SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY
The small craft advisory was issued hours before Susan opened her eyes. After waiting many fearful hours for her son to come home, exhaustion finally forced her to sleep. She awakened with a start to the soft but heavy creaking sound of tires coming up her driveway; a quiet sound that told her instinctively that a heavy winter storm had fallen upon the region while she slept. On a good day, from the upstairs bedroom, she could see Quahog Cove near the end of her driveway and the rocky coastline of Maine beyond. Today, she could barely see to the end of her driveway. Susan gazed out the window toward the foreboding gray seascape as if by concentrating she could somehow bring her young son home.
Was it really only yesterday that he and his best pal Becker had happily steered away, Joey proudly in control of his recently purchased lobster boat? Now, 20 hours after they should have returned, her heart and mind tangled with the fearsome thought of the two young men being tossed about wildly on a tempest of high, deadly waves and frozen sea-spray.
This lobster season had been a special, though sad, one for Joey. His father had perished in a sudden and unexpected storm the previous September. Intending to continue the third-generation tradition of lobstering, he had worked and saved until he was able to buy to a
used 35-foot wooden lobster boat.
Susan’s brief reverie was interrupted by the sound of pounding on her front door. She quickly put on her bathrobe and slippers, her stomach violently rebelling at the thought of the news she may have to hear. By the time she arrived at the door, her neighbor Jack Hunter was banging at the windowpane. Before she opened the door, she whispered again her petition to the Lord that her son and his friend be safe.
“Small craft advisory…” Jack yelled through crack in the door as Susan opened it. Biting shards of wind-blown ice stung her face as she yelled to Jack to come in. With great force, he slammed the door against the power of the wind. Stomping his snow-covered boots on the rag-rug just inside the foyer, he quickly wiped his weathered face with a glove clotted with ice. Beneath frost-covered eyebrows, his eyes, glistening from the cold, were kind. Susan immediately felt calmness within her spirit, and sensed she had reason to believe her son was alive.
“Small craft advisory was issued hours ago”, he said, “before the storm intensified and went out to sea., but we’ve got no news of Joey’s boat. His eyes remained centered on Susan’s, remembering the recent loss of her husband.
Susan stammered as she asked Jack if he would like a cup of coffee. Grateful for a chance to warm up a bit, he accepted her offer.
“Can I use your phone to call home, Susan? The wife and kids will be wondering if I have any news. Mary wants you to come over to our place for a while.”
“Thank you, Jack, but I want to stay here. I just know they will be calling me as soon as they find him. They will find him, won’t they?” she pleaded. The process of making a pot of coffee and setting mugs on the table suddenly felt like more than she was capable of doing. She began to sob uncontrollably.
“Susan,” Jack said, I…”
Jack’s sentence was interrupted by the ringing of the cell phone he kept inside his cold-weather jacket. He responded with such eagerness that he almost dropped the phone.
“Thanks…yes…yes, I’ll tell her…goodbye.”
“That was the coastguard. They’ve rescued the boys…they were safe on shore near Duffy’s Pt. It’s a good thing Joey bought that new-fangled gadget that can track him wherever he is, ‘cause they never would’ve found him in this storm, and thank the good Lord for the small break in the weather.”
Much later, as Joey drank the coffee and devoured the eggs, bacon and toast Susan had prepared, he told his mother about the frightful, enormous waves that had pummeled his 35 foot boat, and admitted sorrowfully that in his eagerness to pilot it, he had ignored the small craft advisory, risking Becker’s life and his own. Not only was it a life threatening experience, it was also a hard lesson to learn and one that would last him a lifetime.
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