Santa Timea has set sail, venturing far out into unknown sea - too far! In misty weather, the ship collided with a reef, and after a long and despairing struggle the situation became hopeless, and the ship had to be abandoned. Groaning and moaning, the grand shio sinks to the seabed where it will find its last resting place.
Now, the sailors set off in the old lifeboats for a hair-rising journey to sheltering shores. As the lifeboats move closer to the islands, water rushes in and sailors get thrown overboard. But it's all done democratically and the majority rules - unless you happen to play the Captain's Hat at the right time to overrule everyone.
In the beginning, the players position their seamen in any empty space in any lifeboat. All game turns follow the same pattern then: One lifeboat gets a leak, one lifeboat proceeds on field towards the sheltering islands, and finally every player displaces one of his seamen from one lifeboat into another. Each seaman who reaches an island scores victory points. The player who gains most points wins the game.
But before an island is reached, a dangerous journey has to be survived: If a boat takes a new leak but has no open seats left, all players with pawns in the selected boat vote to throw a pawn overboard. And if a lifeboat contains more leaks than pawns, it sinks. Life was hard for seamen these times!
Fate is very democratic in this game. If something has to be decided, it is voted on. Every player choses a color card of the lifeboat he wants to vote for and places it face-down in front of him. Then, all players reveal their choice simultaneously, and the game turn will be resolved according to the majority of votes. The players are free to influence the choice of the others by threatening them, giving tactical hints that nobody asked for, or by offering them deals. But agreements are not binding, and when turning the voting cards round, they may turn out to have been cock-and-bull stories.
In addition to the color cards every player gets three Captain's Hat cards at the beginning of the game. If during a ballot one of the revealed voting cards turns out to be a Captain's hat, the player who played that card may confidently ignore the majority result and go for his favoured move instead. But there are two things to notice with the Captain's Hat cards. First, the Captain's Hat cards are not taken back after being played, so one has only three attempts in the entire game. And if more than one Captain's Hat is played in a single ballot, the cards cancel each othe out and the usual rules for a vote are used.