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Logs & Stories - October 2001
October 29, 2001
We are still in Berkeley. We (Naomi and Karryn) returned Monday afternoon, then for the next three days we did chores that required a car. Once we returned the car, we started on the boat tasks that we want to finish before heading south. Bill had actually been taking time to read while we were gone, so the list wasn't quite finished yet.
Bill's mom Yvonne flew in on Sunday, and we had dinner with friends that originally met in Tahiti 30 years. It was a bit squishy with 11 people on the boat, but we managed to all squeeze in the back to watch slides from that trip. It was a very neat experience.
We're planning on heading out at the end of the week. We want to finish the autopilot and anchor locker work, and Naomi wants to go trick-or-treating with Paul Kamen and his son Rocky. I'm amazed we've been here over a month, but the Berkeley Marina has been a great place to be. However, I'm looking forward to seeing new places.
October 13, 2001
Naomi and I made it out of the hospital late Wednesday evening, and have been at the home of Chas and Michele Douglass since then. Staying here has been invaluable: we get a place to stay, they are fun to be around, and Michele just happens to be the nurse that works with the doctor that operated on Naomi. I get all my "Is this normal?!?" questions answered right away. Being here has made this whole process not only less stressful, plus lots of fun at times.
Naomi couldn't walk without assistance when we got here, and going up and down stairs was a very slow process, even with my help. Now she can not only walk everywhere fairly comfortably, she's starting to get in and out of chairs by herself. She's made especially good progress since yesterday morning, and I think it's been because of the presence of Chas and Michele's kids, Emma and Clay. They distract her and indirectly encourage her to move around and act normally. Emma still hasn't given up asking for a look at Naomi's stitches, but so far Naomi has said no. I think this is mostly because she doesn't want to look at her own stitches. However, Naomi is happy with her continued healing, and I think she'll be ready to live on the boat by the time we are currently scheduled to return.
I can identify with Naomi not wanting to look at her stitches. I know I should watch Monday while my infected nail is removed, in case I have to do something similar, but I'm not sure if I'll muster up enough courage. For those of you who are fortunately in the dark about this, one of my fingernails got caught in a car door nearly 3 months ago. While we were in Neah Bay, it started to get infected, but soaking it in hot salted water seemed to keep the bugs at bay. However, while we were in the hospital, it did get infected. Naomi's surgeon advised me to get someone to look at it as soon as possible. So I did and the woman that examined my nail immediately said, "Oh, that has to come off." My hand shot behind my back without any conscious thought; over my dead body, I thought. She gave me a prescription for antibiotics, betadine to soak it in, and scheduled an appointment for me Monday morning, with the option of canceling it if I couldn't bring myself to come in. However, it didn't take long for her rationale to sink in: it could get infected again, keeping it out of tropical salt water full of bacteria will be very difficult, and it's very likely to get pulled off in the course of normal sailing activities. Much better to get it removed with a local anesthetic, I thought, so I'll be back at VM on Monday morning.
I'm not getting very far on the list of tasks to take care of while I'm in Seattle, other then dealing with Naomi's operation and post-op care. I underestimated how little sleep I would get taking care of Naomi. I'll either need to get more sleep or start drinking a whole lot more coffee, since I really want to get back to Bill and Jackson on the boat -- and to sunshine. Coming from only two weeks in a consistently sunny climate to the beginning of the rainy season has been depressing. It seems cold to me as well, which gives me hope that I'll adapt to the warmer weather further south.
Up until these Seattle entries, Bill has been the person writing the web content. I do the proofreading and add things, but that's easier than what he does. I have to say that writing for an audience of many, some of whom I probably don't know, is a bit intimidating. I find myself spending a lot more time editing that I would if I were just sending an e-mail, and often removing half of what I just spent a goodly amount of time writing. The dream of being a writer must appeal to many people, but the reality seems a lot more like work than I thought it would!
October 9, 2001
Karryn reporting from Children's Hospital, Seattle
Warning: if you are eating or just ate or generally don't like reading about detailed surgical stuff, be prepared to skip ahead at the first sign of icky stuff!
Naomi had surgery yesterday at Children's Hospital to correct kidney reflux, a condition where the one-way valves going into the bladder don't function properly and urine backs up into the kidneys. It went very well. Because she was going to spend several days in the hospital, she was the last patient for Dr. Rich Grady; outpatients generally go first, since they have to completely recover from anesthesia before being allowed to go home. We arrived at the hospital at noon, and she was taken into OR around 2:30. They began the actual procedure just before 3:30, and was out of surgery just after 5:30. We made it to her inpatient room a bit after 7, but she was still not completely awake. Yvonne and I spent her surgery time waiting in the cafeteria, as I was given a beeper so I didn't have to stay in the surgery waiting area. I hadn't eaten after 6 a.m., since I felt it would be cruel to pick up food when Naomi couldn't eat, and it seemed as good a place as anywhere to wait.
The procedure Naomi had is called a bilateral ureteral reimplantation, meaning both of her ureters (the tubes between the kidneys and the bladder) were first removed from the bladder and then reimplanted properly. She came out of the operation with four tubes going into her body (the plastic kind, not her ureters - those are still inside) more than I expected, two of which I've avoided looking at entirely so far. I don't think I'll escape that completely, though, and it seems unfair that she should have them in her body but I'm too wimpy to even look at them. She has only eaten a little jello since surgery, as it has taken a while for the medical staff to figure out the best combination of pain and anti-nausea medication. (She can't have the epidural catheter removed until she can eat and drink, but the nausea from the pain meds has kept her from eating.) We're encouraged by her interest in food and conversation this afternoon. I don't know when we'll be leaving the hospital, but it won't be earlier than Wednesday evening and most likely not later than Friday.
Children's is an amazing place to be a parent of a child having surgery. Someone (probably lots of someones) has spent a great deal of time making sure it's as easy as possible for all concerned. This was brought home in a very satisfying way as we (Naomi, me, Yvonne and the entire surgical team) were in the anesthesia induction room right before she was taken to the operating room. They treated Naomi like she was an adult, not a little kid, and took all the time necessary to answer our questions. Dr. Grady had been warned ahead of time by Michele of my propensity for fairly detailed questions and he even had photocopied a description of the procedure from a surgery textbook (with pictures rather than photos, which I appreciated!) We also got a copy of the pictures they took from inside her bladder, which I'm sure we can use to get rid of tiring dinner guests -- "Hey, wanna see the pictures from Naomi's surgery??!"
We've been in San Francisco Bay for almost two weeks now, but it was necessary for us to be in Sausalito before writing anything. We'd been spending time in Berkeley and Richmond, places not known for their nautical cachet, so we had to wait until arriving here so you'd still respect us.
We left Tomales Bay on September 19, the day after my last entry. An interesting exit. The passage to our next location, Drakes Bay, just east of Point Reyes, was about 25 miles. I figured we'd need to plan on it being a six hour journey (to be conservative) and wanted to get in about 6pm, an hour before sunset, so we needed to be exiting Tomales about noon, which happened to be around max flood on the day of our parting. Mind you, the entrance to Tomales Bay is a bit challenging -- fast currents, shallow water, and a nice bar with breaking waves in the wrong conditions. We left our anchorage at 11 am, early for us since we now have gotten into the habit of sleeping 10 hours per night and getting up to leisurely breakfasts, and did the hour-long motor up to the entrance. The good news was that the fog had let up, at least briefly; the bad news is that we had a 3-4 knot current against us at times. The shallowest bar, with markings on the chart of 3 feet and just inside the entrance, was the point of max current. That, along with the prospect of crossing a breaking bar increased the tension level to the point where things aboard Seafire were, shall we say, a bit melodramatic and irrational. And that was only me. Other members of the crew may have been worse, depending on your perspective and emotional state at the time.
But we survived, turned south and motored along the Point Reyes coastline as the dreaded fog reappeared and engulfed us. I kept pondering the fate of the poor, unrespected Point Reyes dairy "ranchers" (farmers everywhere else). Unfortunate souls, descendants of the Basque, I've been told, whose destiny it is to spend their lives in the bone-chilling fog attaching suction cups to cold teats, a landscape permeated by cow dung, urine and water-drenched air.
After several hours we rounded the Point Reyes lighthouse, an impressive sight. Three small buildings mounted several hundred feet above the sea, barely below the cloud line. A cold, desolate, rocky place, not a plant in sight, appearing accessible only by trail from a place originating from the mists above. The sound of the foghorn coming from the lighthouse seemed an acknowledgment of the plight of the poor dairy ranchers a short distance to the north: a long, drawn out soulful "Mmmmooooooooooooo".
The anchorage at Drakes Bay was an overpowering place, almost a moonscape in the fog, a crater with the southern half filled with the Pacific Ocean made rolly by the ocean swells. The hills to the north were mostly cliff-like, interspersed with slopes covered only with brown grass.
The trip into San Francisco Bay was uneventful: we motored all the way in calm winds. The Pilot book indicated the Golden Gate would be challenging, a place dominated by fast-moving freighters, strong currents, nasty shoals and blasting winds. We came through at slack tide on a windless, traffic-less day. Upon clearing the orange bridge, the wind filled in and soon built to about 25 knots from the transom. Karryn made a series of phone calls to find moorage (the first cell phone coverage since leaving Bodega Bay!), and came up with a slip at the Berkeley Marina ($16/day), on the east side of the Bay, in the wind funnel directly downwind of the Golden Gate. More anticipatory terror, of course, but once we entered the harbor and the wind lessened in the lee of the various buildings and trees, we found a very comfortable slip next to a handsome Monk ketch, a double-ender of about 45 feet overall. After a putting the boat to bed, we walked over to the Berkeley Yacht Club and were let in by a very kind gentleman by the name of Paul. We were treated to popcorn and then watched George W. Bush address the nation on the matter of a gang of terrorists destroying part of the Pentagon and two buildings in New York. In spite of W's approval rating of 90%, we were in Berkeley, a long held liberal stronghold, and I was treated to a number of folks expressing thoughts as they were running through my mind. You get the idea: George got heckled. I liked this place.
We returned to the boat and met our neighbor John, the owner of the Monk double-ender, a 22-year veteran of the Marine Corps, a trained killer now transformed into a finish carpenter. I feel fortunate that we get along: death and dismemberment have little appeal. It turns out that John bought his boat a short time ago and is in the process of fixing it up. The boat itself is magnificent, the product of 20 years of labor on the part of a master craftsman and a man who obsessed about every detail of construction and outfitting, but who was done once the boat hit the water.
The next night I went sailing on Paul's boat, a Merit 25 and veteran of the Singlehanded Transpac, on a Friday-night race. The race was typical Bay stuff: windy, wet, and a lot of fun. The next day was Saturday, and William Rodarmor, whom we'd met in Tahiti when I was ten, was kind enough to stop by and take Karryn to get groceries and email.
We spent several days at Berkeley, then moved on to Richmond (moorage $16/day) to connect with Eddie and Eileen and their children Becca and Ollie aboard their 48-foot aluminum ketch, Athanor. We spent four days in the marina, mostly letting the kids play together, working on the boat and doing laundry until Athanor departed for Angel Island (a park on the Bay about half the size of Blake Island. We returned to Berkeley so that I could sail a Saturday race with Paul and crew.
We stayed in Berkeley another five days, sailing, socializing at the yacht club, hanging out with Paul and John, and waited for a good day to sail to Sausalito. Unfortunately, it took two days. The first day brought fog and a 30 knot headwind, the second brought fog and a 25 knot headwind. In spite of our Oregon Coast gale experience and all the machismo that goes with it, we're still Puget Sounders and are intimidated by winds over eight knots. On the second day we actually left the marina at Berkeley, but once the wind picked up and we were completely soaked, had one of those, "Ummm...why are we doing this?" conversations, and beat a hasty retreat back to our slip.
Today we had a great sail, found a place to tie to a dock while we went grocery shopping, then came out and anchored in the bay around sunset. I considered it a good sign of how the kids are adapting to the cruising life when they didn't complain at all about a mile walk to the grocery store. Just wait until they have to do it in 90 degree temperatures...