It is said that everything in the universe can be explained by mathematics, from the tilt of the
earth to the distance of the sun to the existence of worm holes.
Mans quest for knowledge in the mathematical realm has stretched far back into the historical
record. For Archimedes to Pythagoras to Einstein just to name a few. Our collective quest to
answer the mystery of the universe goes on without rest or suspension.
I was never good at math. It was a complete total mystery to me. The trouble with numbers
probably began with my absence of a great portion of the third grade due to a severe accident. As
I went forward with my education, I had to repeat most of my math classes simply because
numbers just didn’t roost in my cranial nest.
Now I would like to share a sea story that has to do with numbers. Wanting to be a sailor and
adventure beyond the limits of the land, I had to get a good understanding of how numbers
related to sailing. I learned how to compute set and drift and speed as it related to voyaging in
what is called dead reckoning. If you don’t get it right, you may end up dead. Ginny and I
voyaged for years on simple dead reckoning and by the seat of our pants.
We finally were able to acquire a Texas Instruments Loran C. There were Loran towers around
the globe that sent out overlapping signals and where their signals intersected the instrument
would convert these overlaps into numerical values. These numerical numbers were on a Loran
C chart. By plotting these numbers on a Loran C chart gave you an extremely accurate position
on the face of the earth. You had an antenna externally mounted on your deck or rigging and a
receiver that constantly spit out numbers. I considered it to be the greatest thing since mother’s
We had spent some months in Little Harbor in the southern Abacos, fishing, diving and beach
combing. Ginny and I had taken on a female crew member who was searching for her purpose
and my older sister’s youngest daughter, Molly. We decided to go to Eleuthra for a change of
scenery and to get a little further along towards our goal of getting to the Virgin Islands.
Now most of the trouble we got into revolved around not being able to interpret oceanic weather
patters properly. We left Little Harbor on what we thought would be a favorable weather pattern
for this short hop. Our vessel, the “Two Can” was a lugged rigged schooner that was a good sea
boat but not a weather-ly passage maker. She would fly off the wind, but beating to weather
involved long tacks with little forward progress.
Several hours out of Little Harbor, the weather took a turn for the worse and the sea did no better
than continue to build. We could not beat back to Little Harbor and our auxiliary diesel was
small compared to the size of the “Two Can.” It got so rough that I decided to heave too and we
struck all sails and went below and were doing what’s called “laying a hull”. We were drifting at
several knots laying on the cabin sole it was so rough. I calculated that at our rate of drift we
were going to fetch up on the iron side of Eleuthra in about 4 – 5 hours. I was watching the Loran
numbers rapidly change and wondering how our families would take our deaths. I was firmly
aware that as the captain, I was responsible for the lives of our crew and their untimely demise
and a great sorrow came over me. It was all on me. I decided to start the voyage and the lives on
board were my responsibility.
The reality of the situation began to set in like a hammer on my sole. I was prepared to end my
life smashed upon the rocks but the guilt of being the cause of three young women’s untimely
departure was chilling.
I remember looking around at my crew and offered up a simple declaration. I said, “Lord, I
commit our spirits to your keeping.” As soon as I did this, my gaze fell upon the Loran and saw
the numbers. At first it made no sense to me because the numbers stopped. I wrote it off to fear.
I kept looking and the numbers ad they weren’t budging. This could not be happening
considering the height of the sea and the velocity of the wind. The “Two Can” had simply
stopped in the open ocean and it was impossible for that to happen.
I then felt a loving presence. My fears were gone and the violent motion had stopped. The
presence remained and it was pure unfathomable love. Something I had never experienced.
I don’t know how long we were stopped. It was as if time stood still. When the night ended and
the sun arose, there was Eleuthra’s iron shore and a beautiful rainbow was the frame surrounding
There are some things that happen in life that are beyond understanding and God’s love for us
and His power over the known are paramount in this journey of life.
You can trust his unfathomable love.
Neil K. Haynes June 23, 2017