Bucket in hand you turf water over the side of your tiny sailboat as it bucks into the squall. It is a desperate act. The next wave will undo all your efforts. A few more big ones and the boat will sink.
What to do?
You could stop the eager bucket work and resign yourself to a dangerous swim in the open water. There is no doubt that if you stop the remedial measures the boat will sink.
You could keep bailing out and pray that the squall will end. At least then your continued bailing would steady the boat, maybe even raise it a little in the water above some of the less terrifying waves.
A glance at the sky leaves you forlorn. There is not even a hint of blue sky.
You look behind you and there is a huge tanker casting a vast and shadow over you. Its prow cuts through the angry water ignorant of the buffeting the waves are giving your tiny vessel.
A man in yellow waterproofs hails you from the bow of the tanker.
“Do you need help?” he asks through a loud hailer.
You raise your arms in a shrug.
“We can throw you a line. Tow you back to port” the man says holding up a ball of string. “Unfortunately we have to charge you for our trouble” he adds.
You beckon for the string not really sure what the last bit was about.
“Don’t forget to keep bailing” the man says as he tosses the string over the side. “Your boat looks like it is about to sink”.
Illogically the string feels like a lifeline. It is surely not strong enough pull the sailboat back to port but there it is. You are attached to something big and strong.
Another wave dumps a load of icy cold water into the boat. Time to bail some more.
Your hands are stinging from broken blisters and there is no respite. Every time you rest the water level rises. The bucket and your effort is not enough.
You stare at the string. It is not even taught.
You look up at the man in the tanker. He smiles back at you.
Then it hits you.
Why in the name of the Gods did you set out into a heavy squall in a small boat?