We’ve been in Stuart for 10 days. Love the town. The weather? Not so much.
Since we’ve been here, the average high temperature has been 67°. That’s 7° colder than it’s supposed to be in January. It’s been windy. Two tornadoes have touched down in neighboring towns. We’ve had more than 5” of rain in 10 days with localized flooding. It seems that Florida has forgotten that it’s nicknamed the Sunshine State because there’s been way more clouds than sunshine.
The locals are not in love with this weather either. They can’t apologize enough and are quick to assure us that this is not normal. This is supposed to be the dry season. February will be better. They promise.
I like that about Floridians. They are happy we’re here. They want us to have a good time. They want us to come back. They want us to love Florida as much as they do.
That’s why I don’t understand why the Florida legislature is considering a bill that will ban overnight anchoring in several areas popular with cruising boaters. I’m not politically savvy. I can’t even pretend to understand the political game that is being played here, and I can’t imagine what will happen if the bill passes. Still, I have to wonder how many Floridians are even aware of this bill because I get the impression that Florida needs and enjoys Cruisers as much as Cruisers need and enjoy Florida.
We arrive at St. Augustine’s Municipal Marina in time to catch the 10 AM water taxi out to the mooring field. At first glance, FNR looks no worse for the wear after 3 ½ weeks on a mooring ball. Not so upon closer inspection. We lost the mildew wars.
We anticipated dealing with some issue on our return so the plan to take FNR 18 miles south to Marineland Marina is a good one. Steve cranks the diesel, drops me off at the dock and heads down the river. I hop in the truck, go buy cleaning supplies, and head down A1A.
We’re both a little nervous about Steve being on the boat by himself post-blood clot, but he promises to call me every hour with an update. His calls go something like this:
11:00: All’s well. Tides are in my favor so I’m making good time. The diesel’s smoking a little but it’s running okay. May be water in the fuel.
12:00: All’s well. Made a turn. Going against the tide now but still making pretty good time. The diesel is still smoking.
1:00: It’s foggy as h~~l out here. If the diesel is still smoking, I can’t see it because I can’t see s**t.
2:00: I ran aground. The fu^^^ng markers are in the wrong place. Talked a guy in a pontoon boat into pulling me off. It’s tough out here. I can’t see s**t.
3:00: I’m at Red 86. Just hailed the marina to let them know I’m almost there. The Dockmaster said he is standing at the end of the dock waving at me. Wanted to know if I could see him. I said h~~l no, I can’t see you. I can’t see s**t.
3:30: That was bad. That was real bad. I really needed to have a good day.
We spend an hour or so tackling the mildew and then drive down to Palm Coast for the night. Thanks to our BoatUS discount, we get a hotel room pretty cheap. Not the best room, but it’s better than sleeping with mildew.
We’re back on FNR first thing in the morning and she’s clean by early afternoon. Over lunch, we talk about what’s next. With a little over a week before we’re supposed to be in Stuart, we decide to take it easy for a couple of days. Whew! Bought myself some time to find cheap marinas between here and Stuart and to perfect my “I don’t want to anchor out” speech.
It’s no secret. I don’t love anchoring out, but I don’t hate it either. Anchoring out is free. That’s good. Anchoring out is usually peaceful and beautiful. That’s good. But getting emergency medical treatment when you’re anchored out is not something that happens quickly and post-blood clot that worries me. That’s bad.
With my list of cheap marinas in hand, I explain this to Steve. He gets it. The blood clot was bad. Losing the mildew war was bad. Getting to this marina was bad. Worrying while anchored out is bad. We really need some good days.
And, just like that, we get them.
Marineland to New Smyrna Beach City Marina (50.5 miles): A cool start and a little overcast but the water is calm and we’re practically all by ourselves on the waterway. Diesel’s not smoking. Marina is easily accessible. Docking is a piece of cake. Helpful and friendly staff. Cutest downtown ever. Clean bathrooms. Great Wi-Fi. $1.25/ft. plus $6 for electric.
New Smyrna Beach City Marina to Titusville Municipal Marina (31.8 miles): Another cool start to the day but the sun comes out and it gets so warm that we put the side curtains up. Marina is right off the ICW. Finger piers are short but Steve has no problem backing into the slip. Pleasant walk through downtown. Bathrooms and Wi-Fi meet our expectations. It’s a little bumpy early in the evening but by bedtime, it’s calm. $1.44/ft. with BoatUS discount plus $5 for electric.
Titusville Municipal Marina to Eau Gallie Yacht Basin in Melbourne (38.7 miles): The cockpit is nice and toasty. The Addison Point Bridge (27’ closed vertical clearance) only opens half way but it’s navigable. Getting into the Eau Gallie River is a little tricky but once in, the marina is easy to find. There’s a boat in our assigned slip, but several locals are on the dock to direct us to our new one. Quaint little downtown. Throwback marina. Rustic, but adequate facilities. Well-protected from the two recent storm systems that ripped through central Florida. Friendly folks. Wi-Fi works as long as our antenna is pointed in the right direction. $1.00/ft. Electric included.
We had some really good days, but I’m not sure that’s what we really needed. All we may have needed was time. Time to get used to being back on FNR. Time to settle into a routine. Time to get reacquainted with our adventure. Time to get our zen back.
We’re leaving for Stuart in the morning. It’s going to take us a couple of days to get there, but I’m not worried. We have time. And besides, it looks like there are several good anchorages between here and there.
My mother went into labor during my 3rd birthday party and left to go to the hospital. My sister was born later that day. That’s one of those memorable experiences you never forget.
I’ve shared my birthday with my little sister for 51 years. I hated not having a birthday all to myself for a long time but one day, I got over it. Now don’t get me wrong. Birthdays are kind of a big deal to me, because quite frankly, I like presents. My sister and I don’t exchange birthday presents anymore. We have what we need and don’t want for much. Even so, I still like getting presents but I like giving presents even more. I especially enjoy surprising the recipient with an unexpected present. My sister does, too.
Steve and I are staying in Oriental for the month of October before continuing our trip south. Excited to participate in one of Susan’s yoga classes again, I am disappointed to learn that the studio is being remodeled and classes have been cancelled for the week. Oh, well. That means next week’s class will be even more enjoyable.
Susan is at the desk checking folks in when I arrive. Grinning from ear to ear, she hands me an envelope. What in the world? I open it. A gift certificate for two classes from my sister! Perfect! A trifecta, in fact.
Who doesn’t love free stuff?
Susan enjoyed giving me my gift almost as much as I enjoyed getting it.
My sister surprised me with an unexpected gift.
Once set up for class, I start looking around. The lobby has been redone. The studio is freshly painted. There’s new artwork on the walls. I take a closer look. Why those are yoga mats hanging on the walls. Each one beautifully and refreshingly painted. How unique. How peaceful. How zen-like.
After class, I ask Susan about them. A local artist painted them. She gives me her card.
I contact Melanie. Please will you paint a mat for my sister? She’s the one who introduced me to yoga. She just started working from home and I think she’d love to have one of your mats hanging in her home office.
Melanie wants to meet me to discuss my vision for the mat. Vision? I’m the least artistic person I know. This should be interesting.
We meet at the local coffee shop. We talk about colors and textures. Are there any particular images I want on the mat? Why, yes, I think so. How about a lotus flower and the Om symbol? We talk a little more and the next thing I know, I’ve commissioned my first artist. How cool is that?
I wasn’t able to give my sister her present until we came home for the holidays. Unexpected? Yes. Perfect? You decide. If you’re on FB, try hecking it out here. I think she liked it.
The shortness of breath, SOB for short in the medical world, started the week of Thanksgiving. Steve’s had SOB before, several episodes over the last five or so years. A quick-paced walk or a steep flight of stairs and he’s huffing and puffing. Doctors have tried, but can’t figure out what’s causing it. Cardiac issue? Allergies? Asthma? COPD? Nope, nothing definitive. Strange and frustrating, yet the episodes always resolve after a few weeks so we aren’t too concerned. Still, we are home for the holidays so Steve calls to make an appointment with his doctor.
We arrive a few minutes early for his 9 AM appointment, expecting the visit to go quickly. We need to get back to Wake Forest. Steve has more drywall to hang and I have chili to make for the granddaughter’s first birthday party. Imagine our surprise when a blood pressure of 130/110 prompts his doctor to order a STAT CT of the chest to rule out a pulmonary embolism (think: do this test really quick because this guy might have a blood clot in his lung and there’s a 90% chance that he drops dead right here in front of us). I think the doctor is being overly cautious. I mean, really. This husband of mine hung drywall yesterday and drove here this morning from Wake Forest. He feels fine. He just gets short of breath. He’s had this before.
Fast forward to 3 PM. Steve is admitted to the hospital with a 5.4 x 2.6 cm. pulmonary embolism (think: huge-honking big, about the size of a man’s thumb). He is started on IV heparin which is supposed to keep other clots from forming while his body works to break up the huge-honking big one in his lung. The doctors assure us that his prognosis is good. He’ll be in the hospital for 2 – 3 days and will have to be on blood thinners for 6 months. They tell us it’s going to take 6 – 8 weeks for the clot to dissolve and that he will have SOB until it does, but we can expect a full recovery. We resolve ourselves to the facts that there will be no drywall hung and no chili made today. We’re going to miss the first birthday party but the middle daughter is going to FaceTime us when the granddaughter eats her cake so, at least, we’ll get to see that.
We settle in. We’ve gotten good at biding time…until another doctor comes in.
The blood clot is not the only thing found on the CT scan. There’s a 1 cm. nodule of “uncertain chronicity” (meaning: they have no idea how long it’s been there) in the back of his right lung and since blood clots can be caused by a malignancy, a PET scan is ordered to rule out cancer. It will be after Christmas before we can get that done. The doctors tell us that they expect the PET scan to be negative; that it needs to be done for “completion”. That’s certainly encouraging but waiting a week to get the scan done and then waiting another week to get the results can be a little taxing in the best of circumstances. It’s particularly taxing when you live on a boat and your boat is on a mooring ball 500 miles away in St. Augustine and you see this on Facebook.
We get great news at Steve’s follow up appointment on Monday, January 4. The nodule is scar tissue, probably from a long-ago bout with pneumonia. We can go back to boat as long as Steve promises:
To get his blood drawn once a month to monitor how well the blood thinner is working.
To not engage in activities that put him at risk of injuries or falls that might cause bleeding.
Pinky promises made, we’re getting FNR the heck out of the St. Augustine mooring field and heading down to Marineland Marina just south of St. Augustine. There, we’ll get FNR ready to travel to Stuart, FL for a month or two stay.
Once in Stuart, our focus will shift from a BC (Before Clot) lifestyle to an AC (After Clot) lifestyle.
BC: We relied on alternate forms of transportation (bicycles, buses, Ubers, trolleys) to get to places that are too far to walk to. This works well if you don’t have to have your blood drawn once a month.
AC: We will have a vehicle with us going forward. We’ll leave our truck in St. Augustine and once we get settled in Stuart, we’ll rent a car and go pick it up. We’ll repeat that process as we head further south.
BC: All the rain we’ve had and the long days spent traveling limited the amount we exercised. Sitting in the cabin or at the helm all day restricts blow flow, which contributes to the formation of clots.
AC: We will have transportation so we’re joining a gym meaning we can and will exercise when it rains. Also, the First Mate will be taking the helm more often so the Captain can get up and move around every hour or so.
BC: We know how to eat healthy, but eating unhealthy is easier and tastes Oh. So. Good.
AC: Eating unhealthy results in excess weight and excess weight increases the risk of blood clots. Therefore, we are going to lose a few pounds by replacing our unhealthier eating habits with healthier ones.
BC: We tackled many a boat project without even thinking about excessive bleeding caused by an injury or fall.
AC: Steve will NOT be going up the mast anytime soon. Steve will NOT use a utility knife to sharpen a pencil or cut the foil off a wine bottle. Steve WILL buy a pair of those cut-resistant gloves and he WILL wear them.
BC: We traveled long and hard, hell-bent on finding warm, happy and dry.
AC: Steve’s SOB was life threatening, and we didn’t pay it much attention. Maybe we were too focused on finding warm, happy and dry. We fell off the present moment wagon big time. We can’t change that and there’s no sense in resolving to not fall off again because we will. All we can do is get back on that wagon and enjoy the ride, one moment at a time.