It was a glorious late August day in the Florida Keys—the kind of day we dreamt about all year. Abundant sunshine sparkled off turquoise ocean water, reflecting into a cloudless, deep blue sky.
We were in such high spirits as we loaded supplies on our 56 foot ocean yacht. Last Spring, we named the yacht Finally Free.
Finally Free was parked in Tom’s Harbor in the Keys.
I quipped, “Since we just paid off the yacht, we can truly say she’s ‘Finally Free!’”
When Maria stopped laughing, she finally asked, “Hey--but what about the hurricane? Are we gonna be okay?”
“Hurricane Igor? Hmmmm…lemme check.”
I grabbed my new iPhone out of my pocket, and pulled up the latest NOAA forecast over the internet. “Nahhh, Igor’s east of The Bahamas, and forecasted to head out to sea, away from land.”
“Hey Jim, you got GPS on that thing?”
“Yep – this new model has it built-in. We’ll never be lost again.”
“I once was lost--”
“—But now I’m found—found on our yacht!”
We giggled together. It was a precious moment I’ll never forget, because it was a stark contrast to just a few months ago, when Maria lost her mom to cancer. She was in a dark, deep valley of depression; I didn’t know how to reach her. But I knew God knew how to bring her out, so I kept praying for her.
Maria’s laughter was an answer to prayer.
We sailed out away from The Keys, then set course east toward The Bahamas.
“Hey Maria, you wanna drive?”
“Sure, you trust me?”
“With my life.”
Maria laughed again and continued smiling as she took the helm.
“Maria, what’re you thinkin’ about?”
“Oh, I’m just rememberin’ our wedding—our wedding vows.”
“I was just thinkin’ about it, too. ‘I trust you with my life’”.
We embraced for a few seconds.
“Did we load my laptop?”
“Yes Jim, it’s in the top drawer.”
“Got it! Thanks.”
I pulled out the laptop and powered it on.
“Hmmmm…” I said to myself, “Why is this thing so slow?”
The laptop started booting up. After the Microsoft splash window, the screen went black. Then, after almost a minute, which seems like electronic eternity, the screen turned blue. All kinds of gibberish was all over it, series of numbers and letters.
This means nothing to me, but Maria would probably know.
I took the laptop to the bridge and showed her.
“Hey Maria, what does this mean?”
She giggled again.
I love her laugh.
“That’s the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Otherwise known as the dreaded BSOD.”
“Death doesn’t sound good. How can I get all our stuff off of it—like all our diving pictures?”
“I’ll take a look at it later, dear. I’m busy right now.” She winked at me.
I walked away smiling. Then I prayed out loud, “Our Father, I love Maria soooo much. Thank You Jesus for my wife.”
“I heard that!” Maria called out from the bridge.
“I know. I know He heard it, too!”
As we edged closer to The Bahamas, dark clouds covered the blue sky like a dirty garden glove. The wind started picking up, and gusted strong. Instinctively, I pulled out my iPhone and checked the forecast again. There was an eerie red symbol on NOAA’s normally blue-colored website.
WARNING: Now a Category 4 Storm, Hurricane Igor took an unexpected westerly turn toward the Florida Keys. Hurricane Igor is moving at an unusual record speed. The hurricane will further strengthen…
We were heading directly into the storm. Confirmation came as the wind howled and a gust wave bucked the yacht hard. I fell down and lost my iPhone.
I called out, “Maria, turn around, turn around! We’re headin’ into the hurricane.”
Maria panicked, and suddenly jerked the wheel starboard. Another stronger hurricane-force gust of wind blasted the yacht squarely on its side.
It was too much. Hurricane Igor capsized Finally Free.
I scrambled for life jackets and stuffed bottled water and food into my pockets.
Sea water poured into the yacht. We didn’t have much time.
“JIM! JIM! Where are you?”
“I’m right here.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry—I’m soooo sorry.”
“It’s okay. Put this on—hurry!”
Igor ‘s angry waves bashed the yacht. His winds howled with incredible power.
We hung on, and prayed together, “Peace, be still!”
Suddenly the wind stopped.
“Is it over?”
“God is good!”
Up through the swirling clouds we saw the blue sky again.
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