Miracles Happen is the story of a tragic event that happened in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador, in 2010. On August 13, Rendell Drover, a respected fisherman in the community, was injured in an industrial accident that nearly claimed his life. In this memoir, Rendell’s wife, Janice, recalls in heartbreaking detail the weeks and months that followed. Throughout his recovery, Rendell underwent a series of dangerous medical procedures . . . and lived. Doctors agreed his survival was nothing short of miraculous. Today, Rendell Drover, known locally as “the big-hearted fisherman from Upper Island Cove,” is alive and well. His story will inspire readers and remind them that, in times of crisis, miracles really can happen.
On Friday, August 13, 2010, we jumped out of bed at daylight. We didn’t need an alarm clock. It was a perfect day, not a draft of wind. It was also a perfect day to take some pictures. I had promised a friend that I would take them for a school’s twenty-fifth reunion. That would be done later in the evening. We had lots of time to enjoy our day on the water. We would be back in plenty of time, and all we had to do was retrieve our pots. We would have lots of help from our son Robin and crew member Terry when we arrived back in the port of Harbour Grace.
Rendell and I took our lunch and some fresh water and headed for our boat, Drover’s Choice, which was docked at the Admiral’s Marina in Harbour Grace South. We did our usual routine before we set sail: we checked the oil in the engine and made sure we had crab measurers and fresh water on board. Everything was fine. We untied the ropes and steamed across the harbour to the north side to pick up some pans of ice to put on our crab. Robin and Terry were planning to meet us out at the crab pots in Terry’s boat.
Rendell and I steamed out through the harbour as we had many times before. He was at the wheel and I was sitting on the deck taking in the beautiful scenery and taking pictures. I often watched the can buoys—navigational markers—pass by and would be glad to see them again in the evening on the way back home. I was sitting back on this lovely Friday morning thinking how nice it was on the water. I was with an experienced fisherman, really a jack of all trades. He had lots of patience and could untie a knot no matter how I managed to tangle up the line, especially when out cod fishing. If there was trouble with the boat, he always figured out a way to fix it. His brother Johnny would say if he was in trouble he would rather be with Rendell than with anyone else because he could always get out of any jam.
Rendell loved his life, boat, and his job. Life was good! We had steamed about halfway out when I was awakened from my thoughts. The engine had stopped. I went to see what had happened, and Rendell said that he smelled smoke and had shut down the engine. We were drifting around the harbour. I said, “What do we do now? We’ll have to call someone to tow us in!” I added, “No pots today!” We knew that Robin and Terry were out here somewhere, but where? Rendell said, “Hold on, now!” as he went down to check the engine to see what the trouble could be. A few minutes later, he emerged from the engine room, grease to his elbows. “We’ll try her, and if she starts, we’ll go on,” he said. He flicked the key, and away she went.
Steaming along by Harbour Grace Island, a little island just outside the mouth of Harbour Grace, Robin and Terry passed us just below Bryant’s Cove Point. The food fishery was on about the same time, so there were quite a few boats around, and also the Department of Fisheries were out patrolling. Robin and Terry came up alongside, and Robin got in with his father and me while Terry steamed around. We were glad to have him, just in case we had more trouble.
Rendell and Robin spotted a red balloon on the water a short distance ahead. The first pot came over the side, and we could see that there were not many crab in the pot. Rendell proceeded to haul the rope and Robin took the crab pots in over the side. I had a measure and would pick out the legal-sized crab—the smaller crab would go back in the water to grow for another season. We would stack the pots at the stern of the boat and coil the rope in the corner behind the wheelhouse. In the first fleet of pots the crab were scarce, but we had a few more fleets to haul. Hopefully we would get our quota. A fleet of pots contained thirty to fifty pots, depending on the fishermen and the size of the boat. The measure would check the size of the crab across the back. It was still early, and everything was on schedule. We ate a bit of lunch and started to haul our pots again.
The day was perfect and there were boats everywhere. The people were enjoying the food fishery. It was soon coming to an end, and they were trying to get their quota, ten codfish per boat. The next fleet of pots we hauled still wasn’t going to bring us up to our 1,200 pounds. We estimated that we had about 800 pounds on board. One more fleet to haul and we would be on our way. Around 1:00 pm, we got ready to haul our last fleet of pots, but where were they? We steamed around for hours looking for the last fleet. I climbed up on the wheelhouse to help look but to no avail. After a few hours scouring the water with no success, we decided to call it a day and head for port. We never met our quota, but it was getting late and we had to get in and unload what we did have.
It would take us an hour or more to steam up the bay, so we discussed what we would do the rest of the weekend. The plan was for me to go and take pictures for the school reunion, Robin would help his father to ship the crab, and Terry would drive the boys home after the day was done. I would pick Rendell up around 10:00 pm to go over to Golden Arm Park, where our friends would be anxiously waiting for us.
It was a nice calm day, a perfect Friday evening, and the end to another successful fishing season. Shawn, our oldest son, didn’t know that we were out fishing, so he would be glad that everything was getting clued up. We didn’t realize that this would be the very least of our worries and that this would be a day that we would never, ever forget.
Janice’s style is direct, unembellished.-- The Telegram --
I read this book at night on a flight heading to Toronto; and I am glad I did. My seat made for the perfect hideaway so that no one could see the tears running down my cheek. I could not put the book down.-- Edwards Book Club --