After Cultra checked the forecast -- and apparently saw nothing amiss -- they set sail. It was to be the last voyage of the Queequeg II.
The skies misted as they left Mauritius on a leg that was to last six days and cover 600 nautical miles.
The rain worsened over the next four days.
Sherman began his three-hour shift at the helm at 1 o'clock in the afternoon.
The twin-hulled boat heaved with growing waves, some reaching 40 feet in height.
Cultra and Strykowski rested below deck, in the main salon.
What the trio didn't know was that Tropical Cyclone Fanele was barreling over southern Madagascar, head-on toward the boat, and Tropical Storm Eric was raging to starboard.
Sherman noticed something odd: The rain fell horizontal.
Cultra then relieved him.
"I was a rookie," Sherman said of his helmsmanship. "I knew that day I earned my wings. I was no longer a novice. I had made it. I got inside that cabin, and I was never so happy to get inside."
It was the captain's turn at the wheel.
Heading into the fury, Cultra altered course. He surfed the boat with the waves, rather than beat against them.
But Cultra couldn't see what was rising behind him.
It was unlike anything Sherman had seen: a 50-foot wave.
"Look!" Sherman warned, pointing to a wall of water the size of a five-story building.
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.