Ghost Ship

Summer keeps us all pretty busy; but never busier than in the NW, where we have to squeeze twelve months of play into three weeks of good weather. The Nordberg family spent  some of our play time on our boat. While we were gone, we had the most unusual adventure . . .

We’d anchored our boat in Montegue Harbor, British Columbia and tied a friend’s boat up alongside for the night. In boating parlance, we call that “rafting.” After making certain that we were well anchored, we made dinner and sat down to feast on board Ron’s boat. As we were eating, Ron looked up and said, “We’re dragging anchor! Look how close that sailboat is!”

The boys (our two husbands) ran up to the pilot house to check our position. The GPS would confirm that we’d moved off our anchor. But a scan of the harbor and a check of the instruments showed us that we hadn’t moved at all. They rejoined us  at the table saying, “Must just look like we’re closer, maybe due to the wind or current. Sure seems strange though.”

We didn’t think much more of it, until suddenly I looked out the back of our boat and said, “My gosh that boat is going to run into us!”

Scrambling, the four of us ran outside. Ron leapt  into his dingy (which was tied on the end of his swim step), just as the errant sail boat slid into the pontoon. He’d caught it just in time. Now what?

We managed to get fenders out and enough lines to tie the fifty foot vessel alongside Ron’s boat. We banged on the hull. No answer. We called out to the owners. No one was on board. Quite literally, we’d inherited a sailboat. In the rules of the sea, an abandoned boat becomes the property of those who rescue her. Ron worried about when the owners would return. “What if they aren’t back tomorrow morning? Will our anchor hold with this extra weight?”  I assured him, with blustery confidence, that they would be back before dark. What worried me though, was how they would respond to discovering their vessel tied up alongside a strange boat. Would they accuse us of trying to steal her?

About forty minutes later, the sound of a small outboard motor grew louder, and sure enough, the sailboat’s owners, four adults on board, came along side in their dingy. The man in front was snapping pictures as they approached. No one looked happy. “What happened?” they asked. “Why is our boat tied onto yours?”

Their astonishment soon turned to disbelief. “I set the anchor. We waited for hours before we left the boat. It was solid as a rock. There’s no way she came loose.” The boat’s captain was adamant.

“She wasn’t just dragging anchor,” we responded. “She was completely loose on the tide, her anchor line completely slack. If we hadn’t stopped her, she’d be in the Queen Charlotte Islands by now.” A slight exaggeration on my part, I admit.

The captain could hardly swallow his disbelief. He was so certain of his technique, absolutely confident that the boat couldn’t have come loose. His wife, on the other hand, quickly understood the situation, and her surprise gave way to gratitude. “How can we thank you for saving our boat?” she said. “What might have happened? It could have been clear out in the channel, or grounded on a rock, or the beach. I can’t believe you saved her! Thank you.”

In the end, we used the dinghies to untwist the anchor lines and set the sailboat free. The captain and his crew were profoundly grateful for the safe return of their expensive vessel. As the sun set, we enjoyed a great desert in the twilight.

All was well. But the experience got me thinking. How often have you observed a fellow traveller drift off the security of his spiritual anchor? Maybe he’s been enticed by a dangerous habit, an unreliable relationship, a slacking off of the disciplines that keep us tied to Christ, our savior, our anchor. And maybe, just maybe, someone you know has gone adrift. Have you the skills to catch the vessel before it slips off to sea? Are you willing to risk your own vessel to save another? Would you risk being misunderstood in order to keep someone else from losing all?

Our experience with a real sailboat got me to thinking. I don’t take those risks easily. I’m afraid of the confrontations, the misunderstandings. In fact, I myself have endured the false accusations of well meaning friends. But I think we owe it to one another. Keep watch. When a ship goes drifting,  yours may be the only vessel who can rescue. Are you willing?

Has your drifting boat been rescued before? Mine has. Thank heaven for the ones who care enough to speak.





2 Responses to “Ghost Ship”

  1. Linda Wolcott Says:


    I appreciate reading all of these thoughts that you have written, so much! You have great insight, that I can identify with, and find very helpful, in my own personal walk!


    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Thanks Linda, It isn’t always easy to know what “jingles the reader’s chain.” So thanks so much for letting me know! Sometimes, it’s easy to keep the blog ideas flowing. Other times, not so much. . . You make it more fun!

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