|Conch shells piled up like our problems|
But eventually it all catches up with you. Paradise is a fleeting state of mind. It keeps us going. It keeps us focused long enough to break the chains that bind. And for a while, we frolic and play in this Caribbean Paradise without a care. But then the other shoe falls, and it's such a shock to the mind that has enjoyed such Paradise, it is far more dramatic than it should be.
Perhaps the mind becomes "rusty" at dealing with reality. The fight-or-flight function that helps us deal with the day-to-day dramas back in the real world relaxes and gets flabby. That's the only way I can account for the profound stress I felt during this difficult time.
The long month on-the-hard was supposed to be over. I held out as long as I could and it was supposed to all be alright after we splashed. Instead, the nightmare (in my mind) continued. Once floating again, it took all of my strength of will not to just give up. But slowly, with the help and advice of friends, I formulated a game plan.
The old plan: Splash our shiny new boat and head for Bonaire for some fun, then on to Curaçao. Once there, we would replace the 11 year old standing rigging and have a survey so that we can shop for new insurance.
But now, all of my work in coordinating that plan was for naught. I had to know if our boat was seaworthy. We could not head out to the Western Caribbean with these doubts in my mind. And here I have to insert that it was in my mind and not in Bruce's. I guess it's my fear of the unknown driving me, but I had to know why our boat was doing this thing. I tried, but I just couldn't let it go.
And so, I dug in and started asking questions. Directed by suggestions of other boat owner/friends, I made my plan. The first place I went looking for information was the boat builder. Our boat was built in Largo, Florida, and the yard there has a guy still on staff who was there! He advised us and pointed us in the direction we needed to go. Get a surveyor out to look at the boat.
All fingers seemed to point that way. Mr. Neils at Clarke's Court had said the same thing. So, we asked around, found an accredited Surveyor and a new plan was born. Instead of waiting until Curaçao for the haul out and survey, we would do it here in Grenada.
|Sperry calling it Ready to EAT!|
|Trying to get back into "Cruiser Mode", we went to an Oil Down on Hog Island|
|Bruce had the meat pot, while I enjoyed the vegetarian version.|
|I had extra good veggies that Bruce didn't have!|
|We took our jib in for inspection and repairs.|
And we had a LONG list of boat projects. We wanted to clean the boat up and fix the myriad of small things that we had put off, so that the boat would be in tip-top shape when the Surveyor came. First impressions are everything. We combed over the boat, cleaning and shining and putting things away.
|Up she comes again!|
Finally it was here. We were ready. The boat was washed and shining. Everything was stowed to make a clean look that, during the time we've owned her, our boat has never seen. We would have enjoyed the prideful feeling if it hadn't been for the underlying fear of what the surveyor would say when he saw that little crack...
We pulled up to the dock at Spice Island Marine and welcomed Neil aboard. We confessed our little problem to him, showed him the prior survey comments about it, and we talked about it in depth.
After that, we both felt very much relieved. His manner was easy and inspired confidence that we would get a fair and thorough survey. He went about his work on the outside of the boat as we hovered a short distance away.
We returned and answered some questions and then we went down below for the inside inspection. We took Neil through all of our systems and showed him things he couldn't find. Before he could finish, our time in the loading bay arrived. He would have to resume his inspection on the hard.
The word "nervous" just does not convey the range of emotions I felt as they brought our home back out onto dry land for the second time. Think anxiety; dread; cold fear. All of the advice we'd been given about what to do was swirling around in my head. We wanted a clear consensus from the pros, that would lead us to the right way forward.
Our little booboo actually looked good. The hasty do-for repair Anderson did back in Clarke's Court was holding nicely and you almost couldn't see it. If it weren't for the fact that we were about to be placed on blocks once again, which could cause the crack to reopen... we could have just quietly had the survey done and plopped back into the water. But I had to know. I had to have peace. My Crazy had to be quieted.
Upon arrival to our little piece of real estate for the night, the shit sort of hit the fan. I had mentioned to the yard staff at every phase of this event, that we had been advised NOT to place the weight of the boat onto the keel. Keep in mind here that we do not know what we're talking about, and are relying on the advice of SO many experts. And also keep in mind, that there are more expert opinions than there are stars in the sky, so we've had to do our best to wade through them all to come up with a plan.
When I told the yard crew not to put it on blocks at THIS moment, they went nuts. They called the yard manager, and then he called the yard owner. All of them convened with lots of glances in my direction and waving of arms. I met them head on with the assurance that we would abide by whatever decision they made. I told them the problem and we all agreed that the boat must be placed on blocks. It wasn't safe, or good for the hull, to let the full weight rest on the chock stands.
As a compromise, they would go lightly on the blocks to try to reduce the flex of the hull. I consulted with the surveyor about this and he agreed that it was the right choice. And so, action resumed. Anderson was already on the scene and he consulted with the surveyor and the yard owner, while I went up that perilous ladder to see what havoc Jezabelle had wrought during the moving of the boat. Grace shone upon me that day as I found her lying on the floor, peaceful and oblivious to any peril.
Thankful for small favours, I invited Neil (the surveyor) back in, and he resumed his work while Anderson got busy down below, removing the prior filler and fiberglass, grounding it back down and then putting on another, more robust layering of filler and fiberglass.
The survey was concluded. The only ding was for having two fire extinguishers (of the four onboard) that were part of a recall we had not heard about. They weren't expired, but they would have to be replaced.
Bruce and I were beyond relieved that finally, things were working out. There were a few small things that we could easily correct, but overall, we came through the survey with flying colours! All of our days - weeks - of hard work finally paid off!
|Our beautiful bottom job now all splotchy!|
Other than the fact that we now had a big splotch on our bottom, it looked just fine. But it had looked just fine the last time.
Somehow I had to get through another sleepless night, kept up with worry about what would happen the next day. How could I keep it together if I heard that horrible sound again when they lift the boat???
The repair had lots of time to cure as our splash time wasn't until 2pm the next day. We were ready when the yard crew arrived exactly on time. I have to tell you that in comparison with Clarke's Court... they may be the preferred yard of choice here in Grenada, but as one who has experienced BOTH in rapid succession, I can wholeheartedly recommend Spice Island as my first choice. There are good things about both, but the customer service and care here at Spice Island is by far superior.
The crew arrived and made their preparations while Bruce and I stood watching every move. My heart was in my mouth as the engine revved and the straps began to tighten around our home. I had considered waiting out of sight and earshot so that I wouldn't see it if it cracked again. I knew full-well that if I did, Bruce would never tell me if it had cracked. So, in the end, I stood watching.
My joy knew no bounds! We did it! We went the extra mile and made it good. And we were rewarded. This thing that had taken on a life of its own in my mind, was banished! It's going to be OK...
They lowered us back down to the welcoming wet world that is our home, and we joyfully motored away.
|Any bigger and I'll mistake it for a BOOB!|
About two months ago, a tiny speck appeared on my chest. I watched it grow in silence, trying to determine if it looked like a squamous cell carcinoma that Bruce had removed some years ago. And while it didn't look exactly like his, it was growing very fast and it caused me discomfort. It itched and sometimes felt very tender. It got red and inflamed if it got much sunshine. I could no longer postpone admitting to Bruce that it was time we made an appointment with a dermatologist.
|I love the simplicity of island medical offices|
Key the violins! My world was thrown back into turmoil as, of course, Dr. Isaacs recommended that my little bump must come off.
Bruce also had one suspicious spot that needed removal, so we made appointments to come back three days hence for the minor surgical procedure that would rule my thoughts between now and then. My fear of needles and my fear of having chunks gouged out of my body made for some nightmarish days. How I wished that she could have just done it then and there.
But the day came. I let Bruce go first, which was a good plan except for the fact that I could smell the burnt flesh when I walked into the room after he was done. Somehow, I willed my feet to propel me forward, and submitted my body for some torturous (in my head) moments, as I struggled to blank out what was happening.
One small stinging prick and I felt nothing but the blotting of blood between benign touches. Then more benign touches as the smell of burning flesh flooded my nostrils. I held my breath, trying not to smell the scent that would send me to the floor if I wasn't already lying down. I got clammy and sweaty and felt a roaring in my head. My vision turned white and I said I thought I was going to faint. They fanned me with fresh air and I felt better. Big breaths, almost done. And DONE!
|My mixing cups.|
It was over. One drama down. Two more yet to conquer. The number two drama wasn't really as bad... only expensive. After a month in the yard to the tune of well in excess of $10,000USD, we began the replacement of our standing rigging. We knew this day would eventually come when we purchased the boat, but it's still hard to stomach watching all that money just fly away. We hired Turbulence Marine to do the job and were actually pleased that the quote for the entire job came in below what we expected.
I'm just going to go ahead and put my irrational fear out there in the world in hopes that Karma will see the futility of messing with me and move on. My fear is that after all these years of flawless performance by our standing rigging... we will spend all of this money replacing it, and the new rigging will fail. There it is. The irony that is sometimes my life has taught me to be skeptical of any sort of smooth sailing.
But tiny glimmers of hope are beginning to surface once again like the sparkle of new Boat-Bling! Who needs diamonds and gold chains when you can run your hands over the silky smooth surface of new wire rigging?
|Thes metal boat-bits are as pleasing to me as any flower|
Also pleasing to me, is watching someone ELSE go up the mast repeatedly to wrangle these wires into their proper places. Knowing that we have someone whose job this is to do it for us is comforting. It helps to ease the pain of so many meals eaten onboard and so many days spent avoiding spending money on the pleasures that Grenada has to offer. She lures with her siren song but we are deaf to her call. We must be. We'll be eating in and remembering past outings for some time to come... taking in the simple - and inexpensive - pleasures where we can as we slowly work to put all of these stresses behind us and get our mojo back.
|Patrick and Vanessa playing a song!|
|We got invited to hear a Cruiser's Jam - Good times! It was just what we needed to turn the tides in our favour.|
|This cost nothing!|
|Our boat in centre just out from our swimming spot on Calabash Beach|
|It's Plumeria season!|
|The anchorage from the hill|
|Cold Pomegranate Cider for me, craft brewed beer for Bruce|
Oh, and that third drama I mentioned above. Well, that has been slowly unfolding throughout this process since just after we splashed the first time. My mom, who has been living in our townhouse, has decided that the restrictions of our HOA are too much for her. She's moving out and we're going to sell.
I bought tickets to the States (more expense), hired a work crew to do some repairs on the townhouse (more expense), found a Realtor (Thanks to my daughter!!!) and am working toward getting the boat and Bruce ready for my long absence. All of this from about 2000 miles away!!!
Also in progress, the mental preparations for disposing of the remainder of decades worth of treasures we've got stored in our townhouse. I knew this day we've been running from would eventually catch us... The day that we would have to dip back into the real world. The day that we would have to deal with costs, and taxes and rules and real life in general... But that doesn't help now that it has arrived.
I'll be in the States for almost a month and if I get everything done that needs doing without losing my mind, it will be a miracle! A huge thanks goes out to my daughter, Melissa. Without her steady influence, this could not get done. What a lucky mom I am to have raised such a daughter! I'm beyond ready to get OFF of this emotional roller coaster and fully commit to living the life of a Cruiser...
Bartender...pour me another CIDER!