The Dance

limbo

noun (1)

lim·bo | \ ˈlim-(ˌ)bō  \
plural limbos

1: often capitalized an abode of souls that are according to Roman Catholic theology barred from heaven because of not having received Christian baptism

2aa place or state of restraint or confinement trapping travelers in an airless limbo—Sam Boal

ba place or state of neglect or oblivion proposals kept in limbo

can intermediate or transitional place or state the adolescent occupies a special human limboNew Republic

da state of uncertainty The graduate was in limbo for a while, trying to decide what to do next.

e: a dance or contest that involves bending over backwards and passing under a horizontal pole lowered slightly for each successive pass

Last month I spoke about our lives in the last few years, the boat, JoAnne’s cancer and right after that we were put on alert watching Hurricane Florence form off the coast of Africa and make the long trek across the sea, to finally visit the USA.

In the few weeks after publishing that entry in August, I spent a lot of time cleaning up the boat, getting her ready for the fall trip to the Bahamas.  Then Florence formed, and it appeared to be heading right for Southport, NC.  The news was all over the place on possible hit locations, the NHC was all over the place, the Spaghetti models were everywhere.  The only thing that was accurate was my own predictions that it would hit somewhere between Myrtle Beach and Beaufort, NC.  And I was accurate about that part.

JoAnne and I started preparing the boat for a hurricane, and finally on Tuesday just before it hit, we also received a call from her oncologist’s office back in Colorado.  We had four weeks to return to begin a treatment plan.  A PET scan had been ordered and taken care of the Friday before.  The doctors read the scans and decided she had some “area of concern” which the oncologist believed to be a recurrence.

On Wednesday morning, of “official, mandatory evacuation” and in light of a probably Category Four hurricane hitting full on in North Carolina, near to us, we packed the last of our belongings we’d not place in storage and I started the car, looked to JoAnne and said, “Where too?”

We had no idea where to go, which way to run or who would take us in for a few days.  With the car running, we called her Brother down in Florida and told him the situation, and he had us come to stay with he and his wife for a few days.  We knew we wanted to return to the boat before heading back to Colorado, and probably hit our storage locker once more for cold weather clothing, usually kept in storage in the summer.

We spent a week in Florida visiting with friends and her brother.  When we attempted to return to North Carolina, the rivers were just cresting, roads were out, flooded and bridges damaged, roads closed, and basically those who got home to Brunswick county were already close in, and had an idea of which roads to take avoiding the dangerous conditions (and road blocks).

Many made it home, but we could not. Our time was running out.

We made for Colorado.  Friends are caring for our boat, which suffered only minor, external damage.  Lost a solar panel, the bimini and it was damp below.  I have plans to head back there once we get JoAnne settled into a routine.

This past week was a mess with the doctors and insurance.  We argued with both for hours, until finally, the insurance company told the doctor’s office what we’d been saying all along; we do NOT need a referral to her oncologist (since she has been seeing him for four years) and we’re on Tricare standard which does NOT require ANY referrals for ANY outpatient care.

The doctors also told us, that there were two areas of concern, not one.  One area on her lung, and another somewhere between kidney and liver, very non specific.  We will find out how specific that is on this coming Tuesday.

Another CT scan was performed a few days ago, after the battles with Insurance and the Dr. office, and we now have more information.

Friday she was called and told that she will be commencing chemotherapy soon, after a port is installed and we see the doctor once more so we can work out a schedule and plan to fight this.  He told the caller to tell JoAnne that the lung issue is a “recurrence” rather than a new form of cancer (lung cancer perhaps).  He was unsure prior to the CT scan, but is more confident of his diagnosis now I suppose.

(Personally, I am NOT more confident yet, and have questions.)

At the beginning I put up a definition. The definition was for the word Limbo, a word I used in the previous blog entry from August.

Limbo, from the definition is a place… without a destiny or destination.

It’s also a dance…

Kind of like life.  Life is a dance or journey.  You never know when you’re young how the moves go.  You have to be taught.  Some of us, like me, never learned how to dance, I just listen to the music.  But, there are times when bending over backward to accomplish something important is how you get it done.  Going in the wrong direction to reach your destination can get frustrating.

Our destination is, and always will be, to sail the islands, from the Bahamas on to the rest of the Caribbean.  We have found that life isn’t really a “dance”, but a journey without a true “destination”.  The “Dance” part comes in at successive times in life, when you’re worried, when you’re up against some seemingly insurmountable task and just about ready to give up and quit, you Dance.

It can be a jig, a limbo, a foxtrot, or the twist.  Whatever it is, at the end, you will come out stronger, better, and more in tune with life.

JoAnne and I had a dance the last few days with Life.  It wasn’t a journey, it didn’t turn out to be a destination, merely a diversion.  We talked and discussed this dance, and found that we have decided that we will no longer live our lives around medical issues, we will deal with them around our lives.

After we get the plan in place, we’ll have about three weeks before the next chemo session.  This will give us time to travel back across country, see our boat, repair the damage, prepare her for winter (by dumping water, checking engine etc) and collect the Colorado Clothing we’ll need, and then return to our family and support system here.

Adventure has proven she can and will survive whatever Nature throws at her for now.  It’s not her time, and it’s certainly not OUR time.

So to our friends in Southport, Kevin and Debi, we thank you for looking after our home, Adventure, and WE WILL BE BACK SOON!   To our family, Especially Nick and Levi, thank you for your support.  To those we left behind in the disaster, you will rise up stronger.

And for us…. We’re going sailing again, very, very soon.

 

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Cruising, without going anywhere

I suppose the idea of cruising in a sailboat (or any boat for that matter) entails travel, seeing new places, meeting new people, having new experiences and generally involves the movement of your boat.

As JoAnne and I have discovered though, cruising the world at a SLOWER pace than most, we find that we make friends easily and tend to keep them, and we don’t have to move too much to do so.

Over the past three years we’ve traveled a lot, both by car and boat.  We’ve been to places we’d never been together, made a lot of new friends, and found places we really enjoyed being… including Southport, NC.  When we landed here, we thought we’d be moving further south as soon as possible, and that never happened due to a variety of problems.  Everything from medical issues in our family, including my youngest brother, to engine issues, car problems and general circumstances conspired to keep us tied to, and in South Harbour Village Marina.

We’ve become so accustomed to being here, that when we were requested to leave the really nice slip we were in (due to the private owner selling it out to someone else) we felt like we were being evicted.  We moved only a few slips down and remained on B-Dock where many of our friends live on their own boats.  We even have a B-Dock group on Facebook for all of us to post things and to help one another if necessary.

Over the past year and a half here, I’ve worked for the marina.  There were three reasons I took the job.  The first reason was because I needed to take up some of my time, the second for the fun of it, and the third was for a little beer money or to offset the cost of the slip.   The last doesn’t really do both, but, it’s sufficient I suppose.  I left a job that paid me over 5 times what I make a dock hand here at the marina (including tips), so if I wanted a job that made a lot of money, I might have found something different.  Mostly, this was for fun (and I even explained to the Dockmaster, “When this is no longer fun, I quit!) and it has been a lot of fun.  But it’s really not my life, nor my lifestyle, nor is it something I will continue to do.

I don’t feel like I want to “die at work”.  The truth is, I think we’ve heard Mother Ocean calling to us again.

We do have a deadline too.  JoAnne has been cancer-free since August of 2014.  We bought Adventure in January 2015, one year after her diagnosis.  She spent months going in every three weeks to chemo, then the following Sunday morning to get a shot to help her white blood cells regenerate.  She worked through all of it, albeit, with a few less hours than was normal.

She found this boat in November of 2014 after she was declared cancer-free.  We did the survey, and eventually I wound up having my own medical issues after buying the boat.  We still managed to beat mortality for a bit longer, and got to the boat, moved aboard and starting moving the boat south.

We spend long periods of time in places that we like, moving around only when necessary or when we truly HAVE to sail.  We like it here, but again, we both need more, and to move on.  And we’re not getting younger.  In fact, JoAnne is seeing a rise in her blood work numbers about cancer.

Over the past few months, since June, her CA-125 blood test has been coming back elevated.  It spiked, and in fact, doubled since last year’s test.  The oncologist ordered a CT scan, and found nothing.  Other tests have been performed, all showing “no problems”.

Right now we are working with local doctors, and they with Colorado doctors to set up a PET scan to determine if there is a recurrence of cancer.  We will have three choices then….

  1. We go back to Colorado if there IS a recurrence and go through whatever necessary treatment is available, designed to combat this hateful disease.
  2. We take crap off the boat we don’t need, put food and water aboard that we do, and we set sail for the Bahamas.
  3. If the “recurrence” isn’t great and it’s not time for chemo or other treatment, we still go (and this is what’s really up in the air at this time).

What we don’t know is how long we get to go for, how long treatments take (we can guess of course), or the outcome of such treatments.  We don’t know the outcome of the PET scan, since it hasn’t been accomplished as of yet.

So, we’re hanging in Limbo right now, waiting for doctors and hospitals to arrange things and get going on this, get it done and let us know the situation.

Right now, I’m ready to quit my job to be here until she gets her medical tests done, so I’m always available for her.  But, I don’t think I’ll do that yet.  We also know she’s in good health, and good spirits, and has no issues at all, so we’re at the point of thinking this may be the place here blood work is going to “settle down” and stable for now.  At least that’s my hope.

No matter what happens in the next few weeks, we will be making our trip to the Bahamas somehow.  We prefer it to be IN our boat, under our own power, without the help of airplanes, or cars, but we don’t know yet.  We also want to go back to the British Virgin Islands, again, in this boat rather than by plane.  It’s going to happen, it’s only a matter of when.

I have a few things to do with the boat, nothing at all critical.  She’s ready to go now, with the exception that I have a slight exhaust leak in the manifold, which probably is a relatively easy fix I think (gaskets most likely) and I want to work on a water maker system I have purchased, but haven’t even unboxed it yet.  We can likely get away without using it, but, I’d like it on the boat for “just in case” at this point.

Other than that, a simple clean sweep of the boat, stowing things, and getting the deck mostly cleared is all we really have left to do to get out on a long voyage.  We can leave here in minutes if necessary, though somewhat unprepared for a long trip, but short hops maybe.  We’ve hesitated on starting provisioning again, due to the above medical issues keeping us waiting.

I guess, in a way, long term cruising or “extended cruisers” have to make a lot of compromises about everything from readiness to weather, to their abilities to medical problems.  We are, I suppose not what some would call “cruisers” because we’re not constantly moving with the boat, but we are in so many other ways.

This town has captured our hearts.  We love it here, so even if we run down the coast, or down Island we will be returning here, no matter what.

I hope all our friends, family, fans and followers will keep JoAnne in their prayers and thoughts for good a good medical report.  Thank you all for reading.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,

Rick

Sad News from a friend

Bear with me a moment, because I have to introduce why I am posting.

I’ve been searching for information about the boat we own, called “Adventure”.

She has had three names I’ve been able to find through USCG Documentation, and owned by three people according to the USCG.  Or course, this presupposes the boat has been Documented all along, and I suspect that this might not be true.

The first owner I can determine is James A. Mallon, and the boat appears to have been named “BESHERT”.    I guess technically, it means “Preordained” or “Inevitable” really, and there are explanations having to do with “Soulmates” associated with the word “Beshert”. Since I don’t speak Yiddish, this might be all wrong, but, to me, it’s close enough and probably meant that to that owner.  I can find little information on Mr. Mallon (except that he may have been a CEO for a large banking institution).

The next owner purchased the boat with the name “DUNA”… which, honestly none of us have an idea what it means exactly.  Mr. Richard Stapleton was the previous owner before us, and is the real reason I am writing today.  Mr. Stapleton retired from the US Government, as I did, a few years back, and had to sell the boat, he said, due to knee replacement surgery.  He felt unsteady doing things on the boat after said surgery.

Dick Stapleton sold us the boat knowing we were planning to eventually be “World Cruisers” and we’ve honestly worked toward that goal, but have thus far been only “Coastal Cruisers”.  Over the course of the next two years and a couple thousand miles we’ve moved the boat up and down the East Coast of the United States, exploring the Chesapeake, and Delaware Bays, Potomac River and managed to make it to Cape Fear North Carolina.  A little short of the original goal.  That goal remains, and we have decided it will happen, starting with Bahamas this season.

Two years ago, our friend and the previous owner of Adventure (Formerly Duna) began a battle with cancer, not unlike my wife’s own fight.  A few days ago he posted that he had made the decision to give up the treatments.  Here is his letter in full.  (Note:  I’ve asked for permission to reprint it, but there has been no response yet, but, that’s understandable, and since it is posted on FB mostly in public,  I’m going to put it into the blog anyway as it is important to us all.)

 

Dear friends,

A little over 2 ½ years ago, I wrote to update you on the progress in my fight against cancer, and a few of the many ways in which Andrea and I have taken advantage of the weeks and months of life – well enjoyed. I must write to you today to say that that battle is nearing its end.

We made the decision to stop treatment last week. My body is telling me it’s tired, it’s time to rest. I began in-home hospice care this week and for the first time in years, I won’t have to go to a doctor appt. or hospital visit every day. It’s time to relax.

When I initially wrote, one year into that journey, I expressed my appreciation for knowing there was an end date as it let us reset priorities; less about getting the car washed and getting to Costco and more about shared experiences like travel, time with friends and family and visits to smell the roses at the New York Botanical Garden.

With Andrea’s unflagging support (itself a full-time job) and Hackensack’s wonderful care and experience, I reach the end of this journey with my bucket lists overflowing. Whether through work or shared interests, you have all touched me in some way and enriched my life.

Thank you, my dear friends, for being a part of this wonderful life.

I welcome emails or FB messages, and Andrea will make sure I see them all. I may not respond personally but please know I appreciate the love and support I’ve already received.

-Dick

With a heavy heart, I post this… While I did not know Mr. Stapleton well, I knew him well enough. He was, like me, a person who dedicated a good portion of his life to this Great Country, and was a sailor, like myself and my wife, JoAnne.  Our paths never crossed in our respective jobs, but, I certainly know of his dedication in his position with the Department in which he worked.

Through Adventure, the ship he sold us, I continue to learn more about the heart of others.

For JoAnne and I, the future is blurry, no one knows what is coming tomorrow or the next day, usually.  But, we intend to do our best with what we’re given.

Jimmy Buffett said it best;

“Let those winds of time blow over my head,
I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.”

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Richard Stapleton.  I salute you, Sir.

June 2018

At the beginning of June, JoAnne and I had to make the long, arduous journey across 4000 miles.  Ok, well, 1980 miles to Colorado and back again to North Carolina.

We had the annual doctor’s appointments to go do once again, post chemo/cancer checkups for her, and a quick heart check up for me.

We arrived on Monday evening, 11 June at my youngest son’s house.  We were exhausted after stopping in Kentucky to hit a family reunion, and then in Missouri to spend the night with some friends before traveling on to Colorado.

The next morning we made it downtown to the hospital to do blood work for JoAnne.  We had a bunch of appointments scheduled throughout the week.  But, Tuesday night would become “Early Wednesday Morning of the Storm from Hell”.

At about 2:00 AM on Wednesday, the sky opened up.  It began to rain.  Then small hail fell.  When the first large piece of hail hit the roof, I thought we were being bombed.   Indeed, we were.  By the sky.

Hail the size of softballs began to pelt the neighborhood.  I hear my son yell from his room and made my way there, amid the explosive sounds of massive chunks of ice hitting the front and roof of the house.  His large windows in his bedroom were gone, rain and hail pouring into the broken panes.  We grabbed some tarps to throw over the inside to help prevent too much more damage and I managed to get JoAnne out of the room as our windows shattered.

Going down stairs and outside on the protected front porch I observed total chaos.  Car and trucks in the area were being smashed to pieces by the hail.  Trees (new neighborhood, so very small ones) were being stripped of leaves and then of their branches.  The front yard was covered in hail, some of it the size of tennis balls, all the way up to softball sized hail.

We were up until nearly four in the morning waiting for the storm, rain and wind to subside.  I don’t think there were reported tornadoes but the cell certainly was powerful enough to have dropped one.  I checked as best I could in the darkness for wall clouds, funnels, and so on without venturing out and getting killed by hail.

I watched as the rear window on our car was hit directly with a large hailstone, which at first I thought exploded.  Later when the hail ceased, I went out to check the damage and it had been the window shattering into a million tiny pieces.  The glass was scattered from the car to the street and sidewalks.  There was glass in the front seats.  It had literally exploded.

Since we only had liability on the vehicle, insurance wouldn’t even look at it.  I ended up buying a car from my son (which was a spare after he’d purchased a new one) and gave the other to my daughter (who had the time and ability to work on replacing the damaged windows, mirrors and other parts that were badly messed up).

Fortunately, my son’s vehicles were all in the garage.  Every, single car that was sitting outside suffered minor to severe damage, some vehicles completely totaled.   The fences in back looked like someone had shot holes through it was shot gun slugs.  Roofs on neighboring homes had been punctured all the way into the ceilings down below, the hail was hitting so hard!

To my knowledge no one was injured, but I’m pretty certain some cows out around the area probably were killed that night.   I’m sure that animals suffered greatly out there.

We needed to borrow my son’s car the next day to get to the rest of the appointments, and I ended up simply buying the car from him to fulfill our schedule over the next two weeks.  All-in-all, most things went well.

We did find that JoAnne’s CA-125, the blood work to check for tumors, had more than doubled, which gave us all a scare.  A CT scan was ordered and they found no sign of cancer.  However, the doctor wants up back in September.  There’s more to this story, but I’m not going to fill it in at present.  I will mention there are other things that can cause an elevation in the CA-125 numbers, and we believe at the moment that something did just that.  We plan to see some local doctors here in NC to have more tests performed to make the final determination about going back to Colorado in September.

I discovered I have a slight leak in my “New to me Heart Valve” that was put in in May 2015.  I wonder if they had a 10 year warranty program?  Probably not, so perhaps I can find something like “Leak Stop” I can drink…. perhaps more bacon?  I dunno.

On a better note, we managed to get back to North Carolina unscathed by any more freak storms, after stopping back in Missouri and spending several wonderful days with our friend Mike and Cindy.  We also stopped in Ashville and visited with a couple of friends there, did some beer tastings in some of the breweries and then finally headed home to Southport and our ship, Adventure.

Upon arrive, I checked our batteries, as I’d left them on the smart charger (the new one I put in after the fire) and they were in excellent shape, not over heated, had not lost much water from the cells, and the status was very good.  The boat however, needed a decent washing again.  Mold appears on the outside often.

I went back to work about the 9th of July at the marina here, and found I’d not forgotten anything I needed to remember…. except to get up for work in the mornings.  I wasn’t late, but might have been had I not had JoAnne wake me up to tell me my alarm was going off (for fifteen minutes).

Now, JoAnne has some appointments scheduled here to go in for a new check up locally, and we’re going to be making a decision about Colorado or Bahamas soon.

In the mean time, a few days ago, I managed to drop my phone into a sink, with water running.  It was a klutzy move on my part, as I was trying to grab a pair of sunglasses I’d dropped, fumbled those, and smacked the phone sideways and into the sink.  I didn’t catch either the glasses OR the phone.  DOH!

I immediately grabbed it out, shook the water away from the charging port and earphone jack and we removed the battery as quickly as possible.  Still, the phone’s mic and the Home button ceased functioning.  I opened it up and dried it (It wasn’t really damp inside anyway) and placed it, you guessed it, into a “bag of rice”, purported to help dry phones due to rice’s ability to absorb moisture.  I don’t really think it worked.  But the phone DID seem to work better the next day.

Yesterday, we drove to a place in Wilmington to have the phone repaired.  They ran it through a drying machine (for three hours) and apparently attempted to “repair” some of it. They got the Home button working, but broke the other two buttons.  The microphone is still dead.  And they supposedly backed up my data, but deleted all my pictures.  All 2000 of them, including the hail damage and my favorite images of JoAnne (Dummy me, I’d forgotten to back it up before I left!)

Grrr… Well, on the way back… the car started acting up.  We hit some major puddles on the way back and things got wet.  I suspect the electronics in the car (I’m really having issues with electronics and water, huh?) got wet and when we arrived here in Southport, to stop at a store, the car wouldn’t start back up.

It growled funny at us and eventually, after five or six attempts it started up.

However, there was another sound.  Coming from the air conditioner unit.  We believe the bearings on the device are shot.  We’re supposed to drive to Myrtle Beach today for a concert, but apparently, that’s a bad idea.  Instead we’re riding with friends and I’ll get parts on order for the car on Monday.

So the last two months have been “One thing or another”, as usual for the “Adventurers”.

One last thing before I go.

We have been discussing a “Watermaker” for the boat.  We’ve done the pros and cons, including the costs/return benefits and realize we probably wouldn’t ever save enough money making our own water but still want the ability to be independent of having to buy it in islands or have to purchase a dock for the night to get water.  We have been staying here in Southport on a dock and DO have access to water, which is great.  And for the last 5 days, we’ve had enough rain to fill our tanks several times, but setting up a catchment without a real need isn’t fun or convenient.

Over the course of our research, we found several places and most of them were $5000 USD and up.  There are a lot of folks who are DIYers and build their own stuff.  While I have the ability to do so, I usually don’t have the time to sit and measure, design and find all the parts.

In comes a company called Seawater Pro and owner, Michael.  He offers a “kit” that consists of all the pieces you need, including a lift pump, the gauges, and hoses, the reverse osmosis filter, prefilters and the pressure pump required to get you started.

The only “con” to this system is, it’s in pieces and runs on AC power (120 volts) because it uses an inexpensive pressure washer system as the pressure pump.  That means AC power is required (something most people don’t have unless they 1) have generation, 2) are on a dock, 3) have a heavy inverter – mine is dead now, due to the fire a couple of months back) and it just doesn’t seem “easy” to use.

However, I’ve spoken to Michael on the phone a couple times and on FB with one of the representatives from the company and was convinced that this might be our best, and cheapest option.  So I went ahead and discussed this with Michael at https://seawaterpro.com/ and decided to purchase the kit.

That will be the subject of an upcoming blog entry in a few weeks I hope, sooner if I get the car running and my phone back to 100%.  So, stay tuned for more on the water maker, because I will feel better being able to rinse out my bathing suit with fresh water, in the Bahamas come November and December this year!

(and shower, if I want…. )

More to follow on the Watermaker.

Here is a video for anyone interested in checking it out.  https://youtu.be/6SYHVs-uZE0

(By the way, I am sorry about no pictures of the hail

Boat Repairs (again) and thoughts on others’ misfortunes

A few weeks ago we experienced first (on a Monday) being told we’d have to move out of our nice slip to somewhere else, second, (on a Tuesday) a fire (in the inverter/charging system), and third, (on a Wednesday) a runaway engine.

Over the course of the last few weeks with the help of a local mechanic, we figured out the engine issue – a crack in a gasket which sucked in some oil and cause the engine to go nuts and speed up.  Also the fuel pump required (after that) a rebuild of the thing, replacing an diaphragm.

I removed and rewired the boat so I had AC applied back to the systems where I needed it, and have installed a new charger for the system.  It is not yet “permatized”.  I need to mount it to the bulkhead, and hardwire it into the system through a breaker.  Right now it’s plugged into a wall socket on a temporary basis.

The slip issue was something we couldn’t fix.  The slip was privately owned and the owner decided, without notice to sell it, requiring us to move.  The problem is, now I’m in a supposedly 50′ slip and sticking out into the fairway.  Not cool.

We’re also riding in the mud again.  Again, not cool.

So this has prompted me to request that the marina find us another long-dock slip and get us into ASAP.  That is moving slowly.  Or perhaps not at all.  I don’t know.

Now, I am rethinking remaining here.  We are in a tenuous position on this dock, having had to back into it to even be able to get off the boat safely… the finger pier is only 25′ long and bow sprit-to-gangway is 33′.  Thus, we can’t get off the boat safely if we pull into the dock.  Backing in has placed our cabin against the dock, where people walk past all evening, make noises and so on.

I have been calling around in the south to locate a marina that might be a little better for us, but they are all vastly more expensive, sometimes double and triple the cost of this one.  Many don’t allow people to live aboard their boats either.  Some do for an excessive fee.  Others don’t care one way or the other (and it is dependent upon the state, county and local rules).

I have several good places and we will examine them individually soon.  The marina manager doesn’t want to lose me as an employee though.  Perhaps something will be worked out soon.

In the mean time we’re examining our options to just go to a mooring ball, live on the hook awhile, or find another marina to “call home”.  We want to be further south anyway, and be able to access the ocean so, it’s going to cost a bit more no matter what we do I think.

We have a storage locker with a few things in it, which will have to come to the boat, a boat box on the dock (for things we move in and out of the boat) that I’ll need to get rid of, a car, which might have to go into storage for a time until we find a place to bring it.   We need the car to get back and forth across country (flying is not for me any more and is significantly more expensive than travel by car; renting a car is out of the question for long trips, also too expensive).  Everyone wants your money, don’t they?

Over the course of the past few weeks, we went south to Charleston (Twice now) taking our friend Kevin down to retrieve his truck after he brought a boat back up from there and delivered it here.  We went this past weekend to hang out with our friends Alison and Daniel aboard Equus, for a couple of evenings.  We had a good time talking and hearing about their trip to the Bahamas.

I went sailing with Norm from the marina when he took his 94 year old Grandfather out and helped out on the boat.  His grandpa has been sailing since he was about 4 or 5 years old.  He took the tiller and had a grand time.  I stuck to running the jib sheets while Norm handled the main.  We might go out this Friday for awhile too (Norm, myself and one other).

This brings me to the last thing I want to write about here… the Couple from Colorado, who hit something in the water a few months back, lost their keel and sank their boat.

(See: http://www.tampabay.com/news/Couple-whose-dream-boat-sank-finally-set-sail-on-new-adventure-_168471537)

(See also: http://www.tampabay.com/sold-everything-to-sail-the-world-boat-sank-next-day)

The Facebook groups and forums are all over these people.  Some folks in the groups are so judgmental of the couple over this accident.  Yes, it was an accident.  Yes, people have accidents all the time.  People make mistakes, all the time.  Sailors are prone to accidents – though we all strive not to be the cause of one, they still happen.

Articles written about these folks cast them in a bad light, give others a chance to say how “stupid” they are, or “inexperienced” or just nasty things.

What I have come to learn about most of these forums is that 90% or better of the people in the groups have very little “cruising” experience.  A few do, sure, but most are day time, fair weather sailors who spend the majority of their time polishing the gelcoat on their boats.  Some of them brag about having had to “spend time paying their dues” on boats as crew, or under the tutelage of “masters”, and yet, still put down the people who are simply trying to live their dreams.

Granted, not everyone jumps in feet first without knowing how to swim, but a few do.  And they WILL learn the hard way how to do things.  We took sailing courses and spent a few years gaining experience before moving aboard our cruising vessel, Adventure.  And neither of us had crossed “oceans” before – nor have we yet.  We’ve spent extensive time in the Chesapeake, and in the Atlantic coming down the coast, sailing offshore near Cape Fear and a lot of time motoring the ICW in this boat.  Every day, you learn something new. Every time you make a mistake, you learn NOT to do that again, or what to watch for next time.

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Cruising too, is a journey, not a destination.  We don’t expect to set a schedule any more.  We don’t try to beat the weather now, or the night, we deal with it.  No one should be dissuaded about pursuing their dreams because a few nay-sayers are angry over circumstances beyond the control of the dreamers.  No one could have predicted their keel would fall off, they’d hit something, or lose all their property.

On the other hand, Common Sense says one must be prepared for every contingency.  Like, not sailing with a fin keel that is bolted to your boat.  Or taking all your cash with you.  Or any one of a dozen other little things that happened to that couple.  Common Sense, however, isn’t common  I suppose and  I can only hope that this couple learned from their mistakes, and they do not make them again.

We wish them well on their journey, fair winds and following seas–and hope they accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

And I sincerely hope that Facebook Groups begin weeding out the negative ninnies and nay-sayers that “know it all”, because of all the unhelpful things and people out there, they are the worst of the worst.

Florida – by car

We sat around discussing what to do a month or so back after a failed attempt to depart for the Bahamas.

Spending the day and well into the night sailing a long tack (40 miles total) off shore only to manage to make five nautical miles off shore gave me a reason to want to give up on sailing again.  That was a short lived thought though.  We sailed nicely under most sail and it gave me a lot of night experience, which was great.

Our extra crew member was disappointed, but he took off for California a few days later (and sooner I think than he’d originally intended).  But, in the end, all was good.  We got back in our own slip the next day and we’re back on the docks.

Our discussion turned to doing a road trip, which both of us are always up for.

So, contacting our son, who had wanted to meet us in February anyway, JoAnne and Nick planned a place to stay, dates, and so forth.  We also contacted friends there, and made a decision also to look at a second boat (maybe because it was supposed to have a new engine in it).

On the way to Florida, we were passing through Brunswick, Ga, and the car started acting weird, right after fueling up.  Finally, she sputtered and died at around 75mph going south on I-95.  We coasted almost two miles on the side of the road to get us closer to an exit, and presumably a tow truck.

I checked the car, the computer system, the gas (thinking I somehow stupidly put diesel into the gas tank, which I had not) and couldn’t figure it out right off.  It seemed like perhaps the ignition system was acting up, but I kept going back to the fuel system.  Eventually, we found a place that would take us ASAP and got a tow, and were towed to a little place within three blocks of four hotels.

As it turned out, the fuel pump failed.  Not sure why, but it did.  Ended up getting it replaced.  Wouldn’t get the parts until next morning, so we hiked with our bags to a hotel.  On the way out to hike to a place to eat, we spotted the street sign on the street the Hotel was located.

We spent two weeks and a few extra days bopping around from Ft. Meyers, to Tampa, to Largo and back over to St. Augustine.

Yeah, we’re cursed to remain in “Southport” forever, methinks.  Every time we’ve left Southport, something has happened to bring us back there.  Everyone says we’re fated to remain in Southport, NC.

Even our car seemed to find a home named Southport…. :rollseyes

We visited our friend, Ray (and his son, Dakota, as Ray’s wife, Amanda was out of town for work), the cats and peacocks down in the Ft. Meyer area, as he had a steel ketch he inherited.  I was considering buying it, but it wasn’t exactly what we expected, and I couldn’t see an easy way to move it. The engine likely had not been run in about 10 years.  Probably not a good engine at this point.  The rigging was pretty loose, a lower spreader having been rotted out and fallen off, leaving the majority of the standing rigging wiggly.  So, that was a “no”.  We did get to see Lake Okeechobee, rode on Ray’s boat, and found some cool Mexican food there.

We rode on Ray’s boat to see the sailboat, down the ICW towards Okeechobee.

We visited about half dozen breweries, ate out a bunch, JoAnne and the boys cooked at the AirBnB in which we stayed.

We had never stayed in a place like that.  Nor a place like this one in particular.  I’ve honestly never seen a place like the “Casa Loco”.

There is nothing better, sometimes than a picture, which it is said is worth a thousands words.  So, without further ado, here’s a few thousand words.

I’ll just leave those there.  The last one is the kitchen.  Those are Jello/cake molds, on the ceiling.  The second to last is the bathroom door…..

The bedrooms were covered in freaky “masks”, African, Spanish, Mexican, Demons… you name it.  I can’t imagine small kids sleeping in this house without having severe mental issues afterward. haha

We four, Nick, Levi, JoAnne and I, spent time on the beach, visiting places, friends and having a good time.

After “Casa Crazy” we went to stay with JoAnne’s brother, Paul and his wife, Cathy and met the new poodle pup named “Buddy” who is a biter. He nipped Paul, JoAnne, Cathy and me, drawing blood from all of us.  He’s a good dog, but he’s got to learn not to bite.

From Largo/Tampa we headed over to St. Augustine to visit with our friends from South Harbor Village Marina in North Carolina aboard “Enamoored”, Herb and Jan.  They left at the end of February, about the time we left, to go down to St. Augustine, and they found a nice slip there in the town.  We couple reasonably have walked from their boat to most places, if Jan and JoAnne both were up to the walking.  Instead we drove a lot to breweries and out to eat.

We visited Hurricane Patty’s, at River’s Edge Marina, and could see our friend’s (Stephen and Judy) old slip from where we sat to eat (they are up north somewhere now).  We had visited St. A’s before a couple of years back and stopped at River’s Edge to check the place out.

We stayed two nights with Jan and Herb and headed out early in the morning headed home for Adventure.  We discussed stopping at a hotel one more night (for a big bed, showers, hot tub, pool, and just to decompress) but that never happened.  I guess I owe JoAnne a night in a nice place somewhere with a big bed, showers, hot tub pool, or just decompressing. Haha!

Finally, we arrived back at our marina, tired and relatively warm.  That changed quickly because, well, apparently winter is nuts and it keeps coming back to bug us.

All in all, our adventures don’t have to be aboard “Adventure”.  We have just as much fun in the car as the boat, and it seems like it’s easier to do some times.  But, I don’t think we’re giving up the boat any time soon.


The last thing for this entry is a purely mercenary event for me, so bear with me one more moment.

Back in November, I published my first SF novel, the first is a series called “Estrellita Chronicles”, first book is called “Aftermath’s Children” and was a very, very long time coming.  I started writing that book in 1985 or ’86.  It was a collective work based on a role playing game that I ran as Game Master with friends back in the early to mid 1980s.

The book has been sitting around in mostly completely form now for many years, but I published it on Kindle.

This week, I completed the set up for paperback books, and yesterday (Friday, 9 March 2018) I posted the last files, cover changes and information for the book.  Today I finally got the price set properly.

So if you like Science Fiction and are interested you can get the book either as a digital version for Kindle (or kindle app, or Amazon Cloud reader) or paperback.  I’ll post the links here.  Normally, I don’t advertise anything with the blog at all or ask for anything, but I’d sincerely appreciate it, if anyone reads the book they write a short review on Amazon.  Here are the links, top one is for the paperback, the second for the digital version for Kindle.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1973270501/
https://www.amazon.com/Aftermaths-Children-Estrellita-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B077BFKQ5W

This is my Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rick-Donaldson/e/B00Q514LD0

This is my author blog:

https://rddonaldson.wordpress.com

Please visit those and leave comments, and PLEASE do a review if you read the book, it helps to bring the book into focus for those visiting Amazon (and helps get me sales, and by the way, I make a couple of bucks off each book, not as much as you think an author makes!)

Failure, Disappointment and Frustration…. or was it?

We were set to pull out of the marina as the tide was falling.  I had 15 minutes to play with before the water would be too thin for us.  We waited for one of the crew’s family to come and say good bye and to meet us.  We had cut it pretty close, but we were getting out.

The morning was chilly, but nice.  The wind was clocking around though in the afternoon and I wanted the last of the north winds to take us down the coast as rapidly as possible under sail.  I knew if we waited until the afternoon we would be tacking a LOT to go to the Southwest.

At 0905 I put the engine in reverse and some friends tossed the lines to Nick, our new crew member.  He put the lines away and I began backing out and hit a bump.  Mud, and the water was thinning.

“Crap,” I thought.  Then there was a horn behind me where there had not been a boat a few moments before, and a shout from one of the marina guys, Norm, asking me to pull back in the slip.  I yelled back, “Trying to get out before I can’t!”

He said, “Pull in, they are going for a pumpout!”

Katy B, a large power vessel wasn’t stopping, so I pulled back in.  In a parking lot, the guy going behind you has the right of way.  So, I treated it like a parking lot and pulled forward, knowing full well we weren’t getting out now.

They cleared us, and I began backing and slammed into the mud.  Too shallow now.  Cut it too close.  Darn.

A quick check with the crew, JoAnne and Nick, told me we were going to try again.  But as tide was coming back in around 1300.  That didn’t set well with me because, honestly, I knew the winds were going to clock.  They really wanted to get going on our journey.  So, we ate some lunch, and waiting for Nick’s family to return once again this time to see us off the docks, and bring a friend who had come to visit them.

At 1315, we backed out on a rising tide.  I still hit the “bump” behind our slip and after a moment of hesitation, I brought the bow around and we motored smartly out of the marina with people waving to us, yelling “Fair Winds” and “Good Luck!”

The ICW was quiet, the winds were beginning to drop, but I hoisted the main as we got a little ways out of the marina to use what there was, about 7-9 knots to help propel us down the water way, along with the engine chugging along.  Engine was just fine.  No overheating issues now.

A couple of miles later we rounded a bend and headed into the Western Bar Cut.  I’ve done it a few times now in both my boat and Jay’s “Knot Working” so have learned it better.

Before we go on…. let me tell you another short story.

One week before, on a Friday (bad luck they say) we departed and wound up with overheated engine, rainy morning, crappy weather, and made it to the lighthouse when the engine overheated badly.  I called for a tow, from SeaTow who brought us home to our slip.

So, we’re not really unfamiliar with bad luck.

Back to the story.  This is the third or fourth attempt to get out of here and head south.  Each time, something odd has happened.

On this day, things were going great.  We were in the channel headed out, but now, by the time we hit the Western Bar and were under main sail and engine, the winds were turning against us.  We needed to go directly Southwest.

We sailed on, passing our friends Jay and Kevin who went out earlier in the morning when we pulled back into the slip.  They waved, took pictures and wished us luck.  We kept going.  After 30 minutes we were almost to the light house, to the place we’d had to turn around last time.  Winds were now fully in our faces on the bow.

I can’t change the winds, so I did what any sailor would do, I tacked and adjusted the sails and we took off at almost five knots.  I pulled out all sail, and managed almost 6 knots.  Good, faster than I though.  Course looked good, but we would be going right towards the shipping channel entrance, so I worked out a tack in the other direction and tried to gain as much SW direction as I could.  Not going well.

When we got to the buoy out there, we tacked back and headed toward shore. At the end of the tack we’d gained roughly 1/2 nautical mile.  Winds were picking up too.  Tacking back in another 30 minutes gained us another half mile.  On the third tack I realized while we were sailing well, it was not going to get us very far.   I started considering going back in.  Or going down the ICW.

Neither one sounded appealing.  And everyone voted to go on.  I restarted the engine and aimed south, figuring our computer applications told us winds would finish clocking back out of the north soon (by about 1600).  Motor sailing against the wind is not really my favorite thing to do, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it.  Except today.

We were making 2 knots most of the time.  So I started “tacking off the wind” and trying to use the sail, doing shorter tacks so we didn’t head into shipping lanes or too close to shore.  We watched a gorgeous sunset and the Southwest wind had a long fetch before us.  After another hour, we were pounding into and out of waves, as they built first to 3, then 4 feet.

JoAnne began to get ill.  I’d sent her down to rest (she’d taken medication that was making her sleepy, so she was laying down).  Nick had gone down to sleep for a couple of hours so he could join me in the cockpit at 2100 or so that night.

I put the boat on autopilot, looked around and seeing nothing went below to double check on the engine.  Oil smoke was burning off the engine and filling the cabin.

At that point I decided it was time to turn around.  So about 2000 hours local time I awakened them and told them my decision.  I suspect they were both disappointed, but neither let on.  I brought the boat back around and Nick joined me in the cockpit to help me watch for traffic.

We slogged against currents coming out, and falling tides (again), into a bright, moon-lit night, looking for markers.  At the last moment I decided against attempting the Western Bar in the dark and headed for the secondary shipping channel, giving me plenty of water, but adding 3-4 miles on our trip in against the currents.

I contacted Jay and he and Kevin would meet us at the transient dock (after they determined there was a slot open).  We arrived about 2340 and tied off on the T-dock for the night, hoping to move in the morning.  Nick decided to go home, called his parents who picked him us, I connected electricity and we still had SW winds.  They never switched to come from the North.

The temperature was beginning to drop, but wasn’t uncomfortable yet.  About 0145 Sunday morning something awakened me.  It was the wind.  It had finally clocked around out of the north and was blowing hard.

It was the wind I was hoping would be there about 1400 the day before to propel us south.  I’d have taken us in at Little River or on to Charleston, SC.  Alas, that didn’t happen.

The next day early on, one of the other boats was coming back in under tow, the marina was a bit mad at me for taking up the only slot, but I couldn’t get in at low tide (and I was NOT going to get up at 0500 to try to bring the boat in after what I’d just been through, exhausted, bringing the boat back in the ICW in the dark).

Fortunately, we came up with a solution and put him on the inside against the bulkhead.  Apparently, they didn’t want to try getting him into his slip.  Though, a week before, SeaTow put me in MY slip….

So… there are some lessons here.  But, I’m not going into them all right now.  Suffice it to say, I’ll make my own decisions from now on about moving the boat, no one tells me.  We go when *I* know it is ready.  Not before, not after.  I’ll wait for a good weather window, not an “OK” weather window.  I won’t start off again without having the right tides in the right places… and so many other seamanship things I already KNOW I should do, and discounted some of them.

Never again.

Today, it’s 18 degrees here.  We’d have been near Charleston, SC, with no heat (very little, propane heater, wood stove are insufficient at sea).  We have electric heating on the boat right now, but requires AC power.  Only have that running generator or shore power.

After all was said and done, I made the correct decision to come back in because had I not, three of us would have been exhausted, tired and freezing, and perhaps a danger to ourselves and others.

Apparently, some delays are simply meant to be.