Are you struggling right now? You may be climbing an uphill battle that seems like the hill is getting bigger. It could be an addiction, loss of a loved one, a debilitating sickness or any issue you face on a recurring basis. I titled today’s blog “Sailing Through The Struggle” not in the sense that you can breeze through your issues, rather that this life is a journey and like sailing the ocean it can be smooth or very rough at times.
Are you bailing water right now or are you taking advantage of the fair winds?
Today I will be sharing my own experiences and feelings. Being the New Year and all, I really want to leave some things behind but also I want to take other things with me. I’ve struggled for years with a fear of open water and sadly I’ve let that fear rob my joy multiple times I’ve been on the water.
I hope you enjoy today’s blog from The Eason Clan.
Rockin’ and Rollin’
I would like to open today’s blog with this important fact: I have no sea legs.
In fact when I venture out onto the ocean I get quite uneasy. If the waves start hitting then I start grabbing. So for future reference, if you’re on a boat with me…lookout! I share my lack of seafaring qualities with you today because we are going on a adventure. If you are more seaworthy than I, maybe I can rely on you. Or if you’re like me, we can both hold onto each other and moan in discomfort.
I guess I take after my father for that quality as he also doesn’t have much of a tolerance for fairing the seas either. Looking back I remember him hanging his head over the side of the 90 foot schooner the Scademia, feeding the sea creatures, as our tour boat rocked back and forth making its way into St. John’s harbour.
My own past experiences have not much better as I almost went overboard once when traveling from Port Aux Basques, NL to North Sydney, NS. I was no older than ten years old and I slipped on the wet deck and my legs went out under the railing on the top deck of the ferry. Thankfully my mother was there and grabbed me and hauled me up.
In 2008 my mother, nephew, past girlfriend and I were making the ferry crossing from Blanc Sablon, Quebec to St Barbe, NL in high seas. I remember seeing the white caps on the water and watching the ferry make multiple attempts to dock at the port as we waited to board.
Once we started the crossing,…it…was…horrible. I can still remember the spray of the ocean hitting the upper deck windows and feeling the constant rocking throughout the 35 km run. During the trip I managed to leave my booth and venture down a floor to the gift shop. One moment we’d be down looking at the jewelry then a wave would hit and we’d be back up by the hoodies. I asked the girl at the counter what she thought about the weather (more so for my own comfort, as I thought “Well she works on a ferry for a living, so she’s seen worse for sure.”) Her reply gave me no such comfort.
“This is probably this worst it’s been in years.”
At one point the ferry listed so hard to port, the dishes started falling in the kitchen and across the tables. Then to top it off we listed again so much that I saw the crest of the waves through the port windows (I was on the starboard). I was literally shaking and telling my family not to speak to me. I think I quoted Psalm 23 dozens of times. People nearby must have been weirded out by this young fella quoting back and forth “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me. Your rod…”
Finally we docked in St Barbe, and as we drove into the parking lot, I exited the car promptly and knelt on the ground, and kissed the wet pavement.
Everyone passing by must have thought I was nuts. First hearing me repeat lines over and over and now kneeling on the wet pavement, kissing the ground with a fierce passion.
I noticed something that day though.
When I get really nervous, I shut people out and let fear take over.
“Gee wizzz Christian, your experiences suck.”
Oh it continues.
The Boat Tour of Doom
A few years ago the prayer group I attend decided to go on whale watching tour out of Bay Bulls, NL. As we boarded the tour boat we met up with my pastors guest, a really nice man and his family. It is noteworthy to mention that he was a politician of the federal government at that time.
Well off we went on our little tour, exiting the bay into the wide open ocean. There were about thirty of us on the boat so I decided to stay on the lower deck while mostly everyone else crowded on top with the best view. Then it started. The waves started rolling and the boat started to rock back and forth. I honestly thought I was going to be thrown into the sea. I grabbed ahold of the ladder that led to the upper deck and held on for dear life. Meanwhile my wife, Melissa strolls over and says, “Babe it’s alright, it’s not that bad.”
“Stop talking to me.”
“Just hold onto me love and…”
“Stoppppp…talkinngg..too…meee. Thisss is terribleeee….” I struggled to reply, as the words barely came out of my mouth.
She just stood there perfectly balanced as we bobbed up and down. Then suddenly there was a sharp cry from the top deck, as the member of parliaments (I’ll refer to him from now on as MOP) daughter slipped on the deck and struck her face. Thankfully she wasn’t injured but her father did bring her below and into the cabin to rest.
Meanwhile I had managed to pull myself along the rail (as everyone else was freely walking) to the pilot house, peering inside I saw the captain at the helm.
“Is this bad? The waves seem really high.” I asked.
He turned and stared at me, his weathered face and grey beard with light brown streaks slightly improved my morale, as it gave me the comfort that he was experienced but yet not too old to be crazy.
“No, no. By dis ain’t bad at all. She’s rollin’ a bit but not bad. Seen worse then dis.”
We started to near our tourist destination. I looked off the bow and saw an island full of Puffins, small white and black birds with bright orange/yellowish beaks. As we neared closer to the shore, the water became so much calmer, as the boat was sheltered from the wind. I took these moments to gather my composure as I walked around the deck, sightseeing like everyone else (even though moments before I had been groping onto every support possible).
The calm didn’t last long.
Off we headed back to Bay Bull’s. As soon as the boat left the protected shield of the island, we started rockin and ah rollin’.
*Up and Down* *Up and Down*
(I apologize if I am making you feel sick!).
It got worse.
I started to urge. For all my past travels on the water, I can’t recall throwing up. The tour guide saw my face and heard my moans and came over and advised me to sit in the middle of the boat on the back bench, located at the stern. I followed her advice. Then guess who sat next to me?
He turned and looked at my discoloured face and after hearing me urge multiple time. It set him off.
We both started urging and moaning together in sequence. In an attempt to comfort him, I rested my hand on his back, and started to rub it, whispering comforting words:
“It’s alright man. Everything is going to be okay man.” I said.
“Oh lordddd….” he moaned and followed suite.
Well this continued all the way back to Bay Bulls. Two grown men, one a University student and the other a MOP, moaning and groaning all the way back to the docks.
As we neared the shore my sea sickness miraculously subsided (particularly because I saw my vehicle) while dear MOP’s was only beginning. Apparently as we left the boat he couldn’t even drive as he was that sick, and it continued throughout the day.
Like Sailors of Old
My latest seafaring experience took place in the latter part of August or early September of 2019. It all started when I mentioned to Melissa’s cousin, Chip, about joining him on his sailboat the next time he went sailing. I thought it would be a great time for us to connect as I didn’t really “know” him, as we mostly saw each other in passing at church or occasionally at my In-Laws house. My wish was granted not long after when he phoned me and asked if I wanted to go with him and his two sons.
The time had come. I had asked and now I was receiving.
The next day I watched as Chip pulled up into my driveway in his truck. There was no turning back now. I gathered my gear, a hoodie and a backpack, and ventured out my door.
It was go time.
I hopped in the cab of the truck with Chip and his sons, Josh and Zach. As we drove to Holyrood (a 15 minute drive) I started to have mixed feelings. One side of me was excited to be exploring the beautiful waters off Conception Bay South; thankful that someone with a boat was willing to take me. The other side of me was hoping for smooth sailing, as I didn’t want to start off our first trip with me frozen in place grabbing ahold of something.
We travelled along the main road in Holyrood, a small town hugging the coastline in Conception Bay, the scenery is quite beautiful with towering hills and ocean coastline. Just outside the community is the wharf where Chip’s sailboat was docked. As we drove down the side road which led to his boat, I could see about a dozen or so yachts and sailboats packed in like sardines next to each other. I followed the guys along the dock, across a floating platform and onto the boat. The water looked like glass. I thought to myself “This ain’t gonna be so bad?”
Chip fired up the motor and Josh and Zach zig zagged this way and that, unhooking ropes and preparing the sails. I stood by like a helpless whelp, afraid to unhook a rope for fear of unfurling a sail and tossing myself into the sea. They didn’t seem to mind though as the look on my face probably alerted them to “AVOID ME. DON’T PICK ME.” You know the same look on your face when back in school the teacher would ask for a volunteer to read the hardest paragraph, and no one would answer…then she’d look at you. Well that look was written all over my face.
Off we went.
The boat started to pick up speed as the wind caught the sail as a nice steady wind pushed us out of the cove. The motor was turned off and wind power commenced. I then found something out very quickly. A sailboat leans very, very hard to its side when the sails are catching the wind. In other words:
“Christian feel uneasy in a boat that tips.”
So now I am tipped completely to one side, clipping along the water. Feeling the wind in my hair and the spray of the ocean on my face. Like a sailors of old, faring the seas with a dogged determination, we made our way out of Holyrood into the wider waters of Conception Bay. I sat on a hump and marvelled at the speed of the boat, my fellow sailors, were busy hauling lines and tacking (I believe thats what happened😉) the sail to try and catch the wind to further increase our speed.
“Turn into the wind!” Chip called.
I held onto the side of the boat, gripping with all my strength as the boat started to lean on it’s side even more. Good Lord I thought I would fall in the ocean!
“Man this is fast.” I recalled myself mummering.
Apparently this wasn’t the case.
We were crawling.
I watched as Chip turned the wheel ever so slightly to try and catch more wind, while his sons were busy with the rope for the sails. We weren’t going any faster. The wind just wasn’t strong enough to increase our speed as we exited the cove.
With a disappointed look Chip restarted the motor to help the boat along. We were putting along like a whale that ate to much caplin.
It was just my speed.
This coming from the guy who avoided any roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland. In fact I stuck to the Swan Ride.
Yes, this cruising speed was just right for me.
Unlike my past water experiences, where I went out on the water and suffered, this trip from Holyrood was different. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Exploring the waters of Conception Bay, the same waters in fact that hold cannon balls from the 1600’s -1700’s, discharged from the cannons of Royal Navy frigates chasing down pirates lurking in the Newfoundland waters.
Also in those same waters rest four iron ore boats at the bottom of the ocean near Bell Island. These ships were attacked in 1942, two at a time, by German U-boats. As we sailed across the water filled with history, I could almost picture mentally the explosions rocking the area, as torpedoes detonated against metal hulls carrying precious Iron for the war effort. The thought of a U-Boat lurking underneath our sailboat sent a shiver down my spine. I appreciate all the more the bravery of the young men who risked and gave their lives during wartime. Which then got me thinking.
If I had let my fear control me, because of my past negative experiences on the water, I would have never experienced that moment. Why? Because I wouldn’t have asked Chip in the first place if I could go. And if I didn’t ask Chip if I could go, I wouldn’t have had such a fantastic time with him and the guys.
Fear is debilitating.
What did I do differently this time, as opposed to my past trips?
I prayed before we even left the dock.
My prayer was simple (as prayer was never meant to be complicated): Lord, come with me and protect me.
I instantly felt peace. I also felt the desire to trust in God and also the people I was travelling with. Chip is an experienced waterman, as is his sons. I am not. However I can trust their abilities and rely upon their skills. Once this dawned on me I discovered something I had been missing for years.
I do not have to be afraid of the ocean.
I leave with you today this thought. There is freedom when you give away your burdens. I would wager that 99.9% of people do NOT want to bear your burden. Sure, some people may offer to help you while others will flatly ignore you. However no one wants to take the burden from you and live with it themselves. Do you struggle with depression? I would like to help you in some capacity but honestly, I don’t want your depression. Are you sick with some incurable disease? I hope and pray that you will get better and that I can help in some way, however do I want you to give me that same disease to suffer from it myself? No.
God though, He actually WANTS you to give Him your burdens. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 12:28
It doesn’t matter what you are going through. Period. He is there, if you ask Him into your life, to bear everything you struggle with.
Next time I venture to the seas, sure I might get nervous a bit seeing the waves slapping and the wind ripping. However, I will remember that the same God who made me, also made those waves. Therefore I do not need to be afraid. You don’t need to be afraid either.
Let’s start this New Year right.
(PS. I still like my Swan Ride’s).