The first mate of the Bounty credits his captain, St. Petersburg's Robin Wallbridge, with saving his life when the tall ship sank amid the turbulent seas of Hurricane Sandy.
Wallbridge, 63, and a crew member died after a huge wave broadsided the three-masted craft 100 miles off the North Carolina coast Oct. 29.
John Svendsen said Wallbridge's endless drills and preparation were the reason 14 lives that were saved.
"I give my life to Robin, and to his ingenuity, to his leadership, that I'm here today," the first mate told ABC News, which interviewed the surviving 10 men and four women.
The crew, which had been through two previous hurricanes, was about to launch a life raft when the wave knocked them into the Atlantic.
Survivor Laura Groves, 28, told ABC News it was like "a washing machine in an earthquake while going down a giant slide."
Crew members wore red, floating survival suits as the 20-foot waves pounded the 180-foot ship amid 70-mph waves. Many of the survivors said they were never afraid.
No one knew who survived until all were hoisted into the helicopter.
Claudine Christian, 42, one of the newest crew members, died. According to ABC News, her last text to her mother read, "If I do go down with the ship & the worst happens… just know that I am truly genuinely happy!!"
"She was having the most fun ever on the best ride ever," Doug Faunt, 66, told the network.
The survivors told the network they were in mourning and in shock, but grateful to alive.
"After this, I'm never going to have another bad day in my life," Faunt said.
The 180-foot ship left Connecticut on Oct. 25, headed for The Pier in St. Petersburg, a frequent winter port for the ship. The ship was built for the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty" and was featured in several other films.
Wallbridge, whose body was never found, was known as an experienced sailor. His wife, Claudia McCann, told The Tampa Tribune last week that his crew was like his children.
"I knew he would be last, that is the way it is," she said before hearing from the crew. "He obviously made sure they were all safe. Then he wasn't able to get into the raft."