Surfing Waves in Mekoryuk, Alaska

This artwork is for the time I had to surf waves along the east Coast of Nunivak Island, coming home from a fish camp, bringing back gear and dried fish, in a small aluminum 18-foot skiff boat. I could see a dark ominous horizon, but decided to keep going and try to beat it. Bum choice. The wind picked up quickly with “white caps” coming toward the land from the northeast side. I was caught. As the waves moved closer to land, they became huge thundering white caps. To avoid rolling under the waves, I kept moving outward surfing away from land.

I realized that the gauge in the gas tank was swinging back and forth on empty. I was going to switch to another gas tank on the same fuel line, but realized that the hook-up was different. I could not stop to put in fuel with no extra hose; the waves would surely wash me under. The constant non-stop bombardment of cold waves, strong winds and the boiling rolling claws of white caps roaring toward the small skiff was horrifying.

This required a constant non-stop awareness and alertness. Depending on how fast the white caps popped up and moved towards me, I would speed up, slow down or surfed down like a surfer riding the waves in a small boat, but always-moving forward. Knowing any moment may be my last breath; I had never felt so fragile every second. I decided to fight on to the last drop of whatever gas may be left.

I was still several miles from that calm spot on a gas tank swinging on "E". Thinking of my four motherless children, I never prayed so hard in my life, yelling out loud to the Creator to give me a chance to reach that point. After finally reaching that small harbor, I anchored behind the roaring winds and waves, totally exhausted and sweating. Then I turned the gas tank upside down and opened the fuel line on both ends. There was not even a drop; the outboard motor could not start again. All that time, I was running on empty facing the vicious winds and waves for several miles. I fell on my knees cried and thanked my Lord.

Then just as suddenly as the storm came, it quickly disappeared, with such a beautiful sunset. It glowed with it's orange-red light casting itself in the clouds above me. The wind was gone. I started a fire to dry on shore and spoke with Him the rest of the night. I came to understand this was a lesson, that I must be alert and be consciously aware of life's dangers. Life is not an easy ride. By our thoughts, speech, and everything we do, and because of selfish reasons we can become unaware of life's dangers. The hurts, hatred on others, jealousy, lies, worldly pleasures, and everything that is destructive to our spirit. Despite it all, we must keep moving forward to avoid those white caps and waves constantly trying to devour us.

We live without realizing how fragile we are, never knowing how, when or where our breath will end. Some pass unexpectedly without obedience. Everyone must go through the storms of life. Always look to seek our Creator in all things, to honor Him and remind ourselves of our defenselessness against this world alone.

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John Oscar Works Arts and Crafts; Fine Arts Painting Portfolio; Alaska Native American Designs and Patterns; Alaska Native Artist Items For Sale.