After falling overboard the cruise ship he was traveling on with his family members last Thanksgiving, a man spent nearly 20 hours treading and swimming in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The 28-year-old father from Alabama, James Michael Grimes, was on a Thanksgiving cruise aboard the Carnival Valor when the unthinkable occurred. He remembered having a few drinks at the start of the day and later that evening, after winning an air guitar competition. Then he went black.
He had no idea that on the first night of what he thought would be a lovely, relaxing time with his loved ones, he would have to confront his greatest fear. Grimes has no memory of how he fell off the ship, and when he regains consciousness, he finds himself floating alone in the middle of nowhere in the sea. “The next thing I recall is waking up in the water. The boat was no longer visible. ‘Wow, this is for real,’ I thought. “I’m out here in the sea,” he explained.
His daughter’s thoughts The fight for his life and overcoming his own fear of drowning followed. Grimes claimed that he could only have survived those long hours at sea due to divine intervention. “Even when I try, I can’t float myself…” “When I was out there, the Lord was with me,” he said. Thoughts of his 9-year-old daughter, Annabeth, filled James’ mind as he swam and treaded water.
Thinking about how badly he wanted to meet his daughter motivated him to keep going, even as he endured jellyfish stings and a terrifying encounter with a large fish that he mistook for a shark. Meanwhile, hunger and exhaustion were taking their toll on him. Finally, rescue arrives. His family aboard the ship were unaware of what was going on and were unaware that Grimes was missing until his sister alerted the family and then the crew of the ship that James was nowhere to be found on the ship. The crew of the ship then notified the Coast Guard of a missing passenger.
The Coast Guard then launched a search and rescue operation to find Grimes. Grimes, thankfully, was discovered alive. When the rescue helicopter arrived, he was placed in a basket and airlifted from the water to safety. His rescuer stated that Grimes was discovered just in time, and that if the rescue efforts had been delayed any longer, he would have died.
“I’m still bruised and sore, but it’s a miracle I’m still alive. It was not my time to pass away. “I’m grateful to be reunited with my family,” Grimes said. Throughout the ordeal, he had found strength and hope in God. Grimes’ lack of even a cut, let alone a broken bone, was a miracle. For him and his family, it was truly a Thanksgiving miracle.
The entire experience has given James a new sense of purpose. It opened his eyes and taught him a valuable lesson about not taking anything or anyone for granted in life. He is even planning on going on a cruise ship in the future because he did not get to go on this one and says he will not be discouraged by what happened to him.