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Leaving Canada in her wake the Irish Wasa plodded slowly across the North Atlantic, averaging roughly 11.5 knots, and burning fifteen tons of fuel oil a day. The first land to appear on the horizon was the aptly named Rockall, an uninhabited but very British lump of rock. Next was the island of Harris and Lewis, and then the north coast of Scotland. We transited the Pentland Firth between Scotland and the Orkney Islands and then crossed the North Sea.

mv Irish Wasa – leaving Canada in her wake.

The Irish Wasa rounded the northern tip of mainland Denmark on Thursday 23 May 1974, entering the Skagerrak where I woke to find blue skies and calm seas, both very welcome after the weather we had experienced in the North Atlantic. We then headed south into the Kattegat. Our route took us through the islands of Denmark, where we had to keep to buoyed channels due to various hazards including shallow water and currents. During this time fellow cadet Martin and I managed to complete our repairs of the lifeboat covers (click for link).

Martin and I assumed that we would remain on daywork. Not so for me. The third mate woke me soon after he came off watch at midnight on 24 May and advised that I would be taking over as helmsman from one of the Portuguese able seamen (AB) on the 12-4 watch, after the AB had ‘nearly put us aground!’ I had less than an hour to wake myself up and report to the bridge. Hand steering was required because frequent alterations in course were necessary in the buoyed channels we were navigating. It struck me as somewhat ironic that a mere sixteen-year-old second trip cadet who a few days earlier had been in trouble for gluing instead of sewing patches onto the lifeboat covers was now placed in a position of trust, because an older and more experienced man had lost the trust of the officers. I made sure that I kept that trust and was also on the helm as we entered the port of Turku a couple of days later.

mv Irish Wasa: the wheelhouse – not much high-tech here!

Trust is often hard to earn but easy to lose. Humanly speaking that is. But what about trusting God? Why do humans find it so difficult to trust God? Is it because of experience gained in trusting other humans? And what about God? Can He trust us? I recall that another young seafarer (perhaps more a lake-farer) trusted Jesus enough to step out of his boat, but the moment he took his eyes off Jesus things started to go badly wrong. That’s the challenge I guess – keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus no matter what. But it’s more than that. We also need to get to know Jesus. Because unless our relationship with Him grows, then our trust in Him never will.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)