Pictures taken by Al & Fran Meservy Sailing on the Gulf of Mexico down the Florida Keys Nov 1977
THE ACCIDENT By: Frances M. McCrory-Meservy October 1977
We chartered a sailboat in the Caribbean; but could not get a flight down. They were booked up. We canceled the Caribbean and chartered a 42' ketch sailboat out of Clearwater, Florida instead.
On the way to the airport, two weeks after the house burned down, a truck ran a red light and totaled our car. Our daughter, Stephi, had a concussion. I had a double concussion, fractured skull, laceration of the head, three severed arteries and a broken tailbone. David and Al had a few bruises. I had migraine headaches that lasted nine months (water was covering me again and it was hard to breath).
Either Satan was trying to kill me because he knew that I was trying to do what God said to get my husband saved or I was really messed up and God was trying to tell me something. Between the house burning down and the accident, I became very meek: the headaches kept me meek. Reflecting on all that I had done wrong and trying to get myself in line with whatever God's will was for me became a full time job. Telling someone else how to run his or her life when I had messed up royally was out of the question.
I was in the hospital for two days. The doctor gave me permission to go on the sailing trip only if I promised to moan and groan and not do anything. He said I probably had a hard time convincing doctors I was sick because I smiled too much and that he personally knew I was in a lot of pain.
The first time Stephi saw me after the accident she cried because I was bald like Daddy. Al bought me a wig and a couple of scarves so she wouldn't cry.
We left the next day for Florida and had a wonderful vacation. We spent two weeks island hopping through the Florida Keys on a 42', center cockpit, ketch rigged sailboat.
We arrived in St. Petersburg and took a taxi to a grocery store. We purchased enough supplies for two weeks and stowed them on the boat. Stephi and David stowed their clothes and schoolbooks in the V birth forward and Al and I stowed our things in the aft cabin.
We spent the night at the pier, cast off the first thing the next day and sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico.
We sailed down the coast and anchored on the sheltered side of an island to spend the night.
When we woke up the next morning, my head was twice as big as it should have been. We sailed back up into Tampa Bay and I took a cab to the hospital emergency room. The doctor took x-rays and said I was getting air from the hairline fracture. He gave me some "air pills" and told me to sleep in as upright position as I could. I went back to the boat and we spent the night at the pier.
The next morning, my head was back to normal so we sailed back into the Gulf.
We saw a lagoon on the chart that looked interesting. We went out far enough that we could just barely see land and sailed south. Just before dark, a thick fog rolled in and we still weren't far enough south to find a harbor. We lowered all the sails and turned the motor on.
Al was real tired. I told him to go down below and take a nap and I would wake him when we were off from the entrance.
I was motoring south using the compass, chart and speed to determine where we were. This had to be the most eerie experience of my life. The fog was so thick I could only see the boat we were on. I also had to sound the foghorn occasionally and watch for ships because we were close to the shipping lanes.
After about an hour, I looked over my shoulder and saw a mountain of lights just aft of us. Honestly, my heart stopped and I ran below and turned on every light on our boat. Of course, that woke Al and the kids up.
A loud, amplified voice proclaimed, "this is the U. S. Coast Guard, is everyone OK over there?" I yelled back that we were fine and he went around us. Lord, I didn't know the Coast Guard had cutters that big. I told Al what happened and we had a good laugh. Thank God the Coast Guard was on duty in case we did need help.
We turned east and found the entrance to the inner-coastal waterway we were looking for. We had to maneuver slowly because the entrance was narrow and there were a lot of large underground rocks on both sides of us. We had sonar so Al could steer and stay in the deepest part of the entrance; but, I went on the bow with a floodlight to watch for rocks. We made in through the entrance and tied up to a pier for the night.
The next morning we restocked Ice and headed for the lagoon. The entrance was shoaled but the tide was high and we made it in.
One of the highlights of our trip was being trapped in that lonely lagoon. The Tarpon were spawning: we had never seen anything like it. The water was crystal clear and white beaches surrounded us. The trees and underbrush provided shade for most of the day.
Stephi and David did all their homework on deck, under the stars the two nights we were in the lagoon.
We spent two days there playing in the water and beach combing before a tide high enough to get over the shoaled entrance came in. It was the kind of place you never want to leave.
On the way back out to the Gulf, we saw a store/restaurant on poles in the middle of a large area of water and decided to sail over and restock ice. The water was not as deep as it looked and we went aground. The motor could not pull us off.
Al decided to use the anchor to kedge us off the sandbar. He grabbed the anchor and jumped off the boat - he sank like a lead weight. He forgot you couldn’t swim and carry the anchor. The kids and I were cracking up. Al came up laughing and I pulled the anchor back in.
Al got into the dinghy and I eased the anchor down to him. He rowed out a ways and dropped the anchor. The boat kedged off the sandbar and we sailed elsewhere for ice.
We headed out into the gulf and went South right into a storm. We lowered the sails and everyone except Al went below where it was dry.
David decided he would go up and help Daddy. He was halfway up the steps when a wave broke over the ship and soaked Al. I have never seen David move so fast before or since: he backtracked into the cabin. He believes to this day a tidal-wave hit us.
Al and David were on their own until the storm passed. Stephi and I still had concussions and though we had never been seasick before, we spent the rest of the storm in the aft head being sick. Boy were we glad to see a port that night. The song "Harbor Lights" took on new meaning.
The rest of our vacation was uneventful. We island hopped and enjoyed the scenery.
David caught the biggest fish of the trip: a two-inch catfish.
The doctor was right: we were all OK nerve wise after our trip. David was back to normal, Stephanie's concussion was gone and I had my stitches out.
My head and broken tailbone still hurt. Al said he sure would be glad when my head was well. I told him I didn't sit on my head.
The Psychiatrist was correct. We were all much better after the vacation. The depression lifted from all of us and our nerves calmed down.
Mat 7:3-5 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
1 Pet 2:1-3 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
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