Yikes

The Canadian Coast Guard requires that all Pleasure Craft between 6m and 8m in length (19 ft- 24 ft) must have:

  • one life jacket per occupant
  • one lifebuoy with a 15m rope
  • one bailing bucket or manual water pump
  • fire extinguisher
  • watertight flashlight
  • sound signalling device
  • navigational lights and
  • either a manual populsion device (oar, back-up motor) or an anchor with at least 15 of rope

They are serious about each of these things.  Time does not permit my story about how I was given a $150 ticket because I left my whistle at home (see bullet #6).  I have given all of these requirements some thought and they all have some merit.

Lifejacket, of course, I wouldn’t be caught on a boat without one.  What I do find amusing is that you don’t have to wear it!  It just has to be on board?! 

Lifebouy, fire extinguisher, bailer, all good things.  The one I puzzled over was the manual propulsion device or anchor.  Don’t those seem to have opposite purposes?  Why would either one or the other suffice?  Like I said, they take this all very seriously.  When I was ‘pulled over’ they wanted to see all these things.  I showed them my anchor and that was enough.  They didn’t want to see my $5 Canadian Tire oars.  How could these two things accomplish the same thing in the eyes of the Coast Guard?  It wasn’t until later that I realized how these two things solve the same problem in two very different ways. 

I was out sailing on Lake Ontario in my sailboat and was a few hundred yards from the breakwall just outside the Jordan Marina.  It was at that time that my outboard motor stalled.  Not quite far enough out to really ‘ply the seas’ but far enough for me to be in trouble.  There was a strong onshore breeze that was pushing my boat into the breakwall; slowly but surely.  The waves were “fetching” which means they were bouncing off the breakwall and coming back out and combining with the other waves on the way in.  I was bobbing like a cork and furiously trying to start the motor, while watching the wall approach.

I needed some time to get my motor working and so I threw my anchor overboard (after tying it to the boat!).  It settled on the sandy clay on the bottom and dug in.  This is when I realized why either of these tools will do. 

I either needed to stop drifting, or move in a different direction; either would do.  The only thing I didn’t want to do is just keep drifting.

The spiritual application is this: “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll” don’t we?  Jesus can be counted on.  The unchanging nature of God gives us stability and a sure foundation to depend on. 

You really have a completely different appreciation for what ‘depending on an anchor’ means when you have depended on one.  Once it disappears below the surface of the water you really can’t see what it is doing at all.  The rope will suddenly seem taut but you are left wondering, “Will it hold?”

While on my honeymoon my new bride and I rented a houseboat and were travelling the Trent Severn Waterways.  We decided to pause in Lake Scugog for an afternoon nap.  In what appeared like the middle of the lake on a fairly calm day I let down the anchor and felt it catch.  Feeling pretty confident I went into the cabin for a snooze. 

I was gently aroused a couple hours later by the gentle sound of tree branches gently swishing on the roof of the boat…  Trees?!?!  We were supposed to be in the middle of the lake!  I went up on deck to find we had drifted with the wind to the very edge of the lake and were dangerously close to coming aground.  I never trusted the anchor of that boat ever again.

Using an anchor is a faith exercise.  Once the appropriate amount of rope has been let out you must trust that it will hold.  It is up to the anchor and it’s suitability to the terrain. 

We have a multi-purpose anchor in Jesus Christ that is suited to any terrain.  He can be depended on without reservation to keep us from destruction no matter what storm we must ride out.

I did manage to get my motor started by the way, and with the choke manually held in position I motored the boat over where the anchor had settled and it popped up without incident.  Saved by the anchor and not by the oar.

Isaiah writes: 

      Do you not know?
       Have you not heard?
       The LORD is the everlasting God,
       the Creator of the ends of the earth.
       He will not grow tired or weary,
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

      He gives strength to the weary
       and increases the power of the weak.

      Even youths grow tired and weary,
       and young men stumble and fall;

     but those who hope in the LORD
       will renew their strength.
       They will soar on wings like eagles;
       they will run and not grow weary,
       they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40: 28-31

Those who hope, or as the NASB says wait, on the Lord; those who put their faith in the Lord and depend on him despite the storm are restored.  They are saved from certain (and deserved) destruction and can sail away in peace.

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