Big Events can occur in our lives. Events of such magnitude that we are forced to stop in our own little tracks as the world itself continues to whirl around us. In these powerful moments, we are forced to confront changes to our personal evolution. Sometimes, find ourselves to be different afterward.
This past Sunday morning, Deputy Dave planned a Memorial Weekend kayaking/fishing trip with his brother. Deputy Dave ended up launching his kayak at Mosquito Island. We live near the bay, close to Galveston, so ocean kayaking is a huge part of Deputy Dave's fishing lifestyle. On this morning, he'd left the house before dawn after he loaded up the kayak with all of his fishing gear, to include his sparkling new rod and reel. He stopped for a cup of coffee on the way to the water, then he set out to fish in conditions that made for slightly choppy water.
Still, it was a gorgeous day, perfect for fishing. As he kayaked, he realized that Kevin, his brother, would not be showing up. It seems his brother had partied too hard the previous night and would not feel like getting up early to paddle through the ocean for hours. So, Deputy Dave kept fishing, solo.
On a roll, he caught four trout. Early in the morning, around 7am, as he kayaked near the shoreline in continued solitude, he was happy to see a fishing guide appear nearby. The guide had one client onboard; fishing next to each other, they began to have a good conversation that included trading stories about their fishing techniques and successes over the past couple of days. Everyone savored the beautiful day at this rather remote location.
|Photo from that morning.|
He didn't have to worry about boating traffic or competing fisherman in the area because Deputy Dave was out there alone, except for the fishing guide left back near the shoreline, the disappearing shoreline.
Once he began to reel and to fight the fish, Deputy Dave was fully enjoying his sharpened focus on catching the Amber-Jack, so fully that he'd not realized he was now approximately four miles from shore. As he gained distance from shore, it appeared the waters had also become more choppy and within seconds, the excitement twisted into dread.
An initial large rogue wave hit the front of the kayak so hard that it popped his front cover open and without a moment to gather a second thought, more waves battered the kayak. Since the front hull cover had been popped off by the sheer force of the wave, the following waves filled the kayak hull in an instant. In happened in seconds. Deputy Dave didn't even have time to panic as the kayak's front end dipped down into the depths of the ocean while the rest of the kayak followed into the depths to sink completely, tossing him out in the process.
Since the Texas sun had appeared before the kayak sank, it had become very hot and uncomfortable during the fight with the Amber-Jack, so in the frenzy, Deputy Dave had done the unthinkable, he'd slipped his lifejacket off and it had been laying behind him on the kayak. Thankfully, he managed to grab the vest as the kayak sunk. Slipping his arms in into the lifevest, he then leaned back in the water to get it zipped. He had one old fishing pole, the bag of fish he'd already caught, and he was able to swim to catch the paddle.
In shock that his kayak had disappeared into the ocean, he began looking around and no one was in sight. The shoreline was miles away. He tried to use the paddle to reach the bottom of the ocean floor so he could gauge the depth, which was apparently about 10 feet deep for that particular place. For a moment, he felt as if he might end up to be a Memorial Day statistic. He also knew that I would not raise the alert for many hours because he sometimes doesn't come back from fishing until around 3pm. In that case, if he couldn't get help or swim the four miles to shore, in increasingly rough waters, he might be in the water for 8 hours, at least.
Deputy Dave keeps an anchor on the boat and a miracle for the kayak occurred after it had tipped; the anchor fell out and hit ground to drag on the ocean floor. The anchor hitting bottom forced the kayak to be pulled against the current beneath the water. This action caused the kayak's front tip to again pop up above the surface, but only about three inches of the kayak reappeared topside. Deputy Dave swam over to the kayak to see if there were any way to get the kayak topside again. After many tries, it was apparent that there wasn't anything he could do to get the kayak to float. It remained almost completely submerged, except for those three inches that bobbed above the waterline.
Everything onboard the kayak was gone...the fishing net, cast net, two tackle boxes, brand new rods and reels, but the thing he complained about the most, with humor, was the cup of coffee that was wasted. The kayak went under with the coffee cup more than half full. The ocean finished off his coffee.
Little did Deputy Dave know, the fishing guide he'd left at the shoreline earlier that morning had been keeping an eye on Deputy Dave as he and his client continued to fish that area. The fishing guide had thankfully not rushed off to another fishing hole, instead, he had stayed put while watching Deputy Dave nearly disappear offshore. Obviously, the fishing guide felt uneasy about the entire situation, but he and his client kept fishing. The next time the guide looked up to search the horizon for the kayaker, he could not see the kayak or the fisherman who we all know as "Deputy Dave." The kayaker he'd been talking with earlier that morning had suddenly disappeared completely from view.
Most of us understand that this moment was a pivotal deciding point for Deputy Dave's survival; either that fishing guide could've shrugged off the disappearance as no big deal or he could've done exactly as he choose to do and acted upon the bad feeling with not being able to see the kayaker any longer. Fortunately, the fishing guide had alarm bells ringing, so he told his client that their fishing adventure would be taking a detour so they could go out a few miles to search for the kayaker that suddenly could not be seen in the distance.
Meanwhile, Deputy Dave is in the water, very frustrated. He's realizing how bad things have gone, in a blink of an eye. One moment, the morning was a beautiful fishing day with a nice fish pulling on his line and the next moment he's been forced to cut his line to try to save himself from capsizing, but it was too late...the waves had made up their mind to take him down. He was shocked that the kayak completely sunk.
As my dad said later that day, in this area of water, he'd not want to be out of a boat for ANYTHING. Deputy Dave didn't even think about the sharks in the area. He only thought about being so far from shore while facing the fact that no boaters were in sight. He'd only seen that one fishing guide in the few hours he'd been kayaking that morning. Ships were in the far distance, but he was alone in the water, relying on his lifejacket to keep him afloat. Minutes were ticking by. Personally, I don't know how he kept from panicking. But, he said that God gave him a deep sense of calm.
Then, after spending about 30 minutes in the water near the sunk kayak, he hears the motor of a boat approaching. He takes his paddle and waves it around in the air. He could tell the boater was searching for him because he kept circling in the same area. FINALLY, the guide kept circling until he found Deputy Dave in the water and the fishing guide joined Deputy Dave's shock at seeing the kayak submerged. The guide could not believe it had sunk. The scene must have been eerie.
The fishing guide owned a flat bottom boat. He and his client pulled Deputy Dave aboard, then decided they would try to save the kayak. Deputy Dave didn't care at this point, he was so thankful to be out of the ocean. But, the fishing guide and his client were determined to lug the kayak out of the water onto the flat bottom boat. Problem with that plan is that once they began to pull it onboard, the kayak instantly began pouring water out of the hull, about 400 pounds of water, onto the floor of the guide's boat. To make matters more complicated, the fishing guide's bilge pump was not kicking on, so his boat end started to sink.
The guide's client was determined to get the kayak on board, but Deputy Dave told the guide to start the boat forward so the water would flow off the back of the kayak into the ocean instead onto the boat floor. Frankly, Deputy Dave wanted to leave the kayak behind. But, the fishermen were determined to save the kayak. Finally, with the boat moving slowly forward, the bilge pump kicked on. Deputy Dave said it was another tense moment because he certainly didn't want to be in the ocean with two lost boats and three men stuck at the mercy of the ocean.
So, by the end of the ordeal, Deputy Dave had beautiful rescuers who saved his life and his boat. Everything on the boat could be easily replaced, payday to payday!
|The wave hit so hard that it popped off the cover|
to the hull, which immediately filled with water
from the following waves battering the kayak. In mere seconds,
the boat went under and Deputy Dave was tossed out.
By the time all three men reached the shore, it was still early in the morning, probably just after 9am. The fishing guide would not give his name because he didn't want to be thanked for saving somebody...he just thought it was all in God's plan, but he was definitely upset by the ordeal. He tried to go back out for more fishing with his client, but ended up making a short circle to come right back to shore and load up as Deputy Dave himself was getting ready to drive off.
Deputy Dave said he'd never forget this man's pro-active mentality that led to life-saving actions. If that man had been flat out lazy or disinterested, Deputy Dave might not be around to enjoy more days of fishing. It's great that Deputy Dave had someone, a stranger, looking over him...God put him in the right place to find himself tossed out of a sunk kayak.
And since the Deputy has means of tracking down anyone he'd like in this area, the thank you is not an issue he'll drop. It wouldn't matter if this man were up for murder next week, he'll be getting a thank you from Deputy Dave. Since the guide didn't have any official signs on his boat, he'll be found through other methods. But after a bit of research is conducted, we will probably set up a fishing trip with him and do it on a personal level.
Even though Deputy Dave's brother wasn't there that morning, it worked out beautifully. I felt, if Kevin had been there, he might have tried o save Deputy Dave and the situation might have been worse. Regardless, Kevin would have had those same brutal waves hit his own kayak. Even though his kayak is newer and more stable, it's still a kayak, subject to Mother Nature's mean hand. Getting a capsized six-plus-foot man back to shore with one kayak between the two would not have been an easy task.
I don't care how "good" Kevin's kayak is built, they are all dinky floating toys compared to the ocean's wrath.
Later that same day, we went to meet my sister at The Top Water Grill for her birthday. We did our best to keep moving through our day, as if the ocean had not tried to claim my husband for its own treasure.
I'm glad we actually got to celebrate a birthday on this day and not be forced to conduct a search and rescue mission. At the restaurant, as we waited for everyone else to show up, Deputy Dave took a few moments to savor his second chance.
And to have a few beers.
I also thought about young Cody Norris, a hometown hero who served in Afghanistan and was killed in action. I stood with townspeople, back in November, to welcome him on his final journey to his resting place located around the corner from our home.
And, I thought about having my husband at home with me as I hugged him goodnight. I took the time to close my eyes and to savor the feel of his body wrapped in my embrace while knowing that it all could be gone, in the blink of an eye.
This weekend, I had many reasons for allowing myself to have quiet, deep thoughts and to give thanksgiving for good people in this world who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others.
For me, as of this Memorial Day weekend, that fishing guide and client were added to my list of heroes.