere."
The world was now upside down. The catamaran had done a pitchpole, turning end over end.
With a fat lip and injured arm, Sherman stood on the cabin ceiling, in rising water.
"You shake your head and say, 'What the hell just happened?' " Sherman said.
Sherman asked Strykowski if he was OK. He responded he couldn't find his eyeglasses.
Sherman looked for the skipper, but Cultra, 69, wasn't at the helm.
"I saw Quen float away," Sherman said. "It has got to be the most God-awfullest memory I've got -- to not be able to reach out and grab him."
Strykowski consoled Sherman.
"Joe's comment was, 'Every man for himself,'" Sherman said.
With water rising inside, the boat's contents began floating away, but the two men grabbed the life-saving gear. Diesel fuel from the boat's ruptured tanks saturated the two men.
The storm's powerful waves continued to pummel the capsized boat.
"We're like lightning bugs in a coffee can. When those waves hit, we're just getting slammed around like crazy," Sherman said.
They each found wetsuits to dive from the main salon to Cultra's sleeping berth in one hull to find survival gear, but couldn't locate any.
So they planned a dive to their berths in the other hull 15 feet away, where Strykowski had stowed flares, lights and fresh water.
Sherman plunged first, setting a guide rope for Strykowski.
Successful in the underwater swim, he tugged the line twice for Strykowski to proceed. He was to pull hand-over-hand on the line to meet Sherman. What could go wrong? After all, Strykowski was a master diver, Sherman thought.
"I'm holding the line," Sherman recounted, "and I feel some movement. And then I don't feel anything. And then I wait and I wait and I'm going, 'This ain't good.' "
Sherman searched for Strykowski.