An Unexpected Mishap...

It is the nature of  mishaps to arrive unexpected. If we could see them coming, we would do something to avoid them. Nobody can see them coming. And while one could spend a lot of time thinking up scenarios about what might go wrong and make provisions for that, a person could run out of courage dwelling on those things long before they ever covered all the bases. 

Things happen.

And, being human, we can't see into the future.

Too much sun this week, so I had to
 improvise (Hey, it worked for Katharine
Hepburn in the African Queen).
So it was as we set out one beautiful morning for our first crossing of real ocean, we felt things couldn't get any better. It was not a big crossing. Just a little stretch that would take maybe two hours at the most. A sort of “passing by the door” to the whole wide world before scurrying into protected harbors and bays of the northwest islands, again. The fact that our course cut directly through a major shipping lane should not be a problem. 

You could see those huge tankers coming a long way off so there would be plenty of time to steer out of the way. I have to admit I was a little jumpy about that because my depth perception is such that all distances look flat to me. It's the reason I don't drive. Not to mention the Captain has put up with my false alarms of eminent collision for so many years, he has highly trained and conditioned himself to ignore them. I've been a little slower at such conditioning, myself, since I've had to go the “beautiful mind” route and retrain my brain not to believe what I see. 

All of which could have made for big problems on an adventure like this, except that we  believe God has our lives in the center of his hand. As long as we can stay under His protective shadow in the daytime and that “pillar of fire by night.” Right? Not so easy when flitting around outside your comfort zone. The ocean is very big out there, even a little piece of it. And it actually feels alive the way swells undulate up and down in constant rhythm. Almost like breathing. 

That's how it seems to me, anyway, but I've got an active imagination. They say you get used to it. Much harder getting used to what happens when we end up in the “backwash” of one of those tankers going by. Or even a fishing boat if it passes close enough to us. 

We rock violently from side-to-side for a few minutes while things below begin to crash down from places you thought were secure. It's not as bad if you can turn the boat into the waves and meet them head-on, but that's not always an option. Especially when you are  busy arguing if they're far enough away to dissipate before they reach you. One reason I was feeling better the closer we got to the nearest island. 

Not close enough, however, because when the Captain suddenly announced, “We've lost oil pressure, I have to shut down the engine,” I had sort of a meltdown. 

“But one or two more minutes and we'll be out of the shipping lane!” I protested.

“You want to blow up the engine? There's oil spurting all over the place. Have to raise the sails.”

“Raise the sails—there's no wind—just fix it! Fix the engine!”

“It's going to take some time. I have to think about it.”

I am not going to document the rest of that conversation. What I do want to document is this. There wasn't a breath of wind out there and we were too deep to drop anchor. But there was a bit of a current in our favor that showed some possibility of pushing us toward shore some time before midnight. This necessitated me having to take the tiller so the Captain could work on the engine. 

As far as I could tell, we felt “dead in the water.” But I picked a point (I think I saw a house up on the cliff) and held steady, in case we should actually be moving. Or—better yet—in case a puff of wind should miraculously turn up. And please, Lord, don't let any more tankers pass by right now.

Not ten minutes later, there was a little whisper-breath of a breeze.

Little by little we began to move out of the shipping lane. By the time we were close enough to drop the anchor, I could see there was a path zig-zagging up the cliff to the house, and not too far beyond the beach, some kind of road. There were even a few hikers walking along the top of the cliff, as if there might be a trail up there. Plenty of options should we need to get parts. But we didn't need to. 

Because while I was busy going over our options, not caring how we rocked when the tankers passed anymore since we were finally well enough away, the Captain discovered a hole in some oil hose. Which he put a temporary patch on, poured more oil back into the engine, and we were on our way, again. 

We finally anchored in Fidalgo Bay,
 off the town of Anacortes.
I breathed a prayer of thanks, prayed forgiveness for my little faith, and marveled at what horrors could have come on us if all that had happened even five minutes sooner. Or if we had left ten minutes later and intersected with that last tanker instead of slipping safely toward shore. What if—but what if-- 

What if God knows so exactly how to get us from point A to point B we can stop worrying about missing any more divine appointments?

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