Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exhale (08/15/13)
- TITLE: Lake Michigan Roars
By Pamela Reed
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Our cruiser slipped noiselessly through the waters of Lake Michigan as I donned a swimsuit and laid out on the front deck to achieve a tan. Wes was on the fly bridge directing the cruiser north so that we could discover each harbor on the northwest side of Michigan. The children were on the back deck, snacking on chips and pop and loudly telling their favorite stories. We would pull into a marina and walk the city to get a feel of the different communities. Manistee captured our hearts as it is a city of historic value. We gleefully went through the antique stores and businesses that were contained in century old buildings. At Frankfort, we played volleyball on the marina courts and trudged uphill to a theatre where we watched “A League of their own.” It was a new movie and we enjoyed it.
Sadly, our week was now coming to a close and we needed to sail south and return home to begin a new work week on Monday. We enjoyed our sun and fun on the water and all seemed well when Wes glanced at his radar screen and the right half was jet black. Oh, no, we don’t want any trouble with the electronics on the boat! He then glanced west and noticed it wasn’t the radar equipment at all; it WAS jet black on the lake approximately four miles out. It was as if a black curtain had been hung from the heavens. We were in the sunshine, but knew what was coming. Between ports is not a great location during a storm. Throttling up, Wes brought the cruiser to its 32 knots per hour capability. We needed to get to Portage Point, but it was quite a distance.
The storm hit and the 18 foot waves brought our vessel out of the water. At the top of each wave, our rudder was totally useless. We had absolutely no control of the craft. Turning the steering wheel completely one way and then the other had no effect – the wheel turned, but the boat went exactly where the wave wished it to go. And then the lightning began. We sent the children to the cabin. The lightning grew stronger and closer and then it hit the rudder when we were at the top of a wave. The electricity followed the steering shaft and hit Wes’ hands which were tightly on the steering wheel. He got shocked and his hands flew back off of the wheel. Oh, God, we are going down! We have no safe harbor, and we can’t control the boat. I held my breath as Wes decided that it would be best to ditch the boat anywhere that he could. Let’s get our family on land, and safe; but where? The storm was so fierce and it was dark. We couldn’t even see the coast to choose a location. Panic was setting in when we received that “peace that passes understanding.” We instantly knew that we were not going down to the bottom of Lake Michigan. We would live to see tomorrow.
And that is when Wes noticed a string of smaller boats following us. He determined that they noticed that we had radar and thought that we had an advantage that would lead them out of the storm. But we were totally unaware of our location or what to do; and now other families were relying on us to help them.
Wes glanced at the radar for the umpteenth time since the storm began and then he saw it. There was a little tiny break in the land. We didn’t know what it was, but believed that God showed us and so we went for it with our entourage following. We discovered a harbor that we didn’t know existed. Arcadia had a very small marina, but had a slip for each one of us. I don’t know what the word Arcadia means, but to us; it means “God’s safe harbor” where we were finally able to exhale and relax.
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