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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: Jesus is the Keel
By Kathryn Wickward
08/25/07


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“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

I taught sailing to teenage girls for 9 years. I preferred teaching on keelboats, rather than dinghy’s, because they tend to be larger and more stable. Dinghy sailors expect to get dumped into the drink every once in a while. That’s fine in the height of summer, when the water is warm. I taught year round, up north where the water is cold.

Some days, even in the winter, the wind is very light. Other days, the wind blows about 15-20 miles per hour, but let me tell you, it feels like a gale to the novice. The young women I taught understood the kind of fear that precedes a big test, or losing face before their peers, or the dateless week before the prom. It’s nothing like the white-knuckle fear they experience when they take the tiller for the first time in a stiff breeze.

The boat was named El Diablo for a reason. Once the breeze filled the sails, he (no one has ever convinced me that boats are female) took on a demonic life of his own. The girl on the tiller would grip with all she had, eyes wide with fear, fighting to keep the boat off the wind against her instinct to let it round up into the wind. A boat will not sail directly into the wind. It stops, sails luffing madly, “in irons.” It feels safe, for a while, but Diablo had this perverse need to sail backwards once in irons. That was scarier. If our girl on the tiller kept Diablo off the wind, and the sails were trimmed properly, the boat would heel, that is, tip over to the side. Diablo would gleefully heel over far enough so that any stray wave kept his decks clean. He threatened to capsize, just like a dingy.

Once a boat arrives at too great an angle of heel, it sails inefficiently, and slows down. So I would show the crew how to spill wind from the sails by easing the lines that held them in place, and how to use their weight to balance the boat. Just as often, however, I would explain to them the purpose of the keel.

The keel is an appendage permanently bolted to the bottom of the boat, kind of like a shark’s dorsal fin, only upside down. Diablo’s keel was filled with lead and weighed about 3000 pounds. Its purpose is to overcome the force of the wind in the sails by applying an opposing force under the water, allowing the boat to move forward, rather than sideways, and keeping it mostly upright. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to capsize a keelboat.

See the connection? Jesus is our keel. No matter what in life hits us, if He becomes a permanent part of our structure – as a keel is to a keelboat- we cannot fall over. And it’s pointless to just stop and luff our sails when we are afraid or troubled, because He is there to keep us on course. It’s scary for a while, but as they say in the Northwest, if you don’t like the weather – wait 15 minutes.

Take heart, He has overcome the world.


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This article has been read 503 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
Wonderful analogy, and I could almost feel the wind in my hair.

Is it dinghy or dingy? And a few minor apostrophe faults, easily edited.

This was a light, refreshing read, and also an education. I enjoyed it very much.
Myrna Noyes09/05/07
Very interesting piece with a GREAT message! I enjoyed reading it, but didn't know the meaning of "luffing" and "in irons"! I guess I need to check on the internet for definitions to those terms! I could feel the fear of the girls you taught! Good job! :)
Clyde Blakely 07/12/08
Well written, from an old soldier who doesn't like the open ocean (sea sick) this was a great piece; informative and "flowed" well (pardon the pun, I didn't see it until written). Your explanations were great and easily to follow. And, Yes, I did see the connection of the keel to Jesus - perfect.
Keep writing and God bless.

Thanks for sharing.