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Catching Up

Phew. A lot has happened over the last few days. Unfortunately it all coincided with the peak of my side effects from RT which has left me feeling pretty wiped out a lot of the time. So a combination of lack of time and lack of energy has delayed me blogging. Good news is I am feeling on the upswing and on a roll.

So a quick recap of what’s happened since last time.

Every day on the boat was filled with more work. Minor fixes, cleaning the boat/cupboards/surfaces/anything, head in bilges cleaning pump valves (to prevent water backfilling bilges), packing the last of our stuff to take to the UK, etc. Helen did far more than I as the Queensland heat and RT side effects would knock me out and I’d have to rest for a while. While not active I was often still busy setting up new brokers and the endless follow up on all the stuff going on in our lives right now. One of the things now behind us is the sale of the NJ rental property that all started just before we set sail in 2008. The whole thing has been a bit of a disaster financially but we’ve had some astounding help. If anyone is looking for a first class property manager in the Cranford area, contact us.

We did have some fun times too.

On Saturday we met up with Steve and Vickie from True Companions and Bert and Ingi from Boree. Steve and Vickie were interested in our lessons learned selling a boat here in Australia. Bert and Ingi have graciously agreed to keep an eye on Dignity while we’re out of Brisbane as they’re staying in the bay for some time. We all ended up going out for a Chinese meal together in the evening.

On Sunday Sam came over to pick up some of his stuff. We took him to his digs in Brisbane and then went out to watch the latest Bond movie. Afterwards we ate dinner together then sat chatting in the park by the South Bank. It all seemed familiar in a way to us and we wondered if it was the site of Expo ’88 which we visited when we were last in Australia nearly 25 years ago. Later research showed it was.

Monday was a bit frantic as we mistook our flight departure time for our leave the boat time. We realized this when waking up but had to cram a lot into the morning with 2-3 hours less than we’d planned for. In amongst all this we had the gas inspector round to certify our appliances. We are now fully certified – Yay.

Jack and Jan came over from Anthem to say goodbye. We were all quite sweaty as we were all working in the heat but it didn’t stop the hugs goodbye.

We returned our hire car and made it to the airport in good time arriving in Melbourne without delay. With good traffic we were back around 7pm local time in time to celebrate Russ’s birthday with their first BBQ of the summer.

Dignity, in a lot of ways, is now no longer our home. We still have a couple of options to return to her and take her out for a final sail. We haven’t done so, so far, due to lack of time mostly, but it would be nice to take the old girl out for a final spin sometime. We’ll see.

Back here in Melbourne life goes on. Yesterday I had a blood test to make sure I’m ok for the next chemo beating which starts midday today. The next two (and final two) sessions should be chemo lite. I imagine the treatment as rubbing down the gelcoat. We’re now on the final fine grained sandpaper hopefully leaving a nice smooth finish. Final MRI is now booked as our our final meetings with consultants from Monash and Peter Mac. The end, no sorry, the beginning of the rest of our lives is in sight.

Party Time

About 2 hours after my last blog entry I finally managed some sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking of things to now do both for moving forward with selling Dignity and the rest of our lives. I didn’t sleep long and was soon back at it. One of the big frustrations I am having is getting the gas certification done for the appliances we have. I’ve been told so many things by so many people my head sometimes feels like it’s going to explode. If it did, I might make a radioactive mess.

Shortly before 6pm our friends, who’d beat the weather window down here, all arrived to join us aboard. Suddenly it was just like the old times. We blasted through cruisers’ midnight with ease with most folks heading home around 10:30pm. It was nice to have the usual boating chat (sea stories and whatnot) and of course share our experiences with my health, the dismasting and with selling the boat. A great had by all. With us were Jack and Jan from Anthem, Gary and Jackie from Inspiration Lady, Ed and Cornelia from A Cappella, Steve & Vickie from True Companions and Rob from Bristol Rose. Take a look at the category links to see some, but probably not all, of our interactions with these good friends of ours.

This morning we both got down to work. We’ve now rescheduled our trip up to the Sunshine Coast to spend Tuesday and Wednesday night with Ella and Granddaughter Bau. And the whole of Wednesday. We’re really looking forward to their company.

Helen did her detailed cleaning of the boat. I pulled apart all the gas fittings and took a load of photos so I could be better positioned to understand the ragged bunch of gas fitters, inspectors and government officials that circle around us. The admin continues. We’ve sold off a few more items from the boat which will allow us to buy a few more packets of crisps.

This afternoon I suddenly came over immensely fatigued. I’ve been running so high on anticipation, excitement, challenge and drugs for the last few days I think I basically got run over by the truck of tiredness. A couple of hours of interrupted rest and I was back going again. Sam’s arriving soon and we’ll be having quality time together this evening. In the morning it’s off to see most of the same friends again for a delayed turkey dinner at Trish and Rob’s home.

We’ve had time to reflect on the first offer good enough for us to accept on the boat and what subsequently transpired. Our thoughts haven’t changed much since yesterday. Although we have our opinions I don’t think it fair to comment on the other parties as, if nothing else, we still like them. For our part we now feel we got too wrapped up in the ‘story’ of our finishing our life aboard Dignity and handing her over to a couple starting their own. We became too emotionally attached which brought a few tears to Helen’s eyes when it was clear the deal was off. Not for the loss of the sale, but for the failure of the story to emerge. When we sold our home in New Jersey back in 2008 to start our adventure we took the emotion off the table. It worked very well. We’ve taken the lesson.

There’s more than one way to look at this

First the health update. Phase two is complete. 20/20. No more RT. Got a chance to give a few more of the techs a hug and thank them for their fine work. After the penultimate session I had my weekly visit with the oncology doctor. We discussed how I was progressing and how I was feeling. The pain in my esophagus and trachea was again discussed. He prescribed some numbing gel, just in case I needed it, and some steroids (at a much lower dose than before) to reduce the swelling. We had some of the same steroid left over from before so we didn’t have to buy any more. I took one tablet late morning. By evening I was going hyper, talking way too much (totally unlike me), and overnight my mind ran up to 1,000 km/h. I slept little more than an hour. We checked with the doctor after the final session. He said the best thing was to stop the steroid treatment. I can take a few extra days of throat ache if I can sleep. A simple trade.

Wednesday evening we flew to Brisbane, picked up our hire car and drove to Manly picking up some essential provisions (somewhere more than 1 bottle) and having a bite to eat. Steve and Vickie from True Companions met us at the gate to let us in as we had left our electronic pass behind. We had hugs and a brief chat as we walked back to Dignity where they left us alone knowing we have a lot of time together this evening.

Sam appeared shortly after we did. We were up into the early hours chatting all over the place. He’s got some exciting things going with Greenpeace. I don’t think we’ve seen him looking happier as an adult. I went to bed some time after 1am and woke around 5:3am. The blasted steroid is still going.

This morning we had a date with our buyers. The long and the short of it is the deal is off. Probably every party involved will have their own idea why. At the end of the day I think it fair to say that all of us will benefit, each to our own degree, from being able to take the pressure off and take the lessons learned. We parted amicably.

Pressure off? We’ve already opened the doors to other interested parties. We know of one buyer who is specifically interested in our boat. Some may call us a mug for not letting others onto the boat while the current deal was in play. We actually wanted this deal with this couple to go through.

Would you be surprised to know that we think there could be something positive to be found out of this. Already, we know we’re going to get more time with our grand daughter and may get out for a sail on our own. Already priceless. We have a lot of thinking to do over the 24 hours. We’ve got as far as making a list of things to think about and kicking along a few balls already in play.

Back to the health side of things. Communications with the UK have really opened up over the last few days. We’re now in contact with the UK Lymphoma Society who have already given us some good information on hospitals / specialists and we’re getting into more detail. This will all become significant when we get into making decisions about where and how to live back in the UK.

For now. As a friend once said to me many times. Life is good.

Steroid has now just about run its course. It’s just gone 11am and I need, I really need, to sleep.

Parua Bay

As you can tell from the title of this blog there is no suspense regarding our outboard parts and whether or not we escaped Whangarei. We made it out but here’s our day in a little more detail.

Early morning, Brendan from the Palmer Canvas came round to adjust the straps for our blinds. They had been made a little too long and needed an extra attachment to keep the straps tidy when the blind is rolled down.

Steve from True Companions took me out to sell off the power tools the French techs had bought and to fill up our propane tank. I got a few $$$ for the tools but nothing exciting. They were all bottom of the range and at best could be sold half price. And the store needed to make a profit so we got enough for an evening meal. Without wine.

The propane store was a little more picky than usual about our non standard propane tank. But they filled it anyway so we were set.

Upon my return I called the outboard shop to see if our part had arrived. Not only had it arrived but the outboard had been fixed. Yay. I lowered the somewhat flaccid dinghy and paddled over to the outboard workshop on the other side of the river. I paid the bill and we manhandled the motor onto the dinghy. The engine fired up, the throttle moved easily. Things were looking up.

Back on the boat Helen was busy washing the deck knowing that we were fast running out of time to use the dock water. I paid up our dock bill and handed in the keys.

Helen took a break from the washing to do a last minute shop. While she was out I sorted out our vodafone dongle so we had ways to access the internet once out of the harbour.

I then headed off to Palmer canvas to pay our bill. I was delighted to find the work came in under 30% below the quoted price. Full praise to Palmer for a job well done and at a great price.

After some last minute rinsing we were ready to go. Alene from Migration was passing by and offered to throw lines for us. Just at that point Dan and his kids from Division II arrived in their dinghy. Paige told us not to go. They had drawn some pictures for us to say thanks for letting them play on the XBox. That was very nice.

With the kids helping, Alene threw off the lines and we backed out of our slip, turned around then headed down the river.

We soon learned how sheltered it is in the town basin as further down the river we were encountering 20-25 knot winds and choppy water. Once we made a turn and had the wind on our beam I put out the head sail and turned off the engines. We kept going this way until we approached the entrance to Parua Bay. The entrance was tight with shallows to navigate and a dog leg off to the right into ‘The Nook’ before entering the bay proper. In 25 knot winds we picked a spot to anchor, dropped the hook and were comforted to feel it bite and set immediately.

In 25 knot winds we were not going to be going ashore so we settled in for a quiet afternoon / evening generally relaxing. We ended the day watching the movie Hugo which was very entertaining. The good news is that with all this wind, the wind gen is earning it’s keep.

The weather forecast is barely encouraging. Winds will soon switch to easterly but they’ll settle. The seas are currently rough. Around Sunday the winds are forecast to come from the northeast which may give us an opportunity to get out to Great Barrier Island. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to make it south to the Auckland area for the departure of the Volvo race this coming weekend. Pity. But we’ll keep our eyes on the weather. It’s a fickle thing.

On the up side the sun is having a go at shining at it’s not raining. The wind is still up but the bay feels like it’s beginning to calm. Perhaps we can go ashore later today.

Will it ever stop raining?

Perhaps not until we reach Fiji. I joke. At least I hope so. But it feels like it sometimes. Continuous on and off drizzle and rain is just so dull. At least our new shades are doing a great job of keeping our cockpit dry.

I dropped off the car Saturday morning popping in to the propane store to fill the container that was discharged by the recent leak. Unfortunately I’d put it off too long and discovered the propane store was only open Monday to Friday. Fortunately Steve from True Companions is going to take me round on Monday.

Most of the day was spent, under Helen’s direction, shifting things around the boat. The balance is now even better than before. Furthermore, using some arcane magic, Helen managed to find places for all the stuff scattered around the boat. Even the forward guest bunk is almost free of stored stuff. That will be needed when we head up to Fiji as it looks like Paul will be joining us again as well as Sam.

Sunday morning we’ve had some time off but got back into things around lunchtime. Helen’s been off shopping and I’ve changed the fuel filters on the genset. I want to clean the windlass but it’s raining again.