Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Update on George

George and I have both had a lot of ups and downs (more downs than ups) through this medical crisis. Last night and this morning he seemed to be getting worse instead of better and I was really worried about him. Although this morning’s x-ray still shows a blockage there have been a few small signs of progress. I respect the conservative, non-surgical approach to clearing the obstruction but it is so hard to wait. Especially since he may end up needing surgery anyway. The surgeon just placed the order for his nasogastric suction tube to be clamped for 12 hours. If George tolerates it he can start to eat and drink. If he feels pain or nausea during that time, then he will need surgery. He has been doing laps around the floor trying the help the process along. Since he hasn’t had anything to eat for five days I wonder how he has the energy. 
Our friend, Ray, and his friend, Scott, are going to sail Breeze On the 90 plus miles to Ft Pierce. Ray and his wife, Dawn, recently visited us in the Bahamas. We are so grateful for their help. We had planned to use Ft Pierce as a home base while we visited my family. If the boat were to remain here in Ft Lauderdale our lives would be much more complicated once George is finally discharged. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Medical Emergency While Cruising

George was admitted to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale two days ago. His diagnosis is small bowel obstruction. We have no idea how he ended up with an obstruction.  He doesn’t seem to have the right risk factors for one, but here he is. The treatment has involved inserting a nasogastric tube for drainage. That is supposed to relieve pressure and allow for the obstruction to clear on its own. A surgeon told us yesterday that 80% of these cases do clear and do not require surgery, 20% do not clear and do require surgery. George’s case is right on the edge. There have been some good signs, but there is still too much drainage to pull the tube and allow him to eat. They are going to give it more time to clear. 
The treatment has been torturous for him. He has always had a strong gag reflex and the tube really triggers that. He had a test yesterday, a small bowel series, that made him want to die. He had open heart surgery 19 years ago to correct a hole in his heart. He says this has been much worse. 
Meanwhile, I am in charge of the boat. I have always said that I would be done with cruising if anything ever happened to George. This episode has really confirmed that. George and I operate as a team when we are on the boat, a pretty good one if I do say so. Since he has been sick the responsibility has been overwhelming for me. As much as I love the Bahamas it has made me question the wisdom of sailing that far from home again. I completely understand why people give up cruising when the health issues start piling up. I had hoped we would have more time, but I am grateful for the time we have had. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bimini Sands Marina

We had a fast and bumpy sail from Nassau to Bimini. The winds were in the low 20’s and we moved along at 8 kn much of the time. The trip was 130 nm and it took just 20 hours. We left Palm Cay Marina at noon and pulled into Bimini Sands Marina at 8 am. There was another cruiser on the dock to help with our lines. When he and George made their introductions we learned that he was Bob from Her Diamond. We had heard a lot about Her Diamond through the Trekker’s Travels blog. Her Diamond has been buddy boating with Trekker for the past 6 months, all the way from upstate New York. What a small world!  Her Diamond recently turned around to start heading back to the US while Trekker continued on in the Exumas. We crossed paths with Karen and Hugh on Trekker (their Hanse 415) at Big Majors Spot.  We follow their blog and they follow ours so Bob and Sheila had heard all about us. They instantly recognized our boat and knew who we were when we pulled in 2 slips down. 
After George finished tying up he cooked bacon and eggs with toast for breakfast. Then, after a brief nap, he said he had an intense pain in his abdomen, right around his belly button. We both thought it would pass but it didn’t. He also experienced nausea and vomiting and couldn’t keep anything down. He felt just awful, so bad that he didn’t think he could get off of the boat to take the ferry to north Bimini and visit the clinic. A few hours later he finally agreed to give it a try. I called the clinic to make sure they were open but they told me they were closing (2 hours early-it’s island time). Sheila and Bob invited us to join them and another couple for dinner at the marina restaurant. George encouraged me to go so I did and had a fun time. George did not feel any better the next day. I went to the infinity pool for a few hours while George slept. We had wanted to take the ferry to North Bimini and walk around but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving George for very long. In the afternoon I walked to the office and explained our situation and asked it they had any suggestions. Two lovely ladies contacted a doctor for me let me use their phone to talk to the doctor. The doctor recommended Dramamine for the nausea and 1/2 cup of Gatorade every 20 minutes.  He should not eat solid foods and should drink only clear liquids.  The doctor told me that even if we waited until the clinic reopened on Monday it wouldn’t have the equipment to do any tests. 
I bought some Gatorade at the ship store and gave that and the Dramamine to George. We decided that if he felt significantly better we would leave Bimini as planned and sail to Ft. Pierce. If he felt moderately better we would leave early morning and buddy boat to Ft. Lauderdale with Sheila and Bob on Her Diamond. If he didn’t feel better at all we would either stay and wait it out or look into flights to Nassau or Ft. Lauderdale. 
George did not feel any better this morning. He still had the abdominal pain and nausea and was up most of the night. We made the decision to fly to Ft. Lauderdale. Then, after considering the logistics of getting to the airport, getting on the plane and then getting to a hospital from the airport it seemed just as easy to take our own boat. So at 6:30, shortly after Her Diamond left, we pulled out of the slip. The agreement was that George would untie the lines and I would drive the boat until we docked in Ft. Lauderdale, where he would he tie the lines again. The rest of the day he would rest. Although we had wind, it was directly behind us so we couldn’t sail.  The seas weren’t too bad but did make for a rolly ride. Her Diamond was ahead of us and checked in on us throughout the day. They are so kind and thoughtful. 
We are now in the ER of Broward Health Medical Center. George is on a bed in the hallway (we are not complaining) going through some tests and is on an IV for fluids, pain and nausea medication. It will probably be a few hours before the results come back. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Getting Ready to Move On

We are preparing to leave Palm Cay Marina around mid-day today, heading to Bimini. We plan to stay in Bimini two nights and then cross the Gulf Stream to Florida. Since it is still fairly windy we may have another relatively fast sail. We don’t want to leave too early because we want to arrive in Bimini after the marina opens tomorrow morning. The trip is 130 miles and should take us anywhere from 20 to 26 hours, depending on our speed. This is the first time we will be sailing overnight since we arrived in the Bahamas. We both used the marina WiFi to download podcasts to listen to on our night watches. We have some frozen dinners ready to pop in the oven for dinner while we are under way. 
After Dawn and Ray left on Tuesday we did a few loads of laundry. It was a very good thing we started early. The laundry has just 2 washers for guests and the 2 dryers are shared with the staff washing linens from the pool and condos. By the time we finished there was a line waiting to do laundry. In the afternoon we borrowed the marina courtesy car and went out for groceries. Yesterday was spent cleaning the boat and rearranging the garage. 
We have been planning how to get out of the slip with a brisk cross wind blowing down the fairway. George will use a spring line to help us turn into the wind. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Pipe Cay/Shroud Cay/Palm Cay Marina

We left Big Majors Friday for a short, very pleasant sail to the anchorage at the abandoned DECCA Station on Pipe Cay. We don’t know what DECCA stands for but it apparently served as a navigation system post World War II, prior to the advent of LORAN. The abandoned transmitter towers are still there and resemble large channel markers. 
While we explored the nearby beach we met Franciose from the only other boat in the anchorage. He told us that the snorkeling off of a point at the northern end of the anchorage was good. We were able to pull the dinghy into a small shallow cove nearby and put on our snorkel gear while standing in the shallow water. The snorkeling was fantastic, with numerous fish of many colors and varieties. Several were fish we had never seen before.  Franciose had also invited us to join him and his partner onshore at sunset for a bonfire. However, by the time we returned from snorkeling, showered, and ate dinner we ran out of time. 
The next day we enjoyed another great sail further up the Exuma chain to Shroud Cay. There we planned to meet Tony, who had purchased Dawn and Ray’s boat, Azzurra, four years ago. It just so happened that Tony and his fiancĂ©, Sharon, had planned at brief trip to the Bahamas at the same time of Dawn and Ray’s visit with us. Azzurra looked so pretty as we approached her sitting in the anchorage. After we dropped anchor Dawn and Ray took the dinghy to Azzurra to visit and tour their former boat.  Early the next morning Tony & Sharon came over for coffee and muffins before whisking Dawn and Ray off in Tony’s fast center console dinghy for a ride through a mangrove creek. After they reached the other side of the island they walked along the beach and climbed up to Camp Lookout. It is said that US federal agents used this spot to spy on drug runners at Normans Cay. In any case, the view is beautiful.  George and I took the dinghy ride and hike last year so while they were gone we ran the water maker. The timing was perfect, we had just finished when they returned. Tony later hailed us on the radio to tell us about a fresh water well a short hike from the nearby beach. Buckets and ropes are provided so that you can use the water to rinse off. We spent some time swimming at the small, gorgeous beach and watching a small school of fish following us around. George and Ray took the dinghy to search for potential snorkeling sites but did not find any that would allow us to swim from a shallow beach. 
This morning we raised the anchor early and sailed over to Palm Cay Marina on New Providence Island just south of Nassau. The wind had picked up over night and we had quite a brisk sail over lumpy water. Our average speed was 7 knots. It was quite a challenge to get into the slip with an 18 knot cross wind but we managed without going sideways or banging up the boat. Tonight is Dawn and Ray’s last night with us. We will play a few more games of Mexican Train and eat at the marina restaurant to celebrate a great week. 

Dawn and Ray

Azzurra at anchor

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Visit from Dawn and Ray

Dawn and Ray, our friends from Cambridge, MD, flew in to Black Point on Valentine’s Day. It is a very good thing they are both pilots who are comfortable on small planes. It was a very small, full (and old) plane.  After they landed safely we started the 15 minute walk into town, turning down two offers for rides. People in the Bahamas are so nice.  We stopped at DeShamon’s for a very nice Valentine’s Day surf and turf dinner. 
Yesterday morning we raised the anchor and sailed to Big Majors where we met Hugh and Karen on Trekker and Ruth Ann and Fred on Shooting Star. We first “met” Hugh and Karen through our blogs. They read our blog and we read theirs. They also have a Hanse 415 and we used their idea for an arch to hold the solar panels and dinghy. Ruth Ann and Fred also live in Cambridge. Although we were all in the Bahamas this winter we haven’t crossed paths until yesterday. It was great to meet and catch up. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

And More Photos

Little Bay anchorage all to ourselves

Sargent Major fish

More photos

I write the blog on my iPad. The app I use can handle just two photos at a time. I have tried writing it directly through Blogger but I can’t seem to access my photos at all that way. So, here is a post to add a few photos that I didn’t post before. 
Pam snorkeling at Sea Aquarium

A rainbow so close we could almost touch it. Big Majors Spot. 

Awnings 2.0

After Pam and Brad left on Saturday we spent some time reattaching bungees to the reworked salon hatch awning. I had already sewed together the two awning pieces that had been attached either side of the boom in version one.  I had also removed the stainless steel rings and attached new patches and webbing. We put the awning under the boom and attached it to the boom vang. So far, so good. Saturday evening we went to a happy hour at Pirates’ Beach (aka Cruisers’ Beach). As always, it was fun to chat with old and new friends. 
On Sunday I removed the stainless steel rings from the v-berth awning. We replaced them with dyneema line rings. They will be much quieter in a strong wind. Early Monday morning we had another squall and both awnings seemed to keep the rain out. Hooray!
After buying fuel at Staniel Cay Yacht Club Monday morning we left Big Majors and had a jaunty sail down to Black Point. The anchorage and laundromat were quite crowded, it seems as if a lot of other people have the same idea!  If the wind calms down enough this evening we may dinghy over to Scorpio’s for happy hour. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

End of a Great Week

We said goodbye to Pam and Brad this morning after a great week of sun, snorkeling, sailing, reading, beaches and games of Mexican Train. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and already miss them. The wind across the Staniel Cay harbour created quite a bit of chop leading to very wet dinghy rides. Because we didn’t want to send them off drenched in salt water, we made a plan to move Breeze On closer to town just long enough for them to get ashore. Plan A was to tie up the the Staniel Cay Yacht Club fuel dock. Plan B (in case someone was already at the dock) was to anchor in a tight anchorage near a beach in town. There was indeed already a boat at the fuel dock so we dropped anchor near the beach. It was a short and, thankfully, dry dinghy ride to shore where Pam and Brad had a 15 minute walk to the airport. The tide was going out and the depths are shallow in spots so we said our goodbyes and did not accompany them to the airport. We returned Breeze On to the same spot we had left at Big Majors. 
Bright and early yesterday morning we dinghied over to Thunderball Grotto for some snorkeling. We had researched the tides and thought we were hitting it at low tide. It seems we might have missed it, though. There was already a strong incoming current. The fish outside the grotto were pretty and numerous. We entered the grotto and where there were still a lot of fish but they were harder to see. Brad was taking pictures with the new camera. I suggested we leave the grotto through a different entrance. Pam and I swam out against the current and turned around to look for Brad. He had been taking pictures under water when one of his flippers came off. He swam under water to retrieve it and when he surfaced the current had pushed him toward to rock wall where he hit his head hard on a low rock. Pam and I saw him as he raised his arms to push himself away. By the time we returned to the dinghy (where George was waiting) we saw that Brad was bleeding.  Once Pam cleaned up the scrapes they didn’t look so bad. We were all grateful his injuries weren’t any worse. Pam and Brad took one last trip to the beach in the afternoon and Pam had the courage to take one last salt water bath (no sharks this time!)

Thunderball Grotto

Can you find the ray?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay

Yesterday we went back to the Sea Aquarium for more snorkeling. Much to my surprise it was even better than the day before!  There were so many fish of so many varieties. I saw some of my favorite, Queen Angelfish, and also some relatively small needle-nose fish that had snouts that seemed as thin as actual needles. 
After returning to Breeze On, Pam and Brad jumped in to take a salt water bath. Just after they got out of the water, and before they had a chance to rinse off, they spotted a 6 foot shark swimming right by the swim platform!  Yikes!  It looked like a nurse shark, but even so...  I am so glad it waited until after they got out of the water. A large ray swam by shortly after the shark. George opted to take a very quick salt water bath but I showered inside. 
This morning we sailed down to Staniel Cay. After anchoring at Big Majors we took a very wet dinghy ride over to Staniel Cay Yacht Club where Pam and Brad treated us to lunch. From there we walked to the airport just to see where it is and and time how long it takes to walk there (15 minutes).  On the way back to the dinghy we stopped at both the Pink Store and the Blue Store to shop for fresh food. The shelves were bare so we will try again later. Since the dinghy ride to Staniel was so wet and we are expecting more wind on the day of their departure we are making plans to get them ashore without getting wet. Plan A is to use the fuel dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. 

Sailing, Snorkeling and Sitting on the Beach

Last year the weather didn’t cooperate when Pam and Brad visited us in the Bahamas. It was very windy, often cloudy and cool (by Bahamas standards). They made the best of their week here and we all had a great time. This year the weather has been much more cooperative. In fact, it has been one of the best weather weeks of the winter. Pam and Brad have been taking full advantage of it. 
Monday morning we moved from Black Point to Little Bay. Pam and Brad loved the beautiful, secluded beaches and spent a few hours relaxing and reading on the beach. We were lucky to have the anchorage all to ourselves. After lunch we all dinghied over to the snorkeling spot by the Sandcastle house. We saw lots of fish including several of the Queen Angelfish. 
Yesterday morning we raised the anchor and sailed north to Cambridge Cay. It was an ideal day for sailing with just the right amount of wind. Breeze On was one of many boats sailing on the banks. After picking up the last available mooring ball and eating lunch we dinghied over to the Sea Aquarium for more snorkeling. It is a very popular snorkeling spot, for good reason. There are so many fish!  Brad used our new Go-Pro knock-off camera to take a picture of the Sargent Major fish swarming around me (looking for food, I suspect). It is a little freaky to feel trapped by so many fish. Pam and Brad loved the snorkeling and hope to go back to the Sea Aquarium again. In the meantime, they are getting in some more beach and hiking time while George and I run the water maker and defrost the refrigerator. 
By the way, the dinghy has been running just fine since it was trapped and submerged under the dock. We are SO grateful!

Pam and Brad both love to read. 

A swarm of Sargent Majors

Monday, February 5, 2018

Where’s the Dinghy??

It has been an eventful few days. Our daughter, Pam and her boyfriend, Brad, flew into Black Point in a small, and I mean small, airplane. The plane left from Nassau and had room for just 15 passengers. It actually had 5 passengers, a pilot and a co-pilot.  There was no partition between the pilots and the passengers. Fortunately the flight was very calm and the landing was smooth. George and I walked 15 minutes from the dock to meet them at the airport. We stopped at Scorpio’s for dinner before taking the dinghy back to Breeze On. Yesterday George took Pam and Brad to the dock and they walked a few minutes to the beach facing Black Point harbour. It was a beautiful day for the beach and they had it to themselves for most of the time. After they returned we had a light snack before heading to Loraine’s Cafe for a Super Bowl party in the late afternoon. Loraine’s was crowded and noisy but we were able to find a table with views of 2 large screen TV’s. The crowd seemed evenly divided between Patriots’ fans, Eagles’ fans and people who didn’t care. Our team, the Patriots, unfortunately lost and we headed back to the dinghy dock just before the end of the game. 
When we arrived at the dock there was a small group of people struggling to free their dinghy from under the dock. George, in the meantime, couldn’t find our dinghy. The other people said there was another dinghy stuck under the dock and sure enough, it was ours. Not only was it stuck under the dock but it was submerged under water!  The bow of the dinghy was about a foot under water, stuck under a section of the dock.  The gas can was floating, the outboard seemed to be out of the water. Water filled the entire dinghy right up to the gunwales. We had arrived at the dock during low tide and by the time we returned it was high tide. What little wind we had was blowing the dinghy away from the dock so George had not put out a stern anchor to keep the dinghy away from the dock. He had left a long painter to allow room for other dinghies to tie up to the dock. We aren’t sure what happened but our best guess is that dinghies that arrived after we did pushed our dinghy under the dock and it got stuck as the water rose. George and I held up the stern of the dinghy to keep water from flowing in while Brad used the bailer. Soon other cruisers started arriving at the dock and chipped in to help us. Someone gave their bailer to George while someone else helped me to hold up the transom. Bob, from Carrie Mae, used his bailer and another person used a hand pump in the bow. When I first saw our poor submerged dinghy I felt hopeless but it was bailed out faster than I could have imagined. We were all to traumatized to take a picture at the time. The other cruisers were so generous and helpful.   The only exception was one intoxicated cruiser (he had been loud and obnoxious in Lorraine’s) who walked by and yelled “why didn’t you use a stern anchor to keep that from happening?”  I answered that we didn’t think we would need one. He repeated the question again and I answered that if we had known this would happen we would certainly have used one. Then he said “just a suggestion from a dumbass, dumbass!” before calling us stupid newbies.  I thanked him for his help. I guess there is one in every crowd. I don’t know who he is and I hope we don’t encounter him again. 
After the dinghy was bailed out we were both afraid that the motor wouldn’t start. But, after several attempts it started! Hallelujah!  And, knock on wood, it is still running today. 
We left Black Point this morning and motored 4 miles south to Little Bay, one of our favorite anchorages. We currently have it all to ourselves. Pam and Brad are on the gorgeous beach right now.  This afternoon we will all go snorkeling.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Long Island to Black Point

The wind finally subsided and we were able to leave Long Island early yesterday morning. We sailed a relaxing 60 miles and anchored as the sun was setting at Rocky Point on the “Sout’ Side” of Great Exuma Island. George pulled the water maker out and filled the water tank. He was finished by 8:15 but found that the starter cord wouldn’t retract. It took a long time to take the water maker apart to discover why. A small metal ring through which the cord passes had become dislodged and stuck in the mechanism. It looks as if a small piece of plastic in the hole where the ring sits had broken. George put the ring back where it belongs and crimped it. By the time everything was put back together and stowed it was after 10 pm. We had a restful night in the anchorage and once again got up early to continue on to Black Point. The winds were light and we had to motor sail all day. We arrived at Black Point in the early afternoon and headed right for (you guessed it) the laundromat!  George is getting his first haircut since October. I am up next.