A few years ago, we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in a small, remote community in British Columbia; right in the heart of the mountains yet minutes away from the ocean. It was accessible only by helicopter or water. The beauty of the country, community, opportunities, wildlife, and excellent fishing were only some of the great attractions.
Once there, Earl was inspired for both of us to take in-depth Coast Guard Auxiliary courses so we would be confident on the high seas, should we purchase a boat. He was also inspired to be well prepared for any situation. Earl made sure we had all the essential tools to keep us safe. One of these items was a VHF Radio to send and receive distress calls to the Coast Guard and other boaters. Second, we had a GPS so we always knew where we were, the direction we were going, and the ETA so we would be found if something happened. Third, Earl made sure we had nautical charts for marine navigation.
It wasn’t long before we had our own twenty-five-foot boat, decked out with all the latest tools and gadgets. We were ready to go exploring in a safe way.
Our day of adventure on open water
The day arrived and a decision was made to chart a course to Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island; about a 230 nautical mile trip. Darren, our son, and a friend of ours came along to share the fun.
Captain Earl Steves took command as we headed out into open water. The thrill of it all is beyond imagination. Everything was perfect as we started out, but over time, swells started to appear. As we motored along, the swells grew into waves.
Earl monitored the situation as the weather eventually turned into a dark, howling storm as he maneuvered the boat in the intensity of the ever-growing height of the waves. He considered piloting into an inlet to wait out the storm in safety, but he felt it wasn’t close enough. The storm seemed to intensify with each minute. The Spirit whispered to “stay the course.”
Darren recalls being thrown around with the waves crashing, and at one point going up a wave and being hurled around. At one point, Darren looked outside and discovered the utility boat was now unsecure and banging around ready to be blown off by the waves and high winds. He and our friend could barely hang on or stand up as they braved the storm and went out to secure the utility boat in case we needed it later to save our lives.
Years later Darren marvels how we all remained perfectly calm. No one panicked. This left the biggest impression on him.
MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
Under this set of circumstances, and with divine guidance, Earl pressed the radio transmit button and clearly said three times, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY. He gave our vessel’s name; our exact position; the nature of our emergency; and the number of people on board. And then said, “over.”
There was an immediate response from the Coast Guard. They informed us that there was no safe place for us to go to wait out the storm. We had no choice but proceed to port. They told him to continue to pilot our boat as he had already been doing, direct to Port Hardy. They would have a warm welcoming committee waiting to meet us upon our arrival, which they did.
Over the years we have relived this moment many times. Earl says he felt the hand of the Lord guiding his every decision. This included navigation courses, training, tools,choosing the perfect boat to withstand the horrific pressures to be placed upon it, and the skills and abilities to navigate the raging storm without incident.
Preparation and blessings go hand in hand
We learned a great lesson about the power of thankfulness and meaningful prayer. We were blessed with inspiration about a host of issues that were pressing upon our minds and stirring in our hearts. The Spirit provided the needed reassurance and strengthened our confidence that all would be well in our particular situation.
Darren summed it up as he reminisced, “Without the promptings of the Spirit, Dad and Mom would not have been so well prepared. We would have been a wreck at the bottom of the ocean.”
Besides being prepared, President Russell M. Nelson reminds us that listening to the Spirit is necessary while weathering a storm at sea or a storm in life. The principles are the same: “Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly” (Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives, Ensign, May 2018).