Chapter 20: Strong Wind, Big Waves and Engine Stalls…Overcoming the Elements

On our way from Everett to Edmonds last week, we ran into trouble. We knew there was a small craft advisory on the Sound, but thought we could make the window of time before the wind really began to blow. When we past Mukilteo, we ran straight into 5 to 7 foot waves from crest to trough. Beating into the waves, we unfortunately lost our engines a number of times. Giving way to the waves, we were tossed too and fro. Joy and Arianna were troopers, bravely holding our kitchen drawers in place while fighting motion sickness.  Felicity and Caleb decided to tuck themselves into their bunks and actually fell asleep through it all. When Ryan finally got the engines started again, I continued to steer into the waves, which covered me completely with salty spray. Courageously I declared to the wind and waves, I wasn’t afraid of them.  Our family was fervently praying aloud, knowing only God, our Heavenly Father could help us in such a situation. After 30 minutes with not much forward progress toward our southern destination, we decided to turn around and limp back to our home port. A few more white knuckled engine stalls and a submerged bow, which began to heel the boat port side, we finally made it to the leeward side of Mukilteo, calmer seas, and finally, our home dock.

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Ryan, bundled up, heading into the storm.

I’m very proud of my family. We all kept calm, level headed, worked together, and didn’t freak out in a very stressful situation. Calling on God to save us and start our motors, which he did, multiple times, was nothing less than a series of miracles to us.

Sometimes I think God knows I need a quick, swift, mental kick to keep me fighting for this dream of ours.   Sometimes I get caught up in dreaming about the future, which used to leave me feeling dissatisfied with our present circumstances. In dreaming about living aboard and circumnavigating, I had envisioned warm, crystal clear, turquoise water someplace around the equator where dolphins would jump and swim beside our boat. Swim suites would be our basic attire, taking up way less closet space! Beautiful sandy beaches and palm trees would be the post cards we would feast our eyes on everyday. We would grow to love the families, people, and cultures we’d visit.

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Returning to our home port, we were surfing the waves instead of beating headlong into them.

Instead, we live aboard just 20 miles north of where we had lived for the past seven years. Actually, we drive past our previous exit multiple times a week when taking our girls to ballet classes. I know the Northwest’s fall and winters. They’re drizzly, and dreary with brisk short days, and cold long nights. It is easy to get discouraged and depressed during the gray days in the Northwest.

Yet, even though we essentially have continued normal life in the same spot… just with less conveniences like hot water, a dishwasher, washing machine or a finished shower aboard, I know we have the potential of extraordinary adventure, right here.

Since the beginning of September, Jeremiah 1:9 has really been pressed upon my heart. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; medicate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The Lord and I continue to have plenty of conversations about wintering on our tiny boat. I’ve never done anything this extraordinary or adventurous before, and easily become grumpy, missing the comfort zone I don’t have anymore.

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My children gleefully jumping in puddles.

As I watched my children gleefully jump in puddles one afternoon after a heavy rain, I began seeing this winter season as a small puddle, compared to the continued adventure stretched out before us. I know each season has its wet, cold, messy puddles. As each season has its massive waves that want to toss our boat and topple it over. But how many places in the Bible does God say, “Don’t fear! Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. I am with you. I am your ever present help in times of trouble. I will never turn my back on you. I am your Shepherd. Do not worry! Consider it all Joy!”

Our family knows, without a doubt, we are where God wants us. This is a season of training and testing to know what we’re made of, and to be stronger for what God has in store. Storms, wind, waves, I know who made them all. “I am a daughter of God and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Jonah 1:9 Storms just draw me closer to him.

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The Pacific Northwest, for sure, is a beautiful place to live.
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