“My Little Fishy.”

Captains_courageous_tracy_and_bartholomewYes, a bummed ankle changed our sailing plans.  Instead of sailing another two-hundred plus miles to Puerto Penasco, Seamore Pacific will hang in San Carlos with her salty friends (Rosebud, Magellan, Island Time, Magic Carpet, Kookaburra, Otter, Adia, and Laila to name a few). Seeking more days of sailing or snuggling up in a breathtaking anchorage, we eventually gave in to keeping her in San Carlos and returning to the USA.  The second we made the decision, our spirits lifted and we knew we were on the right track.  Funny how that works.  Sometimes I spend way to much time and energy hammering out the future, instead of trusting the process and embracing the moment.  It took going cruising to undo some bad habits.  Not to knock having a career that is gratifying, but I fell into planning for the future to the extent I was trying to either look into the future or control it.  Take a day off?  Not if it wasn’t planned for.  Change up my routine?  Not unless a co-worker asked me to.  Take off to Missouri and visit family on a whim?  Better not, airfare is pricey and there would be time away from other obligations.  Looking to ‘seamore’ means that I have to be willing to let go of silly self-imposed expectations, be prepared rather than controlling, and have confidence in knowing that even bad days at sea give way to good days…and what I think is a bad day is actually a walk on the beach!

Besides coming to the bright decision of leaving our boat in San Carlos, the second best thing to come out of falling into a pothole, was watching several movies about men and women negotiating, living, and sometimes dying out on the sea; like Gloucester fisherman Manuel, of the 1937 movie Captain Courageous .  Wow.  How did I miss this classic?  The loving words, “my little fishy,” spoken by Manuel to young Harvey are the words of one who respects, identifies, and depends on the sea for more than just a living as a fisherman. I take Manuel’s words, “my little fishy” to symbolize the student that I am.  There is so much more that I want to see, learn, and experience.  But for now, it is time to head into shore.  Arizona’s shore.  Missouri’s shore.

Not quite ready to jump back into a landlubber’s life, Captain Chameleon and I are decompressing in Puerto Penasco, at Corona Del Mar.  Corona Del Mar is our little casa by the sea.  It gives our lungs the ocean air we think they require.  Moving from the Florida Keys, we had insidiously taken for granted living by the ocean; like breathing, we didn’t miss it until it wasn’t there.  San Diego waterfront priced out of our range, we opted for Mexico waterfront.  10 years later, we aren’t a bit sorry.  Like Seamore Pacific, buying Corona Del Mar required a mindset of planning, but not controlling; trusting the process; embracing the moment; and confident we could navigate through both good and bad elements.

Manuel’s encouraging words, “my little fishy” are for us souls that have gone to sea a bit to arrogant, controlling, whiney, and unsettled then came back home changed.  And, ready to learn about how to grow into a medium fishy.

What is next?

  • Arizona’s shore. Looking forward to seeing family and friends.
  • Visit an orthopedic specialist in Phoenix to ensure my chances of having a long future of running and sailing.
  • Driving to the Ozark Mountains in Missouri to visit family and retrieve Francis (my kitty).
  • Return to San Carlos to put Seamore Pacific ‘to bed’ before I return to work in March.
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Charley

Kitty by the Sea.

Kitty by the Sea

Osprey enjoying a 'fish taco'

Osprey enjoying a ‘fish taco’

Decompressing at Puerto Penasco

Decompressing by the Sea

'Broke' down at the Soggy Peso in San Carlos.

‘Broke’ down at the Soggy Peso in San Carlos.

Drinking from the fountain of youth

Drinking from the fountain of youth

Corona Del Mar

Corona Del Mar

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Barracuda

B Dock

“It’s a fracture.”

“It’s a sprain.”

“It’s a Barracuda!.”

Last week reminds me of watching the Underdog cartoon.  The show opens with a song that goes something like, “it’s a bird, it’s  plane, it’s Underdog!”   Excited and glued to our seats, my brothers and I waited for Underdog to sweep down and save Ms. Polly.  He always managed to save Ms. Polly, even when she brought about her own troubles.

A day or two after I started walking on the injured ankle (thinking it was only a sprain), I received an email from my doctor requesting that I come back in for another X-ray.  There was some uncertainty about the initial X-ray.  To make a long story short, the second X-ray reveals an incomplete fracture.  I’m back to crutches.  Serious about not messing up my future of running long distances, I’m not taking any chances.  I’m being a good patient and staying off my ankle.  Tied to the boat by an ace wrap splint is not how I had envisioned spending our final month aboard Seamore Pacific.

But, like Underdog, a fine group of super heroes from B-dock, have swooped down and saved Ms. Polly.  Realizing, I’m an amateur peg-leg pirate and unable to safely sail the boat onto Puerto Penasco, Captain Chameleon and I decided it best to berth Seamore Pacific in San Carlos.  San Carlos is a lovely place and if we can’t get the boat to Puerto Penasco, we can’t think of a better place to leave her.  Needing our vehicle to carry out Plan B San Carlos, Captain Chameleon left this morning on a bus for Phoenix.  After a bit of carousing and partying I’m sure he will eventually return for Ruby and I.   Joking of coarse….in all honesty he was torn between leaving peg-leg to fend for herself and getting our vehicle here.  He made the right choice, hopped on a bus, and is currently sitting at the border waiting for clearance with both Mexico and USA officials.  In the mean time, I’m perched on Seamore Pacific with new friends taking wonderful care of me.

Otter is taking Ruby for her walks; Kookamunga brought over a lunch and dinner; Rosebud said his VHF is on all of the time and to call if I need anything; Magic Carpet brought reading materials, exercise bands to keep my limbs strong,  and comfort food (delicious pastries); and Magellan came by for a well check (i.e make sure I hadn’t fallen down and in their words, “flailing on the floor like a Halibut.”).

This year we have learned that the cruising community takes care of one another.  This week, we learned just how special B-dock is.

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Crowded spaces

The Gift of Time

Pegleg take 3 best oneIt’s time to bring the broken ankle story to a close and find a better one; one in which there is  running along a water’s edge, rapid trimming of sails, combing a beach, or at the very least not sounding like a wood pecker hopping above and below deck.  Forgive me if I repeat or ramble a bit, but when one’s world shrinks to the settee of a 36 foot boat, locomotion is through scooting or hopping, and an impatient husband’s voice is stuck on repeat (“Sit down and get your foot up.”), then I’m apt to repeat, leave things out, embellish out of boredom, and ramble.

This is what went down last Friday. Exactly one week ago today, and one day after stepping into a hole and breaking my ankle, the glass of life remained more than 3/4 full.  Yes, I was annoyed and embarrassed with myself but compassionate marina dock neighbors, family and friends from afar via Facebook, email, and Magic Jack; and Captain Chameleon’s new found cooking skills,  were lifting my spirits out of the pot hole.

Stranded on a boat in 80 degree weather, chowing down on homemade carne-asada tacos and coctel de camaones, with both feet, not just the injured one, propped up high and mighty, I was in complete agreement with the famous quote, “Life is Good.”

At midnight an insidious change came about and poked a hole in my glass.  The toes on my left foot were like marshmallows on an open fire; fat, burning, and changing color.   What is to blame, the salt in my chow fest or the body’s normal inflammatory process post- injury?   Either way, something was happening to my foot.  At the same time, something was also happening to my brain.  Not as in brain injury but as in my level of anxiety.   An astute professional nurse when in the luxury and comforts of the USA but take me out of the USA and suddenly I am scared, unsure, and desperate.

No one to call, no real way of calling, no idea of who to call- the predicament certainly made my situation seem worse to me that it needed to.   Not being one to stew for long, but one that can imagine the worst in the blink of an eye, I decided to cut at the soft cast to allow for circulation and have Captain Chameleon sit next to me in the event a blood clot had formed and was traveling to my lungs at any given second.

Chop, chop, chop.

My toes began to look alive, the burning subsided, and without restrain they swelled even more.  Tattered and chopped up, the pink soft cast was now a casualty.  After thirty minutes of nodding off during his night watch for a pulmonary embolism, Captain Chameleon was thanked profusely, sent off to bed, and reassured that as a team we had skirted danger, yet again!

The following morning I awoke to the sun shining brilliantly, giving a thumbs up to God for another day, and to my neighbor Donna (see previous posts) who was confident that her doctor would make things better, even though it was a Saturday.  And he did.

Meeting us outside in the parking lot when we drove up in Donna’s truck,  Dr. Mike assisted us into the closed clinic.  He completed an examination, reviewed my X-rays , conferred with a radiologist, and then chopped off my leg.  Just kidding-embellishing out of boredom.

Respectful of the ER physician’s diagnosis of fracture, Dr. Mike disagreed and diagnosed my injury more in line with a grade 2 sprain.  Hallelujah.  Fracture or sprain the treatment is close to the same: R-I-C-E.

R-I-C-E

Rest:  Café-pressed coffee in the morning just before the San Carlos Cruiser net on VHF 74 and nothing beyond reading and movies the rest of the day.

ICE: Captain Chameleon ensures that Seamore Pacific’s 12 volt fridge cranks out enough ice for both medicinal and occasional margaritas.

Compression:   Lots of hugs from Captain Chameleon.

Elevation:  Dock parties and walking up to land with crutches, to see the marina cats are “ok” if the leg stays elevated.

So that’s the story.  Convalescing has been a gift of time.  Forced to prop my leg and remain still, I’ve had the gift of reflecting:

  • Our 10 day trip (and my metamorphism into a sailor) from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.
  • Uncomfortable nights at anchor after leaving Cabo San Lucas.
  • Glorious nights and days at anchor.
  • Steering through following seas that appeared larger than my house on land.
  • Living off the grid.
  • Differencing between winds that I will sing with or curse at.
  • Making meals at sea when the boat is pitching and rolling…eating crackers and canned tuna instead.
  • The whale that came alongside, winked, and spouted.
  • Holed up for a couple of days in San Marte cove because of foul weather and anxious to let family know we were ok.  Unable to contact family for 5 days.
  • Why internet is important to me.
  • Gratification in walking that is not found in driving.
  • Checking in each morning at 8 am to the VHF sailor’s net.  We announce our presence (essentially saying we are safe in port), listen for other boaters that need assist (ready to help those in need),  trade and swap coconuts, and measure up the wind/sea forecast with our sail plans.
  • To be continued….

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Pretty Kitty

Visit by a whale.

Visit by a whale.

 

An Ambulance Without an Anchor.

Bronze antique anchor light purchased at last week's marine swap meet.

Bronze antique anchor light found at last week’s swap meet. A gift from time.

It is January 2014 and living in a vacuum, I’m a patient-passenger in an ambulance under lights, making it’s way to a private hospital in Mexico?  My husband is in the front seat next to the driver and the paramedic is next to me texting.  (Texting the ER) “”Wait!  It’s an injured ankle, guys!”  Slow down time….

It’s 1993, a cardiac care intensive care nurse, I’m riding in the back of an ambulance going to Miami Mount Sinai, with a middle-aged male patient experiencing unrelieved angina.  We are trying to meet the odds and get this gentleman to a cardiac catheterization lab before time runs out.  An EMT, a paramedic, and myself from a little tourist island in the Florida Keys, are exceeding the speed limit, passing cars on the 18 mile stretch, and blowing through toll booths to do our job, and see to it that this man has a chance to see more beautiful days.  Our little hospital has done all that it can and now a cardiac catheterization suite at Mount Sinai awaits his arrival.  Despite doing what I’ve been trained to do and doing it well, it doesn’t seem to be enough.  I see fear in his eyes.  I hold his hand and ask our driver to please drive with a little less gusto and a little more smoothness.  If only I could command the wind to do the same.

Cordial, professional, and timely we arrive at the hospital in Guaymas.  I’m taken through a very small but crowded waiting room into a dimly lit room.  A nun (nurse) and gentleman in jeans (X ray technician) are waiting for me, an elderly gentleman sachets over and touches my knees, abrasions, and swollen ankle and then I’m whisked next door for an X-ray of my left ankle.  Just like that.  No name stickers, no waiting in a cold room, no blinding lights, no interpreter.

During the X-ray the technician asks my name, for which I give him my driver’s license.  This seems to make his day.  We smile, he apologizes for not knowing English and I apologize for not knowing Spanish.  The grapefruit size lesion on my ankle communicates for the both of us.

As the doctor is explaining to Captain Chameleon, through Google translate, that I have “fissure” of the bone, the doctor’s daughter from medical school arrives.  Bubbly, and eager to translate, she does a history and physical, explains I have a small fracture, will need to have a split cast, stay off my foot…and shows me her 9 day post-appendectomy scar.  A nurse in a foreign county, I so appreciated seeing her scar because it looks similar to the appendectomy incision I had in 1985.  My confidence in foreign medical care escalated.  Captain Chameleon’s head starts spinning, but it doesn’t take much for his head to spin.  He was reaching his limit.  It had been only 30 minutes since he had invited me to lunch at McDonalds, then I fell, and now without warning, he was looking at a fresh abdominal scar on a 20-something female.

Patched up by “Papa”, daughter, and the nun, I was wheeled out of the hospital and told not to walk for 2 weeks.  Captain Chameleon settled the bill for a mere $90 US dollars.  What timing: within an hour I broke my ankle, road in an ambulance, was X-rayed, received treatment, and paid the bill.    This could not have happened in the States.

No walking for two weeks, and a script for a non FDA approved drug for 7 days, were my instructions.  I didn’t fill the script, by the way.

“Hmmm, how do I get back to the boat, 10 miles away?”  Embark on another adventure: we hailed a tax; I held onto Captain Chameleon and the taxi driver and made it to the front seat of the taxi; we whizzed through traffic as I prayed that we didn’t have an accident causing a frontal head injury; we stopped at a building that looked out of business and purchased a pair of crutches; hailed another taxi to a municipal bus stop; was consoled by an elderly gentleman in Spanish; waited for a bus to San Carlos; crawled up the steps on my hands and knees because the steps were too steep to use the crutches; sat next to a very old lady who had more difficulty than I did getting around; watched her disembark the bus with a cane onto a remote rocky road; and “enjoying the adventure” we were dropped off a few hundred feet from the marina.  Not long after hobbling toward the marina, a dock friend driving by, noticed our new accessories of cast, crutches, and exhaustion and gave us a ride to the boat.

It wasn’t long before the word spread that the matey on Seamore Pacific is a klutz on land.  Fellow boaters came from far and wide to offer assistance, rides into town for groceries, and alcohol. Donna, on Magic Carpet, dropped by with an appointment card.  “I hope you don’t mind, but I made you an appointment to see my doctor on Monday at 2:30.”  Little did I know at the time, that I would need to see a doctor before Monday.

To be continued…

Bus ride

Take a seat

Taking the bus. It isn’t pretty but it gets us to Guaymas and back for $1.

Like an ankle, when a block is broken, the traveler doesn't move well.

Like an ankle, when a block is broken, the traveler doesn’t move well.

Taking a Break

taking it easy

“Enjoy your adventure,” she said, drawing our stoop visit to a close.

Berthed in San Carlos Marina, Donna’s boat (S/V Magic Carpet) and Seamore Pacific are within touching distance.  We are neighbors, much like neighbors in the Bronx.  I suspect when she is under the weather, is having Magic Carpet detailed, and her husband is cleaning up the anchor locker.  She knows when my laundry is dry, I’m putting on my shoes to go for a run, or my husband is topping off our water tank.Two women separated by a generation, yet joined by an affection for cruising in Mexico.

On this particular day Captain Chameleon and I needed to go to Telcel in Guaymas to resolve why our Banda Ancha, after $400 pesos of recharge, was not working.  Having used the bus system the week prior, we were “pros” and looking forward to expanding our knowledge of the city.  Donna wished us some neighborly cheering as we set off to catch a bus to Guaymas.

What about our adventure in Guaymas?  Well, it didn’t go so great.  And, it is pretty much Jimmy Buffet’s undoing.  After visiting Telcel, dealing with empathetic sales associates, taking really deep breaths, mustering up tons of patience, and forking over another $400 pesos, we left with internet (and a New Year’s resolution to become proficient in Spanish).  Celebrating our good fortune to have internet and seeing the ‘golden arches’ just ahead, Captain Chameleon invited me to a lunch date at McDonalds.  Never afraid to dive into street tacos, quesadillas, and frijoles-a cheeseburger, fries,  and a Coke was something this sailor was salivating for.

A cheeseburger, a Big Mac… luscious salty fries…an ice cold Coke from a McDonald’s straw…pickles!!!! Just as I was about to shout out to all of Mexico that, “Heck yes I’m having lunch at McDonalds!!!”   Oily, dirty asphalt and a jolt of nauseous pain shoved Jimmy Buffet and Ronald McDonald off the stage.  Distraction by a cheeseburger in paradise from the golden arches had diverted my attention from a hole the size of a cow (ok, the size of a cake pan) in my path.  A split second later and lying flat on the ground, “enjoy your adventure” and “lettuce and tomato, and Heinz 57” were catapulted into the clouds like balloons cut loose from a child’s arm.  Now all I could think of, as I whimpered beside the cake pan shaped hole: “Oh darn, I’ve broken my ankle.”

Intermission Break

nautical window

nautical window

nautical reflections

nautical reflections

“You have to get up.  You are in the road and are going to get hit by a car.”  What I couldn’t do for myself, Good Samaritans did.  They lifted me to a safe curb and called an ambulance.  The few minutes it took for an ambulance, an overzealous security guard (just completing First Aid 101) ran to the scene and using both hands, was intent on straightening the fracture.

“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”  A collective shout came from the Good Samaritans, Captain Chameleon, and myself.  I felt bad for the guy, but thankful I’d escaped having my foot manually separated from my leg.

Then, the city of Guaymas came to a standstill….a policeman arrived, examined the ‘suspect’ ankle, made a call on the radio, and stopped traffic for the ambulance, with more policemen and lights joining the escapade.  Really, all of this attention for an ankle injury?  Feeling half stupid and half special, I took Donna’s advice to enjoy the adventure.

The ambulance arrived, ankle was splinted, patient lifted to a gurney, and with lights and sirens, transported to a hospital to the tune of Cheeseburger in Paradise in the adventurer’s head

To be continued…

Cheeseburger in Paradise video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBsPZV14I-k

A Stone’s Throw from the Sea

The last day of 2013.  Do I look back on the year (i.e. reflect)?  Do I solemnly promise something for 2014 (i.e make plans)?  For whatever reason, neither idea made it past morning coffee.  Instead, a walk to the far end of the marina parking lot to search for immaterial treasures.  Sitting quietly on a rock ledge that extends out from a mound of concrete rubble and brush, I gathered these New Year’s Eve contemplations…a stone’s throw from the sea.

pink hush

pink hush

who is down there?

two minute snooze

hidden

hidden

savor the flavor

savor the flavor

coy

coy

survivor

survivor

pass the pickles, please

pass the pickles, please

walk not fly

walk not fly

blue buy you

blue by me

broken and blue

polished to a pretty blue

Adrift

adrift

Friendly

touching

Opposites Attract

rugged softness

Always one serious one in the bunch.

button up