No Greater Joy

8:30 PM

Tattoos covering his hefty body, a skull ring for each of his fingers, and a blonde mohawk pulled back in a ponytail. Polar opposite of my simple, southern housewife look (actually, I"m not really sure what look I have). And yet here we are, floating in the bay under the Sarasota skyline, becoming fast friends. The sea has a way of building community unlike anything I’ve seen. Back home, it seems you have to be a certain something or dress a certain way to be included, and I often feel out of place. In the cruising world, economic class, where you’ve come from, how you look and dress, is overcome by a love of the water and a yearning to explore the world by way of its oceans. On the water, there is an instant bond and sense of belonging. On land I imagine I would get funny looks if I entered his world, and he in mine. Shane stopped by on his jet ski to say hello, and returns to visit the following day, but turns down a drink, being that he is four years sober. And so we sit and talk for a while and get to know his story. Everyone has a story, and his is gut wrenching.

Sober, looking for a new start, and tired of the rat race, Shane would stand on shore, look out over the water and dream of sailing away. It made sense to live on the water, it was a cheaper life than that of a landlubber. So he bought a boat and when work let up he set sail. He had only been sailing four times. But Shane has this, “I can handle it” kind of attitude. Perhaps to his detriment. It was August and he pointed his bow south. Never mind the dark clouds in the distance. He actually made a video and laughed at them, which he soon would regret. A mere 6 miles from where he pulled his hook, he was in the heart of the storm. What he had thought to be a rainstorm, was actually a tropical storm. His boat began to break, he and his poor little dachshund, Harley, were being tossed about. Suddenly Harley was thrown overboard. But he was tethered in, and had a life jacket. Shane pulled the tether to rescue Harley, only to find an empty life jacket attached at the end of the line. He did everything he could to try and reach Harley, but with a broken  boom, and a motor that wouldn’t start, there was nothing he could do. He watched as his companion, his best friend, drifted away behind the waves. Awaiting his rescue from the Coast Guard, Shane said, “I laid there and I prayed for Harley, and I prayed for myself.”  God answered those prayers. The next day, Shane received a call to discover beyond his wildest dreams, Harley had been found. That little dog, in the middle of a great big ocean, without a life jacket, made it to shore. He traveled not only the six miles out, but another 6 or so south of where he was thrown from the boat. I cannot imagine the tremendous emotions of fear, and loss, and sadness, only to be overwhelmed with happiness for both Shane and that little dog. Sometimes we pray and we don’t see God’s hand. Sometimes we pray and we see that He truly has the whole world, even the little bitty doggies, in His hands. And when we do see it, there is no greater joy.

With the loss of his boat, Shane went back to a life on land. He still comes to the shore look out at the harbor or rides his jet ski through the mooring field, and dreams of sailing away. And he will. He’s looking for a boat and hopes to sail south in August. Fair winds Shane, fair winds. And watch out for those rain storms.

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