Captain Menace and the Blond Haired Anchor Girl
See that boat on the far left? The one half way up the photo?
It's a 1976 Ericson 32 named Erie Traveler. It's owned by Brad and Charmaine Brindley, 40-somethings from Sandusky, Ohio. Two years ago when Brad lost his job at the marketing firm he'd been with for 16 years, his already substantial appetite for bourbon began to spiral out of control. As their savings began to dwindle and their marriage began to fail, Brad decided a complete change of pace was in order. They had enjoyed many weekend sails on Lake Erie through the years, so they sold most everything they owned, moved onto their boat, and sailed down to the Caribbean. He was certain if he just took a year to relax and clear his head, he could get the drinking under control and get his marriage back on track.
That was 19 months ago. He's drinking more than ever now, has no plan for the future, and though he doesn't know it, Charmaine is seriously considering taking a cab to the airport and flying back to Ohio to live with her sister when they reach St. Thomas.
See that big catamaran about 1/4 of the way across the page from the right?
Frank and Tammy Morandini are living aboard that one. After several grueling rounds of chemo-therapy and radiation 8 years ago, Tammy's breast cancer went into remission. Last month she found out the cancer is back, but it's spread all through her body this time. She's simply not willing to go through the agony of treatment again, so she and Frank are spending whatever time they can doing her favorite thing - cruising their Lagoon 40, Our Kid's Inheritance, around the Caribbean. Soon enough, they'll have to sail back to Florida where doctors can try to make her comfortable for the end. Tammy doesn't know if she believes in an afterlife or not, and although she doesn't have anyone to talk to about it, she's quite scared to die.
Nick Wilcox, feeling his life a bit too sedate, sailed his Contessa 32, Fantasy Girl, all the way from London to the Caribbean.
His boat is the one in the middle towards the top that looks like it has a tent over it. Nick's boat wasn't ready for a voyage like the one he has taken and consequently, he has been plagued with mechanical problems. He's not very knowledgeable in matters of boat repair, so he's spent a lot of money paying others to repair it. So much money in fact, that he is now completely broke with further repairs still needed if he is to sail her home. He cannot legally work in any of the nearby island countries and he has no idea what he's going to do. So here he is in this anchorage - hoping for a miracle.
And finally there's Joe and Elena Valencia aboard their beautiful Southerly 47, Following the Sun. It's anchored just outside the frame of the photo to the right.
They're from Charleston, South Carolina and they spend six months every year enjoying the cruising lifestyle. They're a Christian couple in their 50's, and if they were aware of the life circumstances of any of those around them, they would be inclined to help in any way they could. They're unaware of these circumstances because they're a little uncomfortable with all the drinking that takes place on most of the other boats, so they tend to keep to themselves. The truth is, Joe and Elena have both been feeling some conviction about the life they live while they're out cruising. They serve Jesus faithfully when they're at home, but it's as if the spiritual aspect of their lives just gets put on hold while they're out sailing. Without the influence of their local church, there's no one to spur them on, no one to worship with, and no one to minister with. They've seen some of the abject poverty on many of the islands, but they simply don't feel equipped to help on their own. They desperately need the encouragement and fellowship of other believers, but as far as they can tell, there are none.
In actuality, there is another couple and two families in this very harbor in the same position.
What none of the people aboard any of these boats know is that in about 10 minutes a 1985 Endeavor 37 named Born Again is going to carefully motor into this anchorage.
At the helm is Russ, a 54 year old man whose demeanor is considerably more menacing than his actual temperament. At the bow, getting ready to drop the anchor at his command, is a tall, blond-haired beauty, Amy - his faithful wife, first mate, best friend and co-laborer.
They work well together anchoring the boat, and when they're certain it's secure, they hop into their 8 foot dinghy, and as they do every Saturday before sundown, they set out to visit the other boats with an invitation. The conversations go something like this:
"Hey, I don't know if you folks are church-goers or not, but we just wanted you to know we'll be having a church service on our boat tomorrow morning, and if you're interested, we'd love to have you join us."
"Really!? You're having church out here on the water?"
"You bet! We're going to sing praises, hear from God's word, and just enjoy hanging out together. It'll be great!"
"Well OK then. Thanks for the invite!"
Of course there are those who are far less congenial., and there are those who are genuinely excited. And much to Russ and Amy's pleasure, there were a couple folks who said "Oh yeah, we've heard of you guys. You sail around doing this all over the Caribbean don't you?" Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, we do.
So what happens next in this quiet little harbor?
God only knows. Maybe it'll be like one of those Alex Kendrick movies where everyone comes to know Jesus with tears in their eyes and a Casting Crowns song playing in the background. Yeah, I doubt it too, but with God, all things are possible, right?
How about if we settle for this: If Gods people, proclaiming God's word, intersect with even one of the people described above, the stage is set for the miraculous to occur.
Can I get an amen!?
You've probably already figured this out, but
I don't actually know any of the people in that anchorage. I grabbed the image off Pexels and posted it on my blog to make a point. Judging by the color of the water, I seriously doubt it's even in the Caribbean.
But do we really have any reason to doubt that there were stories just like the ones I've told occurring on those boats when that photo was captured? Of course not! Brad's an alcoholic. Tammy's dying of cancer, Nick's in financial straights, and Joe's trying to figure how to spiritually lead his home in a God-glorifying way. Is this not your neighborhood? And is that anchorage not just a transients neighborhood on the water?
It's because of their transient nature that it's hard to get a census on the number of people living either part or full-time aboard boats in the Caribbean. But it is safe to say there are literally thousands of anchorages scattered across the region, many of which have dozens, if not hundreds of boats in them at any given time. And we do know that the number of people living a full-time cruising lifestyle is growing rapidly every year. It would not be in the least absurd to guess that there are 200,000 people living their lives on boats sailing around the Caribbean.
How and where is Christ being represented in all this?
As far as I can tell, He's not. I'm not saying that the light of Christ does not shine anywhere in the Caribbean. It does not take an extensive Google search to find God's people serving all around the area. But the ministries are all focused on the impoverished or hurricane stricken islanders, not those living the cruising life.
It is in this gap that Amy and I intend to serve. Our vision for how we will do that is growing and changing, and I'm sure will grow and change much more once we are actually there implementing that vision, but I believe it will look a lot like the scenario I described above.
Traditional wisdom would suggest that this post is too long.
So if you're still with me, thank you! If you want to hear how Amy and I came to the decision to voyage into this ministry, or how we are planning to transition from our land-locked, Midwestern existence to this nautical adventure, please hit the subscribe button to receive all of our posts directly to your inbox. And if you've found this post interesting and enjoyable, please share it!