During severe storm, buoy seemed to say `Come unto me'

I was a shrimp fisherman. I left the Georgia waters for the lack of shrimp at the end of one season to shrimp in Florida waters. One day as I was fishing off the coast of St. Augustine, Fla., with only a few boats in the area, I saw a fast-approaching black cloud. We immediately took up our nets; we had a long way to go to get back to safety.

We made it to an offshore buoy which made a wierd horn sound. I was afraid to try to go across the bar as I had only crossed it a few times in calm weather or when the sea was only a little rough, and that was not easy. You have to ride the seas across the bar. It was late evening and I didn't want to stay out there all night, so I thought I had better try to cross and proceeded to do so.The conditions by then were to the point I could see only about three or four boat lengths in front of my boat because of the dark clouds, the rain and the fog. I had to run at full power to maintain control with a heavy stern sea. I was running where I couldn't see any landmarks or buoys. I was not sure where I was going, but I was going at full power and the seas were carrying me at twice the speed. I knew there was a large rock reef or jetty on my left. I hoped I was in the narrow channel because there was a shallow breaker on my right. My boat would be dashed to pieces if it hit the jetty and pounded all to pieces if it hit the breakers. If I went to the right or left, I knew it was sure destruction.

The farther I went, the worse it got. I was really scared. I could hear, I thought, the very high sea breaking on the reef. I thought perhaps I had been taken way off course by the heavy sea, so I make a quick decision to turn around. I didn't know if I was right or wrong, and will never know as two more waves could have taken me to safe waters or to the rock reef.

In a storm a boat needs to face into the waves or, as we say, face the seas. When I turned, I was sideways to the seas (sideways to the waves). This caused my boat to list and roll. The first wave caught me; it seemed like it took me 100 yards closer to the danger as I rolled over the top of the wave and listed heavy on the left side and slid down into the trough of the wave. I saw that the next one was going to swamp me. I was looking out of the pilot house window; with the boat listing so far on its side, I could not see the top of the next wave. It covered us as it hit us with great force.

I did not know the extent of the damage at that time, but it knocked my striker (helper) who was in the wheel house beside me though the door. He fell across the rail and was able to crawl back into the pilot house. The cabin was full of water.

I was able to stand because I was holding the steering wheel. I managed to get the bow facing into the seas. The waves were still coming over the bow, but they were much safer and calmer. We needed to get out into deeper waters. I wondered if we could find the buoy.

My striker held the wheel while I checked for damage. I found that everything that had been on deck was gone; all our baskets, our shovels, the spare net and stools. Also gone was the hatch cover that covered the hold of the boat where we go in and out and where we put the shrimp, fish and ice. I knew I had taken on a lot of water. I tried to turn on the pump, but it would not function. I went down into the engine room and found that the fuel tank was broken loose from its braces, the fuel line was broken. There was a lot of fuel and water. The spilled fuel had the belts oily and slick and the pump could not turn. With the fuel line broken, I could lose power and be without any control. I needed to fix it fast.

My only hope was to drop my 100-pound hook anchor to hold us off the reef. I went back up to the deck and looked for the anchor, but it and the rope had gone overboard. I then wanted to find the buoy so that I could know where we were. At the buoy, I knew we would be in safe waters. The buoy that made such a weird sound would have sounded very sweet then. My striker got on the bow and said he thought he could hear the buoy's sound in the distance. In a few minutes, he said, "Yes, I hear it."

To me, it said, "Come unto me and you will find peace and safety." It did not say that the storms would be over, but that it would be safe where we could make repairs to the pump and the fuel lines.

I was able to get things patched and working. Then a fisherman from that area, who had gone in and out many times, came by and called out, "Come follow me." I knew he was experienced. He had a goal and he knew how to get there. I needed his help. I followed.

As home teachers, visiting teachers, bishops, branch presidents, priesthood and auxiliary leaders and as friends, there are many who need our help. Can they trust us to lead them to safety? Do we have goals? Have we set proper examples for others to follow? Have we proven to them that they can trust us with their serious problems? Can we help them weather their storms?

There is a storm out there in the world today. Satan is raging! I know we are all aware of the storm. Are we doing all we can to help our families? Are we sending our children out in the storm without the best protection we have to give? The dangers are physical, mental and spiritual.

Satan's sights are set on the family. The prophets have asked that, when at all possible, mothers stay in the home. Children need their teachings and examples as they watch over and nourish them. We must sacrifice if need be.

We are thankful for prophets and apostles who, by virtue of their special, divine callings, can see more clearly than we. They can warn us and can save us in serious spiritual and physical situations. We are not left to weather the storm alone.

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