Originally published December 2011.
What I Learned from Surviving the” Perfect Storm”
A number of years ago I took a business trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana which turned out to be more eventful then I could ever have imagined. Our company was performing monitoring surveys of a few of the Barrier Islands just off of the South end of Louisiana’s coastline.
We woke up very early and met the local boat operator at Port Fourchon loaded the boat and were on our way to one of the Barrier Islands. The trip was about 1 hour and when we arrived, it started raining. From what I recall, the Barrier Island was a couple of miles wide and had a breached opening in a section for us to get into the back of the island where we were doing our monitoring. As we entered the back of the island, we setup our gear and met the Air Boat operator to get into some of the shallow areas. Towards the end of the day we started to notice the weather getting worse and the rain harder, so we decided to pack up and head back to Port Fourchon. As we were all packed up and getting ready to leave we noticed the wind pick up and saw a HUGE storm heading our way.
THE PERFECT STORM
As we headed out of the breached opening, the captain started to look concerned and slowed the boat down. This was only a 22’ metal boat with at least 6 of us on-board. Not a very big boat and completely open with many of us sitting on coolers. The problem was that the waves just outside the opening were 6-8 feet and he didn’t think we could make it out of the opening. We were all still in a good mood and laughing and actually joking about the waves and our adventure. I remember specifically cheering a few times and saying “bring it on.” As we hit the second wave on the way out,the captain turned and looked at me and said “shut up and sit down,” then he told everyone to put on our life vests. He next called the Port and told them to call the coastguard and let them know we were on our way back and to call for help if we were not in Port in an hour or so.
We all sat down and headed out through the waves. The waves were so big that the captain had to basically drive parallel to the waves. He was a 20+ year veteran of the seas, but looked very concerned and told us to stay together if the boat flipped. At this time, I was planning my own survival tactics if the boat were to flip. We eventually made it back to the Port in one piece with all of us on board. I still remember that day vividly and have learned a few things from that trip and my brush with the “Perfect Storm.”
Here are a few lessons I learned from that trip that have stayed with me.
1. Every Day Matters – None of us know if we will be around tomorrow. Life is too short not to live every day to the fullest. Take time during each day to reflect and appreciate how blessed you are to be alive.
2. When Not to Joke – Sometimes we make jokes at the wrong times or in the wrong situations. Have you ever made a joke that hurt someone? I know I have, but I try to remember that Captain turning to me and telling me to zip it, obviously that was not the right time to poke fun at the situation.
3. Everyone has a Gift – I truly believe that we made it back to the Port because we had an incredible Captain. He was nervous but kept his composure and focused on getting us all back safely. Don’t be afraid to follow what you enjoy doing, it might even save someone’s life one day.
Life is full of adventure and has its up’s and down, but always remember that you never know what tomorrow will bring. Here is one of my favorite quotes:
“Live today as if it were your last, but plan on being here for tomorrow”