Hell or High Seas: An incredible story of resiliency, hope, and second chances

Hell or High Seas follows U.S. Navy veteran Taylor Grieger and writer Stephen O’Shea as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime — sailing around Cape Horn, the world’s most treacherous ocean waters. The film is a moving portrait of a veteran using his own painful journey with PTSD to find healing for himself, and pave a smoother path for veterans returning to civilian life. Hell or High Seas is an adventure film with a deep, universal message about perseverance and hope.

An incredible story of resiliency, hope, and second chances premieres in October 2021.

The Message and the Mission

Every day in America over 20 veterans die of suicide. It’s a dark, ironic fact that the transition for military personnel into civilian life can be more deadly than combat itself.

Through documenting this extraordinary journey, Hell or High Seas will educate audiences to the very real struggles many veterans face when they return home. In screenings and outreach efforts, the film will create a thoughtful dialogue about how we can change this situation, and how each of us can play a role. Veterans who are struggling will realize that they are not alone, and that the symptoms attached to their transition are normal.

While our main characters are flawed, their extraordinary honesty and vulnerability is inspiring. It will encourage others to speak openly about their issues, and seek help.

Taylor Grieger

Taylor Grieger is a former Navy rescue swimmer who was diagnosed with complex PTSD after his release from the military. Upon his return to the U.S., Taylor was given little-to-no guidance on how to cope with his condition. Despite his mental duress, he and Stephen dreamed up a trip that would get some attention, and use the social media and news media attention to raise awareness about the veteran suicide epidemic.   

He exhausted his life savings on a dilapidated, 36-foot Watkins sailboat and spent the next nine months reinforcing the hull, refurbishing the interior, and replacing the sails and rigging. The two set sail for the first leg of their expedition in September of 2017, and on December 28th, 2018, they rounded Cape Horn.

Stephen O’Shea

While interviewing veterans for his book, “From the Land of Genesis,” Stephen realized how little he knew about what they had been exposed to, and what they had gone through, in order to return home. He was also oblivious to the struggles they faced upon returning home. This was particularly upsetting because these were his peers, several of them friends, including Taylor.

Through his conversation with Stephen, Taylor realized that he was not alone in his battle with PTSD. The two decided to partner on Taylor’s life-changing sailing adventure. Stephen’s skills as a storyteller play an important part in gathering the emotional content necessary to tell Taylor’s story.

The Technology used to document the journey

Using top-of-the-line DSLR cameras, multiple GoPros and a drone, Taylor and Stephen captured and documented this expedition from the start. There are raging storms, moments of calm seas, and remarkable landscapes. The results are startling: a combination of you-are-there action footage (including the team battling Hurricane Harvey), mixed with quiet, honest reflection about the purpose of the journey and its impact on them both.

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