The mood of the VIP passengers aboard ship is initially one of fear and trepidation. And with good reason, too. The ship is being buffeted by a violent storm—whipped up by Prospero, no less. It's all hands on deck as the crew battles to navigate the swaying vessel through the stormy seas. The noble party are incredibly anxious at this sudden turn of events and venture from below deck to see what's happening. But their presence is unwelcome, to put it mildly. The boatswain bluntly tells them to go back to their cabins, as they're getting in the way of the crew's work.
Ordinarily, these noble personages wouldn't take too kindly to being insulted like that by the lower orders. But Gonzalo actually feels strangely reassured by the boatswain's brusque, rugged manner. This looks like the kind of guy who'd hang rather than drown. If that turns out to be true, says Gonzalo, then there's hope for them yet:
Methinks he hath no drowning mark upon him. His complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his hanging. Make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage (Act I, Scene i).
As the storm continues to rage, however, it seems that all is lost. Frustration comes to the boil among the royal party and they start hurling insults at the sailors for their alleged drunkenness and incompetence:
We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards. This wide-chopped rascal—would thou mightst lie drowning the washing of ten tides!
So says Antonio, openly telling the boatswain for good measure that he hopes he drowns. Gonzalo tries to put a brave face on it, still insisting that the boatswain has the look of a hanged man about him, rather than a drowned one. But no one is really convinced. The end seems nigh, and so there's nothing to do but join with the king in a last, desperate prayer.