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It was around mid-summer and the whole year Jason had been thinking about going out to sea on his boat. Soon it was August 15th and today was the day. Not a cloud in the sky and not a worry in the world. He packed all of his clothes, fishing supplies, and food for the two weeks. He made sure to check, double check, and triple check that he had everything. This was the trip he had been waiting for since he was 13. 10 years he had been planning this, every single aspect had been planned for. As he drove down I-17 the boat in the trailer behind him, the radio was all the way up, he had his sunglass and hat on and all he could see was open ocean. Within 15 minutes he was at the bay, sending his boat into the water. As he set sail the water was smooth and there was a slight breeze. It couldn’t have been a better day. The animals we swimming through the water, the water was crisp, and the sun was bright. Around 8:15 he dropped the anchor and headed in to make some dinner. Turning on the TV to listen to the nightly news, getting a box of mac n cheese and a glass of water was going to become so common for Jason. After he finished making his dinner he sat down in front of the TV he watched the news.

“As you can see we are going to have a heatwave coming up the gulf and across the states. However, we also have about 15-20 mph winds coming so the beaches will be wavey.” It didn’t bother him too much that the wind was picking up but he hoped it would only last a day or two. He woke up in the night with the boat getting pushed around, rolling side to side, and waves crashing into the sides. Quickly he threw on some of his rain clothes and opened the hatch. He watched as most of his boxes were sliding on the deck, some had probably gone over already. Thinking is his head, what the hell is going on, it never was supposed to be this bad. As he ran around the deck grabbing as many boxes as he could throw them in the storage compartments, he remembered one thing, he forgot to pull up the anchor. He ran to the control panel reeling up the anchor. All he could think about was getting the anchor up so the boat wouldn’t flip. He was pressing the button so hard it almost broke. Time was ticking as the boat tipped more and more, the sides we close to water level. As the anchor reached the deck, Jason grabbed it throwing it in the hole. He ran around the deck grabbing everything he could, stumbling side to side as the boat was swung around, quickly he hurried to reach the living area. With all of his important belongings he sat on the ground soaking wet, his mind wandered to thoughts of his family and if he would ever make it back. There was a soft whimpering coming from underneath the bed. Suddenly Jason remembered that he had brought Max, he ran over to comfort him, as he lay in the corner curled up in a ball, Jason felt terrible for forgetting him. Max loved to hang out in the boat when it was at the house and he forgot to make sure he wasn’t on the boat before he left. At this point, he felt better having Max with him as he was alone in the ocean as it threw his boat around he would have someone to calm him.

“It’s okay Max, I’m sorry I forgot you on here, it will be okay I promise”

“Grrrrrrrr, Bark, Bark,” said Max

“Just relax Max” mentioned Jason

However, for Max, he had never really left the house and the fear in his eyes was blatant. Jason fed the dog and decided he would try and get some sleep and figure out what to do in the morning. He woke up to Max licking his face and barking. Jason rolled out of bed, made some breakfast and turned on the TV. As he sat there he watched the news to see that he might never see his family again. As stage 4 hurricane passing through the Gulf of Mexico and it was going to pass through his only path back in 4 days. Jason ran up to the deck, scanning for anything that would help him figure out where he was. As he looked left and right all he saw was endless open ocean. Turning to the control panel he turned on the GPS and typed in the closest docking area to him. As he looked at the time it would take his heart shot through his chest with excitement: 3 days. He knew that he had to start his trip back immediately. He pointed the boat toward home and put the throttle to the max, knowing he had to hurry as when he got closer the weather would continuously get worse. As Jason sat on the deck, the wind flew through his hair, the occasional splash of water came onto the floor, but all he could think about was how he was gonna make it back. Would the storm flip the boat? Would we even be able to beat the storm if the water gets rough again? Will I ever see my wife and kids again? It was almost 3 o’clock, Jason decided if he had any chance of making it through the storm without losing anything else he would have to do some work. He grabbed all of the loose items on the deck and put them below in storage. The first task was to cover the deck, this would eliminate any damage that would lead to the sinking of the boat and it would keep water out of the bottom. He grabbed the tarp and the rope. He quickly covered the deck tying the tarp to the railings. Secondly, he made sure to take down the sun cover on the back half of the boat. After finishing all of his tasks he checked the course the boat was on. He was still on track to make it back before the storm hit but felt uneasy about making it back in time. As 10 o’clock approached he made a critical decision to leave the boat running through the night and hope that he wouldn't hit anything or have his direction changed. Around 3 AM he awoke to Max barking, water had covered the floor as was slowly seeping inform the door to the deck. He quickly awoke knowing that he was in grave danger. He gathered all of his clothes and approached the door. With one strong push, he opened the door and water quickly flowed down the stairs, after taking one step up, his heart froze, his hair stood up and he stood in aw. A wave that had to be a minimum of 40 feet toppling toward him. He shut the door, grabbed all the towel cramming them by the seams of the door. He grabbed Max and lay under the bed. With a jolting shot, the boat nose-dived under the wave and for a few seconds stayed there before rising to the surface crashing through. As Jason climbed from the bottom of the boat to the steering wheel the water wouldn't stop crashing onto the deck. Finally, he made it. Grabbing the wheel and weaving his way through the waves, checking the GPS he was only 13 hours from shore, but the Hurricane had moved up to a category 6, with a possible tsunami. Knowing that this was his only chance he shot towards shore pushing the boat to its max. After 10 hours of twist and turns, Jason was almost home. But with only 3 hours left the storm was close and soon enough it would be directly in front of him. Within minutes the boat was moving but not the way it was supposed to. The ocean currents were too strong, moving the boat wherever they pleased. Jason knew at this point he was in the storm, the boat was moving left and right without hesitation and soon it could flip. He decided that if he didn’t do something soon that he would be lost at sea, alone and would likely never see his family again. He rummaged through his storage area looking for his flare gun. As he found it he thought this was his only hope. The sky was a deep gray, the clouds sat low. The rain was pouring, crashing into him it felt as if he has rocks bouncing off of his body. Shooting a flare into the sky every 5 minutes thinking of someone was out here that they would see him. As he got down to his last 3 flares he heard the noise of a helicopter, the blades spinning and the wind rushing. He shot 2 straight up in the thought that they would find him. As the helicopter got closer he knew they still didn't know where he was. He loaded the flare gun with his last flare, pointing it at the sky, all of his hopes and dreams were in that shot; as he watched it soar through the air. Sparks flying in all directions, it reached its peak and slowly descended as it faded off into the distance. He knew that was all he had if that didn’t work he would have nothing. Soon enough the helicopter flew around, the joy in Jason's heart was immense and knew his life had been saved. The helicopter dropped its ladder and Jason climbed up with Max in hand. To this day Jason has never gone out to see as he has flashbacks of what could’ve been his last days.

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