...and my boat is so small. That solemn, silent prayer was spoken by one 15 year old kid about 45 years ago. He was on a small wooden, leaky 12 ft boat that was used mostly for oystering. That 15 year old kid did something he was warned to never do; he went oystering in the bay all by himself. His father told him not to go alone. But, he did just that. He was having a great time of it. Bringing up dozens of oysters that cold March day in 1967, the young man lost track of time and space. The old leaky wooden boat was creaking under the weight of oysters. But, what was worse, the tide was going out on him. So was the boat loaded with oysters. The young teen noticed what was happening and quickly jumped on board of the old wooden boat. But, as he got the oars into the water, he realized he was caught in an undertow that was quickly taking him out of the bay and into the Gulf of Mexico. Try as he might, he could not oar himself back to shore. So, he then started up the cranky outboard motor. Of course, it would not start. The sun was quickly going down and it was getting colder. Before he knew it, he was losing sight of shore.
The 15 year old became despondent and decided to start tossing the oysters back in the water to save the boat from sinking. But, the boat started to take on water anyway. He had no life preserver which was against Coast Guard rules. As it became dark, he noticed that his efforts to save the boat were going to be in vain as the water continued to seep in faster than he could bail out with the old plastic bucket he had on the boat. Things were looking bleak for the lad. He looked around and could see nothing but the darkening night and sky. At the end of his rope, the young man said that silent prayer his grandfather had taught him. Dear Lord, be good to me. The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small. Like anyone facing death, he cried. He hoped his death would be quick and merciful. Just as all hope was lost, a beacon of light was focused on him quite suddenly and without warning. "You need help, boy?" It was as if the hand of God had reached out into the darkness to rescue him. It was a small shrimp boat returning to shore when he noticed an object in the darkness.
That young 15 year old boy was me. And it happened 45 years ago today.
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