Friday

Catching Up With Stella...

The Pushover Plot by Lilly Maytree
When I first started talking about taking Stella Madison along on this trip, it was sort of a tongue-in-cheek way of explaining that I would have to bring one of my “works in progress” with me in order to keep up with my writing schedule. This because our plans of going up and back to Alaska one summer, stretched into two years. Little did we know the Glory B was about as unprepared for such an enormous undertaking as we were.

Like us, she had been sitting in one place too long. The stresses and strains on moving parts that had not moved in years, brought a lot of things to the breaking point. But she was the perfect boat for us, we loved her, and it was no small thing that God had brought her to us in such a miraculous way*. So—as is the case in similar situations—we kept fixing things, and fixing things, in order to just carry on. Most of our money went in that direction, too. Because when you love something, it doesn't matter so much what it costs, you simply don't want to lose it.

Not to mention, there was a dream attached to the Glory B that we might experience something of a resurrection, ourselves. One that would allow us to fulfill some “divine assignment” the Lord was still holding open for us. If only we were brave enough to step out, and fully put our trust in Him. There was a lot at stake. And the harder we worked at it, the more valuable the whole idea became. So—necessity being the mother of invention—I came up with an interesting (I thought) way of breaking an entire novel into parts, and literally “living out” the background and research as I went along. It would be fun. And just as much fun (I hoped) for readers to share in those experiences along the way.

I was going to mingle some truth with my fiction. Goodness—had that ever been done before? Yes. Of course it had. About as much as when I thought I had personally invented the genre of Inspirational Adventure Fiction, before I realized how many other authors had been turning out similar stuff for years. Anyway, it was new to me. What I had no idea of (or I would have thought twice about attempting such a thing), was that there are many worlds other than our own individual spheres, co-existing all around us. Which is fine if you stay where you belong, and don't make any unnecessary waves in the great sea of shared atmosphere we all live in. However, if you do...

You sometimes get a reaction similar to splitting an atom.

At least, that's my theory for why things began happening to us that were way off our charts. In bunches. As if we had unknowingly stepped out from under our umbrella and got drenched beneath some deluge we didn't even realize was going on out there. It reminded me of that old movie, Back To The Future, when the Delorean reached enough speed to intersect with enough electricity to crack the time barrier. What in the world had just happened to us? More importantly... where had we ended up?

It was a lovely little cove where I had just about finished with my next Stella Madison Caper. I was getting ready to head over to the local library and put the finishing touches on, connect up to Internet, and send it safely to myself until publishing day. I climbed into the dinghy and sat down (as I have hundreds of times over the last two years), and was waiting for the Captain to hand over the things we were taking with us before he got in. All of a sudden, I was in the water. The dinghy had tipped, as if by some giant hand (we weren't even in rough water), and I rolled out like a fried egg being slid out of a pan.

Oddly enough, the water (which is supposed to be frigid in these northern latitudes) was not cold. And I remember thinking I had forgotten how wonderful it felt to swim in salt water. But then the Captain, who was now leaning over from the deck of the Glory B, said, “The briefcase—get the briefcase!” At which point I realized it was floating right next to me, having flown off the deck of the bigger boat at the very same time. I grabbed hold and handed it up. But even though it had been in the water less than a minute, my computer, my smart-phone, passport and other important papers, were all drenched. And while the passport and papers eventually dried out, all those state-of-the-art electronics were never to rise, again.

Which is why we are halfway through this journey, and you haven't seen any videos, yet. It is also why I had to write that Stella Madison Caper over, again, from scratch, with the help of the Captain's little Dell mini, and an old fashioned notebook and pen (during the times we were without power). However, the worst part of all was the discovery that Apple Care (which I switched over to specifically for this trip, in case I ran into any problems) does not cover accidents. Why didn't I know that? Let's just say I come from a different era, when the word insurance meant it covered everything except an act of God. So, all that new equipment my wonderful husband sold his last truck to get me, was not only gone, it was good and gone. A sobering thought that took days for the shock to wear off, even to sink in.

Meanwhile, we were being stretched at every turn, physically, mentally, spiritually, and monetarily. Not only that, we seemed stuck in place like a perpetual rerun of the movie, Ground Hog Day, as week after week continued to pass by. And I don't mind saying I was even beginning to have some hesitations at writing the next Stella Madison Caper, too. Because I suddenly didn't like the name of it one bit. Lost In The Wilderness. If the cover hadn't been done, already, I'd have changed it. Which was probably just a result of having to travel past places with map names like Raging Rapids, Whirlpool Rapids, and Desolation Sound. But I still felt that way.

So, have we caught up with Stella? Let's just say we are perfectly in-sync at the moment, as both of us travel the same territory on our respective paths. The PushoverPlot is about maneuvering one's way past the darker side of supernatural. Whether, or not, we have actually “converged”...

I will leave for readers to decide.

21 Stories of Faith

* The miraculous story of how we got the Glory B is in the ebook 21 Stories of Faith—which is FREE TODAY over at Amazon. It will cheer you up in 21 different ways!

Wednesday

Door to the Wilderness...

After the uproar had ceased... they sailed on... and sailed on...and sailed on...” 

Taken from somewhere in Acts, when we flipped open our Bible for a bit of encouragement, during a particularly despairing moment. It was a moment that we couldn't imagine how we could ever “sail on” from there. And, yet...

Today, we had the most perfect day of traveling since we replaced the propeller. There have been others, but they were heaped with hazards. Strong winds (blowing right on our nose, so we couldn't make use of them in such narrow places), choppy seas, and swift-running currents that mixed and swirled, and felt something like slipping on a patch of ice in a car—only in slow motion—when you ran over them. A couple times, we had to pull off into some cove and wait for things to change, as we were making no headway, at all. Once, when the weather reports were bad, we waited two days before moving on.

It was in a lovely place called Beaver Cove, where we were tucked in behind a little island, surrounded by mountains and pine trees just before the end of Vancouver Island (which is around 300 miles long). We anchored there, in about a hundred feet of water, and listened to the wind roar through the trees above us, but felt little of it snuggled into our protected place. A few other boats found their way there, as well. From here on, the towns will get fewer and farther between, giving us the sense we are finally at the door of the wilderness.

Today, it was a special blessing to find the water of that notorious Johnstone Strait, smooth as a pond (just for us?), all the way to the end (thank you, Lord!). So, it was a nice reprieve from the stress and disasters of the last few weeks. And, at last, we are “sailing on,” just as the scriptures implied. Even though we couldn't see how it could be done before. Another miracle the Captain can write down in the log of the Glory B. Along with what we like to call our “miracle of the tools.” People have been literally coming down to the boat with tools for us to use, just when we needed them.

Like when we were on that remote grid, hours away from any town, and the two men who were with us (who knew a lot about boats) said the propeller wasn't going to fit. That we would have to get another one (at a cost of $400) and have it flown out to us by sea plane (I can't even imagine how much that would be). Because our propeller didn't need to just be widened, it needed to be tapered. So, the Captain and I said a prayer. Not long after that, a man who lived in a boat across the bay, drove over in his dinghy with an assortment of tools we might be able to use. One of which was a rat-tail file... with a taper! And it worked.

Or, on the next grid, when the man who owned the marine store, came down with a special pulling tool to get it off, again. Then there was the matter of a certain L-n wrench that we dropped in the water at the worst possible time, and another man brought one over from his shop. All of which makes me think of Noah and the Ark, when the Lord brought in the animals, because it would have been almost impossible for him to go out and get them, himself, at that particular time. But it especially encourages me that God has no problem getting anyone from point A to point B. He actually specializes in that sort of thing.

Now, tomorrow, we will head for a place called Port Hardy, where we will say good-bye to the lovely and amazing Vancouver Island, and get ready to cross a stretch of “big water” before catching the next set of inside passageways north, again. We will wait for favorable conditions, and get across in one day. But they aren't quite as scary as they used to be, considering some of the things we've been through, already. Probably the effects of that extra training we were in need of before we took this gigantic project on. Even so...

Getting all the way to the end will be a miracle.
The Pushover Plot by Lilly Maytree
 

NOTE: Today is publication day (finally!) for THE PUSHOVER PLOT, Stella Madison Caper #4. Another miracle (I lost the files and had to write it all over again), which I will tell you about next time. However, I will say that our paths have definitely converged...

Friday

Only Believe...

We have gotten into a lot of trouble in our lives, simply because of the things we have chosen to do. Up to now, our philosophy has been that there are troubles to deal with everywhere, so we might as well be doing what we enjoy as we go along, rather than something we don't. And—after many years—we still feel that way.

In the early days, our troubles were mostly self-induced. Inexperience here, a wrong choice there... and suddenly we would end up in a rainstorm we had created all by ourselves. But as we got older, the storms got fewer and farther between, and we even learned a great many “survival ticks” along the way. The most important being that God will always do what He says. Always.

Walking around in the Kingdom of God on earth (which is really what we Christians are doing here) is like being an ambassador in a foreign country. You live in that country, but are paid by your own, and are not subject to the laws of their land. In fact, your embassy (the place where you live) is even considered the soil of your own native country. According to international law, it becomes a place of protection that the host country may not violate. Occasionally, there are wars and casualties, and—depending on political relationships—you might even be asked to leave. But that's how it works.

All that to say our “currencies of exchange” are vastly different. In the Kingdom of God, it is promises. Not that we don't use money (you need to exchange your currency for theirs in order to do business, here), we just get it a different way. We get it by having faith (or trust) that God will do what He says. He will keep His promises. That's how it's worked for us all these years. People look at our lives and think we are either very smart, or total idiots. But the thing about living in the Kingdom of God is that it doesn't matter which of those you are. You are still a citizen, covered by all the rights and privileges that go along with it. At least, that's how I look at it. It helps me to have something I can relate to in order to hang my faith on.

However, I can't tell you the “whys and hows” of exactly how God does all this. Which is why I have resorted to simply making a list (or, an account) of everything He has done for us, and let people decide for themselves. When catastrophes began to happen on this trip (they came in bunches), we did not see a way out. We were in spots we simply couldn't get out of by ourselves. Yet, I knew God would show up, eventually, and straighten things out, and promised to tell you all about it when He did. So, here's the current list:

At our third stop after the border, where we were going to restock and refuel, there were no funds waiting for us because our renters skipped out without telling us, and left the place a disaster. To go back and fix it up would have taken all the funds we needed to get to Alaska. So, we turned that situation over to the Lord. Answer: Within two weeks, it was rented to someone who didn't have enough funds for a deposit, but was willing to clean it up for a fully refundable one. Everyone was happy. Extra Blessing: The neighbor who was showing the house for us discovered the new lady was a woman she had prayed with and taken care of in the hospital where she worked, and the two were overjoyed at the thought of being neighbors.

While we were waiting for the above situation to resolve, the Captain discovered two blades missing off our prop. Oddly enough, the repair for that was going to cost... the amount of funds we needed to get to Alaska. We turned that situation over to the Lord. Answer: There happened to be a usable propeller in the corner of a shed at the local boatworks, at a price of $75 instead of $400. 

An islander the Captain made friends with knew of a grid (a place with a cement slab and pier to tie up to that leaves you “high and dry” to work on the boat between tides) we could use for free instead of another $400. It was four hours away and we had no engine, but he towed us behind his boat, stayed overnight, and helped us work on ours (thank you, Dave!).  

Extra Blessing: It was the cutest little ghost town of a community, with boardwalks between the buildings, of the sort I was looking for (but couldn't imagine) for a certain group of people I am writing about who are on their way to one of those. I would have missed it if we hadn't gone there specifically, as it was not on the same route we were originally taking.

There's more, but this post is getting too long, so I will add to the list on the end of the next one. And the next one, and the next one, until there aren't any more “divine interventions” to report. But something tells me that will never happen.

Thank heavens!

Changing Hands...

Putting things into God's hands is like your company being sold and a new CEO comes in. There are a lot of changes that have to be dealt with, most of which are uncomfortable. Simply because that's not how you would have chosen, if it was still up to you. Only it isn't. So, while we were waiting for the dust to settle on the rental emergency back home...

We decided to take advantage of the “layover time” and get a few things done on the boat we still wanted to do. Which is how the Captain happened to be busy scraping the barnacles off the bottom (only as far as he could reach with a brush on the end of a pole, while floating alongside in the dinghy), when he looked down into the clear water and noticed there were two blades missing off our propeller. No wonder we were making such little headway against those strong currents!

Thinking back, we knew just when it had happened. Somewhere near the end of the Georgia Strait (after two days out on that big water), we began to feel an unusual vibration that hadn't been there before. We hadn't bumped or run into anything, so we figured the bearings might be wearing out on the shaft... something else to check on when we finally got the Glory B hauled out to paint the bottom. Which we had every intention of doing. In fact, we made (and had to cancel) reservations to do that several times in different places along the way. This last time, as recently as the rental uproar.

What a wonderful boat we have to get us to a safe harbor (with the help of angels, I'm sure) on only one prop blade. But goodness, what an unexpected expense this is going to be! Not unexpected to our new CEO, however, who already knew beforehand the thing had been wearing away from years of neglect, and that this area around the town of Campbell River (just across the bay from our little cove) is the last good place for parts and hauling out for hundreds of miles. Not to mention the currents will be stronger, weaving through all the islands scattered in front of us during the next leg of our voyage.

Which is why I am seriously considering writing a boater's manual on what NOT to do, when preparing for a cruise. I figure if there had been one of those handy, we could have saved ourselves a majority of the troubles we have encountered, so far. Of course, we have read piles of the ones that tell you what should be done, and felt we had pretty much everything we needed for a day's journey. Which is all the farther we ever planned to go at one time.

So, we are back to following “God's footsteps,” instead of trudging through unfamiliar territory on our own limited intuitions. Which can be deceiving at the most inopportune times, simply because they spring out of your very own brains. Myself, I can imagine any number of ways to do something—most of which turn out to be wrong. Sad but true.

At any rate, we are now on a hunt for a propeller to fit our near fifty-year-old boat, and the means to get it put on there. But we're not too worried. The Lord has a lot of people in this town, many of whom are experts. One of the reasons I'm sure we ended up in this particular place. To fix something a lot more important than just having enough gas in our tank to move on.

Story of life, isn't it.

Promises...Promises...

I have promised a lot of things on this blog, most of which has not been delivered, yet. Not because I have changed my mind, or had second thoughts, but because things happen. Unexpected things. The kind you wouldn't dream of because it isn't a part of your life. One can't exactly plan for things they can't imagine.

Which is why we are still on Quadra Island, anchored in Quathiaski Cove. Due mostly to some unexpected pitch “out of left field” from an enemy camp. The sort the Captain and I don't usually deal with, because we don't live in those realms. So, we were completely caught off guard when our renters, back home, skipped out on us without paying, and left the house in a condition no one else would want to live in, either. I don't have to tell what that did to our plan of traveling as far as we could on what supplies we had, and then waiting for the next payment in order to move on.

However, part of being on an adventure of this type is the necessity deal with the unexpected. No matter where it comes from. And while we have experienced much of what could happen as far as boating goes, I tend to forget life is still going on around us (and in spite of us) everywhere else, because I get so caught up in my own tunnel vision. But what to do. It is a long time until another check, which would not be enough to get us all the way home to clean up the house, anyway. If we did, getting back here, again, would cost even more, and we would miss yet another “weather-window” to reach Alaska. For the second year in a row.

Of course, it was devastating. There have been other devastating things as a result, too, but—I'm convinced—the important thing is how we deal with them. Maybe even more important than the things, themselves. The Bible says we should rejoice when such things happen because it opens the door for the Lord to work things out on our behalf that we couldn't possibly have worked out by ourselves. So, here's the deal...

Since God always keeps His promises, we have tossed the ball into His court on this one. Not only does He have better ideas, He is never caught off-guard. And in the meantime, we will try to rejoice in His salvation (out of circumstances such as these), and keep on working at our “assigned tasks” while we wait for Him to show up on the scene. At this point, I have no idea what's going to happen. But I do know it's going to be good.

And I promise to tell you all about it.

Hello From the Glory B!

Quadra Island, Canada
June 12, Aboard the Glory B

Well, an entire week has gone by since I last checked in, dear readers, and much has happened since then. To begin with, the engine is running beautifully, as long as we don't push the RPMs and remember to keep her hydrated (she's fifty years old). We made the border crossing with no problems (Praise the Lord!), got our official "visitor number," and ran up our courtesy Canadian flag. After which, we set our sails to head north along the east side of beautiful Vancouver Island.

Which is a huge island, about 300 miles long. Our first right of passage was a little dog-leg stretch called the Dodd Narrows. The current runs through there at around nine knots, and considering we only make five, you can see how we needed a slack tide to even attempt it. There were other sailboats waiting for the right conditions, too, along with a couple of small motorboats that shot right through, without waiting at all, because they had more than enough power to back them up.

Still, it was like a fast-moving shallow river, with rocks on both sides, close enough to spit over the rails and hit them. But we made it through at about two knots (think mph, it's easier), with only a few slippery moments. Whew! Then on to our first port on Vancouver, which was the city of Nanaimo. Big City. 

We stayed an extra day because the marine radio said there was going to be gale-force winds out on the Strait of Georgia, the next day, and we were at the door. We needed to go nearly a hundred miles on that big water. The locals said, it would be no problem, as long as we stayed off it whenever there was wind. This because it is not like the ocean.

On the ocean, when there is wind, you get big swells. I don't like those, but at least you can sail up and over them. In tighter places like the Strait of Georgia, you can get eight foot seas roaring with hardly any space in between, and it can be very dangerous. So, we decided to listen to the radio everyday and stick with the fair weather. Which is why we made that long transit (took us three more days) with fair winds and following seas. That is, light airs to fill the sails, and water ripples that are headed in the same direction.

Eight to ten hours a day, and because it was our first week of that many hours of wind, sun, and motoring; we didn't do much more than eat and sleep between times. Especially with the added concerns of traveling through unknown (to us) territory. Ah, but I am happy to report that we are adjusting more each day, and actually beginning to talk and think, again, too. So, the Captain says we are looking at two weeks to Alaska, from here, if we don't have to wait out much bad weather. Internet will be harder to come by after this (I thought it was hard, already), but I will do my best to find some.

Meanwhile, we are resting up a bit here in a lovely little cove on Quadra Island, across from the large city of Campbell River, before we continue on into Discovery Passage. I don't know what's ahead, but I don't like the names on this part of the map. Things like Whirlpool Rapids, Desolation Sound, Blind Channel, Dent Rapids, Race Passage, etc. So, if you think of us before you fall asleep at night, please say a prayer that we have made it to a safe harbor to drop anchor in. Because God hears every one of those--indeed, He does--and we have definitely felt His hand on us during a couple of close calls, already.

And what a wonderful feeling that is! We'll share it with you as we continue to pray for all the prayer requests that are coming in to us, via the prayer list box on the sidebar of this blog. So, until next week, or before, fair winds and God's blessings on all of you, fellow travelers!

PS... Stella Madison is still ahead of us, but we should be catching up with her, anytime. Coming in July is The Pushover Plot. Oh, dear... now what has she gotten herself into?

NOTE: Blogger comments are not working on any of my blogs, but I will try to fix that before next time. But many thanks to all of you, who I know are "traveling with us."

Thursday

One Step Away From...

It is the eve before our departure (Mystery Tour #3, Canadian border crossing attempt #2), and ready, or not, here we go. The engine hums like never before, the stores are aboard, and the Glory B has a new coat of paint and varnish to mark the occasion. Computer behavior: acceptabe. Am I caught up on my work? Ah, no. But the nice thing about working from home is that your work is always at hand.

The two things I was going to do before the next phase of our adventure began, was to make my last Alaska report from my "Walk Alaska" tour I went on this spring, and to finish up the voting campaign for whether, or not, Stella Madison should be allowed to travel along with us, this summer. Which (I am sorry to admit) is entirely out of my hands, now, as she has taken off ahead of us. 

She crossed over the border during caper #3, with the publication of Sea Trials. I'm hoping we meet up with her and her crew before we get to Alaska, but I'm done making promises. Mostly because it's embarrassing when you can't keep them. Now, I know the meaning of that scripture that tells you to put "if God wills" on the end of all your promises to others. Not because we don't always know what He is going to do, but because we are rather unprepared for what our own reactions will be when something goes amiss and He has to get us out of the soup, with a switch to plan B. Our choice, not His, but He is ever-faithful. 

Praise the Lord--He always has things covered (He knows the future, and that's a huge advantage). Our part of this faith venture seems to be in trusting Him that "our steps are ordered," and He has orchestrated all the details beforehand. It takes a great weight of worry off, actually, as there are no worries when you remember to let Him do the driving. Now, there you have the lessons of our last two years in a nutshell, and...

We are are officially off at dawn tomorrow morning. High tide is then, which we need to get out of this bay we have spent the winter in. At the moment, my goal is to update this blog once a week (if God wills), and more if we are somewhere to get Internet. When we cross back into the U.S. near Ketchikan, Alaska, I will then be able to use my hotspot, and communications will be pretty much back to normal, again. We are aiming for the first week in July...

If God wills!