Solo Sailing

While Murray was anchored in the canals in Lucaya, Grand Bahama, his sleep was disturbed one night. As we had heard of thefts of dinghy motors, Murray had rigged a personal alarm to the dinghy. If the dinghy was moved very much from its position lashed alongside Windswept IV, the alarm would sound. And it did. Someone had cut the dinghy painter and the bungee cord holding it alongside and was attempting to take the dinghy. It was still chained and locked but the thieves were scared away by the loud noise of the alarm.

That incident encouraged Murray to head south as soon as possible. When the weather was appropriate and in company with 2 other boats, Murray singlehanded to Nassau. That is a distance of approx 150 mi. They departed Lucaya at 3:30 pm and arrived in Nassau around 11:30 am.

He anchored near the Tropic Palm dock and prepared the boat for guests.

On Jan 26, Kuyler Hauch flew to Nassau and joined Murray. Kuyler will stay aboard until Feb 12th and just before I re-join him ( I hope ). They have sailed down into the Exumas and hope to reach Staniel Cay today ( Jan 28th ).

My surgery is scheduled for Feb 3rd and the doctor has said that I should be able to return to the boat after a week to 10 days. I haven’t booked the flight yet but will after the surgery.

So, the cruise will continue. I cannot wait to see that turquoise water and to walk the beautiful beaches. Soon.

Murray with Kuyler in the Exumas & Heather ashore in London, ON

Change in Plans

On Jan 5th, we prepared the boat for an early departure the next morning. Weather reports seemed favourable for the passage south to the Berry Islands and the anchorage at Bullocks Harbour.

A last visit was made to the local grocery to stock up on fresh veggies and fruit.

The outboard motor was lifted aboard and stowed on the stern rail. The dinghy was secured on the foredeck. All seemed in readiness.

My antibiotic treatment had finished that morning. A niggling ache had started in my abdomen again which I was trying to ignore. By early evening, I could not ignore the fact that I was running a fever.

Could I take some of the antibiotics I had aboard? Could we still cruise? Questions that needed answers. We turned on the ham radio to 14.300 and the Maritime Mobile Net at 8 pm. The net control called for “any medical or emergency traffic”. I called using Murray’s call sign VE3ZUA. A station in Kansas responded. He arranged a phone patch to a doctor. Soon Dave, a Canadian living in Kansas, responded. He said that he had worked in London, Ont for 14 years. He asked some questions about my recent history. Upon hearing of the acute cholecystis attack recently and the new symptoms, he advised that I need urgent IV antibiotics. I thanked him very much and we made preparations to leave the boat.

Friends helped Murray get the dinghy launched and the motor re-attached while I packed a bag. Into the dinghy and to the marina where another friend had a taxi waiting to take us to the hospital. I was re-admitted and put back on massive drug treatments.

During this episode, we decided that the cruise was out for me at this time. I needed to return to Canada as soon as possible and to have the surgery done. Then, maybe we could cruise for a while.

Friday, the 9th the doctors, after giving me solid food for the first time in 4 days, said I could go. If I flew out right away.

Flights were arranged and I flew into Toronto on Sat the 10th.

Murray has stayed with the boat and, depending on the date of surgery, may stay south or may sail to the US and drive north.

So, the cruising life teaches you to be very flexible. Always we say that our plans are made in jello, ready to be changed at a whim. This year, ours have really changed.

Will we get to cruise at all? That depends. Maybe just the ICW for a month or six weeks. Maybe a brief visit back to our favourite islands. Who knows?

Murray ( aboard Windswept IV) & Heather ( ashore in London, ON )

Across Once More

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