Friday, August 17, 2012

Caught In Current Off Grand Bahama Island

This is a continuation of the day Tommie came eye to eye with the Barracuda off Grand Bahama Island.

William took them to the Southeastern side of the island approximately five miles from the Barracuda encounter.  Without any hesitation they anchored the boat and dove into the most beautiful clear blue waters.  William immediately found the starfish he searched for, while Tommie began scouting for sand dollars.

Still a bit skittish from her encounter with the big fish, she checked the perimeters constantly searching for any lurking Barracuda's or sharks.  The time was approximately two in the afternoon, and she enjoyed the ease with which she swam as she snorkeled and combed the bottom for more sand dollars.  After about ten minutes, she realized there were none to be found and surfaced to check on Will and her distance from the boat.

In horror, she found she had swam a quarter mile from the boat.  She couldn't figure out how this was possible, and began swimming back.  For every three feet she swam forward, she was pulled out six.  She realized immediately a current was washing her out to sea.  She tried repeatedly but could not make it back, even with fins.

Tommie began yelling and waving her hand for Will to bring the boat and rescue her, but to no avail.  She saw him surface and look around for her.  He couldn't see her.  She barely saw him, but could see the boat.  She continued to wave her hands and then tread water, while getting further and further away.

Forget the Barracuda, she thought, now I'm going to be lost at sea.  She looked around to see if there were any other boats near by, but saw nothing.  Then she gauged her distance to the island and thought maybe she could swim the few miles in that direction, and gave it a try, but even with her fins on she found it difficult to get out of the current no matter which direction she went, and found she drifted further out every second.

At this point Will still searched everywhere.  He climbed into the boat to get a better view. He looked in all directions.

Tommie continued to wave, and realized with her light hair and fair complexion she would not be seen very easily. 

Will started the boat and searched the area slowly.  Tommie could see him looking in all directions.  She waved and yelled, then yelled and waved some more, and realized he may never see her.  She thought she must have looked like a tiny speck in the middle of all that water.

Thoughts of her life crossed her mind, and she wondered how long could she tread water, and how long before she could get out of the current, and how far would it carry her away from everyone that was dear to her; Will and her children.  Then she thought, this is something that happens to someone you read about in the newspaper, not her.  She never thought she'd die this way, lost in an ocean of water.  Panic began to take over her mind, and she knew she had to get a grip, or she'd drown for sure.

She began to swim harder, but still got nowhere.  Finally, she prayed, "Dear Father In Heaven, please let me see Will and my children again.  Please don't let me be eaten by sharks or Barracudas.  Please let me have the strength to swim, or please let Will find me. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

No sooner had she finished her prayer, she opened her eyes and raised one hand and waved--no yelling--just silence.  She knew he wouldn't hear her anyway.  Suddenly the boat started heading her way.  He had finally spotted her. 

Minutes later, he swiftly pulled her aboard, and hugged her tightly. "How did you get so far away? I couldn't see you anywhere.  I panicked.  I couldn't figure out where you had gone."  Will rambled for several minutes, not letting her go, and then, he released her. With tears in his eyes, he looked at her and said, "I love you so much.  Don't ever scare me like that again."

They discussed what happened and she relived it all for him.

William said, "A flash of light caught my eye, like the reflection of the sun in a mirror.  It must have been the water on your hand when you waved."

They both realized it was Divine Intervention, and that Heavenly Father was not ready for Tommie to come home.  They thanked Him and remained quiet for the fifteen minute ride to the North side of the island, where they had not yet explored.

To be continued.

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