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Closing the Loop

Just rounded Hatteras, heading towards Norfolk

Well here we are. Back in Oxford, MD. 4,327 nautical miles since we left last November. We had another uneventful rounding of Cape Hatteras, arriving in Norfolk in only 44 hours. We anchored the boat near Nancy’s sister Patty’s house and took the dinghy in to her dock. Probably the shortest commute we’ve had all season. We spent a couple of pleasant days hanging around Norfolk helping around the house.

Norfolk commercial docks.
Relaxing at Nancy’s sister’s house

Then it was off up the bay. Our first stop was Reedville, Va. Usually one of our favorite spots on the southern bay. This time however, I had a lapse of judgement and touched the anchor chain as it was moving. It immediately crushed my fingers. Ouch! Nancy fortunately kept her head while listening to my screams over the headset. She continued on to the anchorage while treating me with ice so I wouldn’t pass out. I stopped the bleeding and we got the anchor set. Nancy called for an ambulance, I took two oxycodones and all was better. For a while. upon inspection I could tell I had a good fracture as well as major tissue damage. That was the least of my worries. We still had to get the dinghy in the water so we could get to the dock for the medics. As we were doing that the volunteer rescue (crab) boat came roaring around the point at full chat to pick me up. They almost swamped us in the dinghy, took me aboard and sped off. I wanted them too take Nancy and tow the dinghy but they were in a HURRY! Meanwhile a huge squall was moving our way. It hit Nancy as she was trying to bring the dinghy over with the electric motor. The winds were in the high thirties, the waves were steep and the poor dinghy was being tossed like a pool toy. The rescue boat decided to go get her, again at full chat, circled her, nearly swamped her again before deciding to abandon her and chase down a motor yacht that had broken free of the dock in the storm. Nancy, soaked to the bone, but undaunted soldiered on and got the dinghy tied up and off we went to Kilmarnick hospital. After a 30 minute ambulance ride, the E.R. doc said he couldn’t fix me, so into another ambulance for a 2 hour ride to Richmond and the VCU hospital. The Hand doc there “set” the bone and stitched me up and sent us on our way. Great. But every UBER that we tried cancelled when they found where we wanted to go. Finally a very sympathetic LYFT driver, who was retired, thought it would be a nice drive to the water where he could spend a quiet afternoon watching the world go by, took us in tow and 14 hours after the injury we retired to bed back aboard. So, I suffered an exposed transverse fracture of the distal phalange of my right pinkie, along with some assorted lacerations to my other fingers. All is well, right? Stay tuned.

After spending an extra day in Reedville, we headed on to Solomon’s Island where we had no trauma, only a few cocktails. Finally we returned to Oxford where we will settle in for a couple of months doing boat projects and traveling back to Iowa for my sister Julie’s wedding. While here, we picked up a rental car and headed to Easton for a follow-up on my finger. The tissue is healing well, the nail bed is intact and the bone is in alignment, but…. There is tissue between the bone ends so it won’t grow back together, sad. So, while in Des Moines I must see another hand guru and get it opened back up and re-repaired. I should have just taken the tip off when it happened and I’d be done by now. Oh well, thank goodness for Anne Arundel County Fire Department health insurance.

So, what was it like making a Caribbean loop? We learned that there is no such thing as Paradise. There are only other places where people live and work and struggle with life’s ups and downs (although often in tropical splendor). If you treat everyone you meet with respect and interest, they will respond in kind. If you act like an American on vacation, you will not enjoy the adventure. Because that is what it is; an adventure not a vacation. Things will break on the boat, the weather won’t always cooperate, customs will be tedious, and grocery shopping is, well, grocery shopping. Certainly, there are tranquil moments and vistas of spectacular beauty, but there are also days of maintenance and nights on alert for squalls. We learned how to really sail ZEPHYR. We found that establishing processes for things such as sail raising and changing, and dinghy launching make life much easier. We also found that retirement is hard! Adjusting to a different set of requirements and responsibilities takes effort and understanding.

Although we had some discouraging days, we are not discouraged. We’re treating the Iowa trip as a vacation, a chance to recharge and return to our life afloat. Hopefully we get to Maine this August then back to the islands for more fun, adventure and stories. Stay tuned.

Looking forward to a visit with the Duster!

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  1. chris


    Geez, I hope you’re OK. 🙁 And that you had a Pain Killer on Solomans Island!

  2. Warren


    Randy/Nancy – Hi! Great to see you on your trip to Iowa and thanks again for the great cookout at your folks! Interesting to read about your travels and finger injury in detail. Sounds like a real adventure just getting to the hospital & doctor. Hope things have worked out with the healing.
    Thanks for reminding us about this website – it is great reading!

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