Ship captains and bush pilots will tell you the weather in Alaska can change so quickly and brutally, if you don’t have an escape plan, you’re toast.
We’d been clamming across from Redoubt for two days and it was time to pack up our gear and head several hours over to Seward. We were going to go halibut fishing on my friend, Ralph’s 28 foot Bayliner cabin cruiser for two days out of Resurrection Bay. The cruiser was fittingly called the “Think or Thwim”, the same name as his father’s commercial fishing boat I worked on out of Bristol Bay, Alaska in 1985. The shores along Resurrection Bay are even more breathtaking than the shores along Cook Inlet. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Hunt for Red October, with Sean Connery, you’ve seen parts of the bay whether you knew it or not. Its jagged cliffs, seabirds, marine wildlife and alpine glaciers, including Bear Glacier are magnificent.
A stop at the local Three Bears Grocery for a few supplies and we were ready. We lifted a 14 foot Zodiac (a raft like the Navy SEALS use) onto the bow of the ship, backed her down the launch, set a course for the open ocean and headed out of the harbor.
Fifteen minutes into the trip, a pod of killer whales appeared off our starboard bow. When a six foot dorsal fin pops up beside you in three hundred feet of water, it’s pretty spooky. Killer whales typically eat sea lions, fish, squid, seals, penguins, dolphins, porpoises and large whales like the blue whale. They can grow to be thirty feet long, weigh 20,000 pounds, and swim at speeds of up to thirty miles per hour.
We’d just reached the open ocean where you could draw a direct line to Japan, when the engine suddenly died. We’d thrown a bearing in the inboard motor and were dead in the water, forty miles out from Seward. We had a 25 horse Evinrude motor we’d brought along for the Zodiac, but it was a short shaft. It wouldn’t work on this bigger boat. The only other motor we had was a 9.9 horse trolling motor. We fastened the 9.9 onto the ships aft and began making a plan.
The skies were growing ominously dark and the troughs of the waves were growing deeper. We knew we needed to find shelter fast. We looked at our GPS and noticed a cove called “Three Hole Bay” some four miles away that could give us a safe harbor until we could be rescued.
By the time we made it into the harbor, the mist and fog was as thick as pea soup. The only way we’d have located a rescue boat would have been to run into it. Ship captains and bush pilots will tell you the weather in Alaska can change so quickly and brutally, if you don’t have an escape plan, you’re toast.
Not only was the main motor kaput, but now we were thirty-five miles out of cell phone range and had no radio contact. We dropped anchor in Three Hole Bay and spent the night sorting through possible scenarios.
The next morning when we awoke, the boat was only thirty yards from the rocks. Our anchor had come loose. This wasn’t an aluminum hulled boat as most Alaskan boats are. She was made of fiberglass. Hitting rocks would be like smacking an egg with a pair of vice grips; a sure recipe for disaster. It was time to think or thwim.
We used the 9.9 to motor us away from the rock cliffs a couple of hundred yards, but now the water was so deep our anchor wouldn’t reach bottom. The only option we had was to drop anchor in an avalanche chute where a massive rock slide had happened years before piling thousands of boulders to the ocean floor. This could also be a great place to drop a fishing line in case we needed food as underwater structures tend to hold fish. As my eyes scanned the path of the massive rockslide, all I could think about was the landslide that happened in Lituya Bay, AK I’d recently read about that happened back in 1958 causing a tsunami higher than the Empire State building.
The enemy likes to use past events to mess with our minds. He also likes to bring things up things in the future to cause us unhealthy emotions as well. Thoughts like; “What if no one finds us here? A landslide has happened here before. What if it happens again while we’re anchored in its path? What if our boat drifts into the rocks tonight? What if we run out of fresh water? What if…” These past and future thoughts can rob you of being present in the moment and cause you to make unhealthy choices based on fear, worry and doubt.
Read the following verse aloud and answer the question: “Where in my life is this verse connecting right now, and what revelations in my life is the Holy Spirit showing me through this verse?
. . . Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. (James 1:7-8. MSG)