Dec 22rd West Palm Beach – the cruisers are all bustling about because Herb “the weather guru” has given a green light for crossing to the islands. We have already done our last minute stuff except I forgot to phone our moms. Oh well, too late now. We haul anchor and move from North Palm Beach anchorage to re-anchor near Peanut Island for a closer exit to the sea.
Murray rigs the jack lines. These are flat lines of webbing running from the stern to the bow. To these, we clip our harnesses if we need to go forward on deck while in the deep water. Then, we hoist the dinghy and engine aboard and secure them in place. The engine is firmly attached to the stern railing and the dinghy is strapped on the foredeck. Meanwhile, I am baking muffins and hard boiling eggs for hand food during the passage. We retire early that night.
Dec 23rd – Departure from West Palm is timed in order to arrive in Lucaya in the daylight. Other vessels around us with different plans head out the inlet. Finally it is 4 pm and we haul our anchor. There are 5 boats in our flotilla – Step Three, Ariella and Southern Cross all from Oakville and Veruna 1 from Montreal. Veruna and Southern Cross were both with us when we made an earlier crossing into extremely bad weather. Everyone has their fingers crossed for this one.
It is only a distance of 78 miles as the crow flies but the Gulf Stream ( current can be 4 knots at times )forces you further north than you want. So, we motorsail southeast and keep on going. Eventually the lights from shore disappear and all that is visible on this moonless night, is the lights of the sailboats around us and the far-off ships. At least, I hope they are far-off. The radar keeps us informed of the ship’s positions and relative course.
The wind is stronger than forecast but we gallop along with a full main, under power. Eventually the lights of Freeport come into view just as we are hit with a rain squall. Murray dons his survival suit which keeps him warm as well as dry. I duck below just before it pours and do the same. This squall has quite a bit of wind in it as well, but Murray releases the main sheet and Windswept IV just digs in and flies. Some of the flotilla have missed the rain and others got hit by the wind gusts. We slow down as we approach Lucaya as the rain is making it difficult to see the entrance. But, by 8 AM we are secured in a slip and start the paper work to check in with Customs.
That afternoon, I start to experience some abdominal pain. By late night, I am in agony. I wake Murray about midnight and one of the dock staff takes us to the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport. After blood work, ultra sound and X ray, the doctor is not sure exactly what the problem is and sends me home with a prescription at 6 AM. But, it is Christmas Day and Murray cannot find anything open to fill the ‘script. Eventually, before dinner he convinces the hospital to issue more meds. By this time, my pain has increased and I am feverish and vomitting. Back we go to Emerg, this time by ambulance. It is finally decided that my Gall Bladder is the culprit and I am admitted. Neither of us has had any sleep for the last three days now.
The doctors put me on iv antibiotics and injectable pain meds. They keep me for 3 days, eventually allowing clear fluids and then solid food ( but NO FAT ). On the 29th, I am discharged still on antibiotics.
Being back aboard was wonderful. My own bed was much more comfortable and Murray had moved the boat to an quiet anchorage. Now, rest and recuperate is the plan. Can we continue our cruise? Perhaps. Surgery won’t happen for a few months in Canada and, if I stick to a no fat diet, I should remain pain-free.
Tomorrow, Tues Jan 6th, we hope to sail south to the Berry Islands for several days. Then on to Royal Island. Spanish Wells is close by and we can get the fresh things necessary for my new life-stye there.
The medical staff here were marvelous and took very good care of me. They do not want us to venture outside of the reach of immediate medical care. But, we have decided to continue our cruise in a modified fashion while we obtain more info from medical people up north.
Murray & Heather aboard Windswept IV