Or Captain Abstinence and the Rejection
We're getting to the exciting part! It's so exciting I can't be bothered with my usual semi-fictional, flash-forward blog intro.
None of this seems like some vague possibility in the distant future any longer. We are just one step away from this being a done deal. My heart quickens just thinking about it.
And yet, it is of the utmost importance that we keep our excitement in check as we navigate this next, most important step of all - the buying of our sailing vessel and home. The selection and purchase of the future Born Again will affect our lives in an immense way for the foreseeable future. We must follow God's Spirit in this. We must take our time and be patient. We must put seaworthiness above flashiness, and practicality above aesthetics. But that's not to say that we're not looking for a pretty boat with a few extras, it's just to say that we have to keep our priorities in focus.
The boat in these three photos is a Bayfield 40. This is one of the many models under serious consideration. Today it is my favorite, but yesterday it was not, and it probably won't be tomorrow. She's a ketch (two masts) and a cutter (two sails forward of the main mast) with beautiful lines, a full keel, spacious interior, and a good reputation.
She was built in Canada, weighs in at 21,000 pounds with 8200 pounds of ballast, and has a draft (the part of the boat under the water line) of 4' 11". Her overall length is 45 feet, but 5 feet of that is the bowsprit, so the length on deck is an even 40 feet. Her beam (width at the widest point) is 12 feet.
She is a little bigger than what we were looking at a couple weeks ago, but successfully docking a 52 footer a couple times last week in sailing school built my confidence, so we have extended our search parameters from a maximum length of 39 feet to a slightly larger 42 feet.
The particular Bayfield 40 that we are looking at is located in the Miami area. It has some, but certainly not all of the equipment that we find essential to how we will use the boat. It is priced so that after purchase, taxes, and miscellaneous fees, we would have in the neighborhood of $20,000 to put into upgrades. $20,000 goes very quickly in the boat owner's world. Much, much more quickly than in the homeowner's world.
I could easily write another five or six paragraphs about just this particular vessel, and then multiply that by the 25 or so other vessels we have under consideration. That list grows and shrinks regularly as we find new boats to consider, and others under consideration get sold to someone else. Or as was the case last week, we eliminate them by viewing them and deciding they are not the boat for us.
The list contains boats ranging in size from 36 to 42 feet. There are sloops, cutters and ketches located from Baltimore to Miami on the eastern seaboard, and throughout the Caribbean. There's even one on a large lake in the middle of South Carolina.
Our hope is to find the right boat in Florida. That would enable us to still be in the U.S. where we can work if necessary, and family and friends can easily visit if they choose. How much time we will take getting the boat outfitted and really learning how she sails is an unknown. I'd like to think it'll only be a few months and we'll be gone before the end of 2020, but I'm prepared to wait until the end of the 2021 hurricane season if that's what makes sense. In any case, Florida would be a good place to spend that time, however long it might be. With that said, if we find Born Again on a lake in South Carolina, or a mooring field in Martinique, we'll make adjustments and carry on.
Wherever we spend that time, we will continue to do what we have always done and what we will always do: shine the light of the gospel to those that God puts in our path to the best of our abilities. Of course our ultimate goal is to do that within the Caribbean cruising community, but that doesn't mean we will wait to serve the Lord until we reach that destination. Our lives are His to use wherever we are.
Last week was a great example of how difficult that can be at times. While the sailing aspect of my six day class in St. Petersburg was quite good, the ministry aspect was quite a struggle.
Quite frankly, I didn't arrive there with a ministry mindset. I paid a lot of money for the class and I was not there to give, but to receive. This was a time to put the gospel on the back burner and concentrate on sailing so I could get to the ministry part sooner. Silly me...
On the second day of class a conversation about beer drinking, and specifically my abstinence from it led to a series a questions which resulted in me proclaiming my Christian faith to the very worldly captain and my two classmates..
"So you're a religious man then?" says the captain.
"Well, I go to church on Sundays, read my bible, and try to walk with Jesus. If that makes me religious or not, I don't know." I said.
"We haven't been offending you have we?"
"No sir, I am not that easily offended"
" OK guys," the captain declares to the other men "I guess that's a challenge. We're going to have to try harder to offend this man!"
He was mostly kidding when he said it, but it had been made clear at that point, that I was not going to be one of them. I would be the outsider. As he shared stories from his life through the week, detailing things I would be ashamed to admit in my circle of friends, he would watch me through the corner of his eye, hoping he had shocked or offended me. Little did he know that I could have made his tales pale in comparison with accounts from my own life, but I didn't feel like sharing those was going to help me represent Jesus, so I refrained from that.
In the end, between jabs at my prudish, Christian ways, I was able to share my faith a little, and I'd like to think brought a little of God's light into the environment. Did it make a difference? I don't know. That's not my department. I just try to walk through the doors that God opens and let Him deal with the rest of it.
I think the whole thing was good for me. It gave me a glimpse into what we can expect ministry in the Caribbean cruising community to look like. It occurs to me that ministry in Monmouth, Illinois has gotten comfortable. At work, church, and home, I'm in environments where the gospel is embraced, and I very seldom feel rejection as a result of my faith. Even in the recovery ministry where I assumed we would interact with many non-believers, the name of Jesus never seems to offend. Seldom does a non-believer walk through the doors, and if they do, they don't usually stick around once they hear what we're about.
I'm not so naive as to call this rejection that I experienced persecution, but it is not fun either. We all want to be accepted and even liked. Fortunately, the joy, peace, and contentment that comes from obeying Jesus, is overwhelmingly greater than the acceptance of worldly men and women, so we will continue doing our best to be the city on the hill, or the light in the harbor, whatever the case may be.
All in all, the sailing school trip was a positive. I missed Amy and wish she could have joined me, but we spoke daily, and I will have a chance to teach her the things I learned soon enough. There were many beautiful moments on the various boats we sailed. The moments that weren't so beautiful were the moments I learned the most, whether about sailing, ministry, or myself. I also looked at three sailboats that were contenders to be Born Again, eliminating two of them from consideration. Best of all, I have returned more certain that ever that our course for the future is the right one.
As far as our schedule going forward, there is not much left to do. Sometime in the next couple months, we need to buy a boat, and that's going to mean a fair amount of travel. The first of those trips is coming up at the end of this month, and I'm really glad that Amy will be with me on that one. (Especially since it's our anniversary!) We are hoping to see 8 to 10 boats throughout Florida on that trip.
Other than buy the boat, we just need to work at our jobs and continue to save as much money as we can. We need to prepare mentally and emotionally for saying good-bye to our family, friends, and our life as we have come to know it. Three months from today is our big Bon Voyage party. (If you're reading this, you're invited - Details to come.) We'll be leaving Monmouth very soon afterward; me within a couple days, and Amy within a couple weeks.
I don't know for sure, but I'll bet these blog posts get much more interesting at that point.
If you would like to be part of our adventure, there are a lot of ways you can join our team.
The first thing you can do is pray for us. Specifically, right now, please pray that God would make clear to us the boat that is to become Born Again, and also that He would continue to develop in us those character qualities that will most benefit us in furthering His kingdom in the days ahead.
Another thing you can do is help us spread the word about this ministry by sharing, liking, and commenting on all our posts. Whether they be blog posts like this one, Facebook posts, or Instagram, sharing these things will broaden our audience and in turn, hopefully generate some income down the line.