On the second night, Sherman slept in a hammock that he made of wire. He hung it above the water in the bathroom.
The interior become an acid bath from leaking engine batteries. The diesel fumes now overwhelmed him.
But he still found a way to brush his teeth, one pleasure amid the privation.
In the middle of the night, he swore he saw a light through the hole.
Yet there was no full moon, so he stuck his head out the new porthole. A wave crashed on his face. He retreated.
"I thought I was seeing things," Sherman said.
Then he thought he heard a voice.
"Joe? Quen? Anybody? God help me!" Sherman uttered to the nothingness.
He believed he was dreaming. But he wasn't.
Aboard a passing freighter, someone with a spotlight shouted out to any survivors.
In fact, the freighter was the second vessel to come upon the capsized Queequeg II.
A tanker had earlier passed by but believed nobody was alive. Fully loaded, the tanker rode low in heavy seas and struggled. It left after the freighter arrived, which began a watch that lasted more than 14 hours.
The next morning, Sherman peeked through the hole again.
Like an answered prayer, the freighter had been waiting on Sherman since the previous afternoon.
"I got up and started waving my arms," he exclaimed. "I couldn't be more excited."
A complicated, perilous maneuver rescued Sherman from the bobbing sailboat.
During the retrieval, however, Sherman was ordered by the freighter captain to let go of his duffel bags because they weighed too much -- and imperiled his rescue.
Sherman let go.
Drifting away in those bags was $5,000 cash and the manuscript of Cultra's second book, written in the captain's own hand, forever lost at sea.
Over those two days, Sherman and the capsized Queequeg had drifted 80 miles. He was found 200 miles off the coast of Madagascar.
To this day, Sherman describes the freighter's crew of 18 Korean nationals, eight Filipinos and two or three Indonesians -- he counts them all -- as "angels."
When he returned to the plains of Illinois, he felt guilty being the sole survivor.
"Why me?" Sherman said. "I do think about the guilt, about saving my own life and not those other two guys. It does eat on me a little bit, but not as much as it used to. Hell, it's been only four years, so I still think about it quite a bit."
Sherman is now a changed man at age 60. He focuses on the big picture of life.
"I just don't get excited about the little stuff anymore," Sherman said. "The whole experience puts problems into perspective. People get excited about something that's not right or going wrong, and I sit there and look at them and say, 'What do you get so excited about? It's a little thing.'"
He also has a greater respect for life and "how quickly it can be taken away from you in a heartbeat."
Today, he checks the weather himself before sailing. And he's been able to resume sailing, although he said it was difficult to step foot on a boat again, which he did six months after the shipwreck.
"You're looking at the luckiest guy on the face of this Earth," Sherman told a recent gathering of the Los Angeles Adventurers Club, a group of intrepid travelers who invited him to be their guest speaker.
"I've talked to lots and lots of sailors," Sherman continued, "and they tell me they've heard all kinds of stories about pitchpoling -- but never from the guy who was there."