Change On The Horizon

July 2018
La Cruz Marina, North of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

In two days, we have a 9am appointment at the marina boatyard to repair a leaky propeller shaft. 

Sunday, we started preparing our home and sailboat La Vita, for her date. First, we had to remove an acre of shade canvas.

La Vita & Shade Canvas

I worried if we’d either be injured or fail. Rick’s limited mobility from fused disks in his neck and spine plus the searing tropical sun have conspired to make the job nearly impossible. Did I mention we are in our 70’s?

My anxiety grew when Rick groaned with shoulder pain as he stretched his arms to release buckles connected to the mast.

I needed to do my share, so I set to work and unfastened belts, straps, and twists. Once the shade cloth was loose, we shoved the canvas toward the bow and tied it to the life lines.

The next day, we had more fun in the blazing heat. Our dock lines were tied to our neighboring slip and had to be removed. With calculated self control, Rick worked his 6-foot frame into a crouched position and unwrapped the line from around a cleat.

Rick Unwrapping Line Around Cleat

To move to the next cleat, he’d push on his thigh and work himself to standing position. Sometimes he’d lean against the dock box to regain his equilibrium. I was onboard La Vita and powerless to lend a hand.

Rick Catching His Breath

We’re not complaining. We’re grateful! In 2016 the nerve running to Rick’s right thigh muscles was pinched so badly it atrophied. 

If Rick wanted to walk again, lumbar spinal fusion was his only option.

Rick’s Fused Lumbar Spine

Through sheer determination and over two years of physical therapy, Rick graduated from wheelchair, to leg brace & walker, to a cane.

Rick untied the lines and my job was to haul the lines onboard and stow them on deck. They were soggy with salt water and heavy. I was tired, stressed and pissed at my clumsiness.

The best I could do was tie them in an ugly wad and hope they didn’t slide back into the water.

The problem is the dripless shaft seal system. It’s cracked and leaking. The seal needs to be replaced; preferably out of the water.

Tuesday morning the panga tow boat arrived. Folks that promised help us were a no show.

Panga Tow

I went below and used the VHF radio to hail our friend Richard on s/v Eyes of the World. While I was on the radio, Rick nearly passed out as he untied the bow lines. Rick climbed onboard and sat behind the wheel to recover. Our friend arrived and he released final dock lines

The panga pulled us out of the slip and we glided at a sedate pace to the boatyard. I watched birds soar over head as we floated by our neighbors moored in their slips.

Marina La Cruz Neighbors

I opened my cell phone and called the young man that arranged for our haul out. I wanted to tell him we were on our way. He didn’t answer; apparently MIA (missing in action).

We needed someone to our catch lines and secure us to the dock.

Rick was busy watching the tow. I went below and hailed seguridad (security) on the VHF,

“Marina La Cruz seguridad, Marina La Cruz seguridad, this is La Vita.” 

When they answered I asked, “Can you meet us at the fuel dock?”

He replied, “The the fuel dock opens at 9:30.”

They speak limited English and I speak less Spanish. 

We needed someone on the dock to take our lines now, not at 9:30.

Rick was at the helm and used La Vita’s momentum from the tow to skillfully guide our approach to the dock.

I coiled a port line and prepared to toss it to any live soul on the dock. Without a engine, Rick had little control and could easily overshoot our approach. 

Thanks to our guardian angels, security arrived just in time to catch the line and tie it to the cleat. Next, a boatyard worker jumped on board and tossed lines to the travel life handlers.

The men were quick and efficient. Within 15 minutes, we were secured in the slings. A flood of relief washed over me. La Vita, Rick and I were lifted gently into the air. While suspended over the water didn’t dare twitch a muscle. 

La Vita in the Ways

Secured in the straps, the Travel Lift rolled us into the yard.

La Vita In Travel Lift

I asked myself, “Why do the angels always seem to appear at the 11th hour? Why do I get so worked up?” LOL

With La Vita in the yard and hanging in the lift’s embrace, a ladder was secured at the boarding gate. Fernando, our mechanic, climbed up the rungs and boarded La Vita.

Ladder in the Yard

Once onboard, Fernando opened the hatch and climbed into the lazarette.

Fernando In Lazarette

Fernando labored in the hole about two hours removing and installing the new dripless shaft seal. When the work was completed, the Travel Lift carried us stern first over land and lowered us into the water.

Catamaran at Fuel Dock

A catamaran was at the dock leaving us no room to tie up. After some grunting and shoving the dock workers moved the Catamaran making room for both of us.

The lift operator released the straps and La Vita floated free. Dock workers pulled our lines and secured us to the fuel dock.

Rick fired up the engine, Fernando checked the seal and reported more leaks! Oh, my heavens, now what? The seal came from the States! Importing a new part would take weeks.

Fernando, pulled tools out of his canvas bag and climbed back into the lazarette, He made minor adjustments and declared the shaft dry and the seal working properly.

Once again, I thought, “Why do I get so worked up?”

With Fernando on board, and Rick at the helm, we motored back to our slip.

While underway, I relaxed with a familiar sense of freedom I always felt when we glided over the seas.

My gazed drifted toward horizon and the smell of salt air filled my lungs.

Banderas Bay Horizon

Marina security was waiting at our slip and Fernando tossed the lines. Within minutes we were tied and secure. Fernando opened the hatch climbed into the compartment to double check for leaks around the shaft. He popped his head out of the hole and gave us the thumbs up. Everything was perfect.

Rick and I discussed his lost of balance and wevwracked our brains trying to figure out what was going on. Sure, his lower back and neck were fused and this contributed to his struggle to kneel and stand up. But why the unbearable breathlessness and near black out?

Finally it dawned on us, Rick was taking a new cough suppressant for a persistent cough caused by a chronic sinus allergy. We Google researched the interactions associated with the new medication.

We discovered shortness of breath and dizziness were sever side effects. Rick stopped taking the medication. Within three days, Rick breathing returned to normal.

Some may wonder why we live in Mexico on our sailboat.

Our answer: we’d rather celebrate brilliant sunrises and physically challenge ourselves than sit on a tacky couch and stare at the boob tube.

Sunrise at Marina La Cruz

We’ve read the ‘message in the bottle,’ and we are reminded our strength is being together, regardless where we call home. 

14 thoughts on “Change On The Horizon

  1. Wow, I loved that story. You inspire and give me hope. Make me feel like a whip too. I loved this “Some may wonder why we live in Mexico on our sailboat.

    Our answer: we’d rather celebrate brilliant sunrises and physically challenge ourselves than sit on a tacky couch and stare at the boob tube.”

    The Message in the Bottle bit was good too. I read it too early now I am trying to get back to the original message lol.

    1. Welcome Juneta to my blog,
      I am deeply touched by your comments. I’m riddle with self-doubt knowing our experience gave you hope is pure joy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  2. I’m glad that everything turned out for the best. I think that sometimes when we are faced with challenges outside of our daily routine, we can fall prey to anxiety and fear of the unknown. Remember those hardships and their successful conclusions. All of those successes are the result of faith, love, and trust in each other. Hopefully your guardian angels will continue to bring you peace of mind and beautiful sunsets.

    1. Hi Matt, I’m touched you visited and comments…you’re the first family to do so. You speak wisdom of someone that has faced challenges, too. I’m learning how to deal with the fear of the unknown. At this stage of my evolution I focus on solutions. Thank you and hugs to you and Jenny.

  3. Enjoyed reading your post, could see, feel and smell the sensations that we are missing while away from Balance. You two are so brave, persevering despite the challenges of living on a boat in your 70’s. I just read a book, You Can Change Your Mind, about the recent research into brain chemistry and the use of psychedelics, as well as their history. Scientists have found that we have a specific linked unit of brain structures that create feedback loops of anxiety. This was necessary when we were facing threats like saber tooth tigers, but just gets us into states of fear now that are unnecessary and counterproductive. How to break the loop is the key. Positive images, mantras, and routines that give faith and trust seem to be the way that many people have found, the trick is to be able to use them while the distressing situation occurs! Or you could try psychedelics, hahaha.
    On another tack (notice the nautical reference, smile), you may have seen on my FB page that I didn’t recover from the sinus infection that I got in La Cruz in March until June, so I sympathize with Rick and the yuck of a sinus infection, including coughing day and night. Glad you found the source of Rick’s symptoms of debilitation, but hope you can find a cure for the sinus infection. Whew, this turned into a long reply.
    We are now down at Nikk’s rental near Portland and I have us signed up for Internet! Maybe I will even post a blog.
    All the best to you and Rick.

    1. Hi Jan, Recently I read two personal accounts of extreme personal risk at sea. One had my full attention from beginning to end. The other was factual and dry. I’m encouraged that my account held your attention.

      I agree, fear can keep us in a loop. Through trial and error, I learn ing to focus on what I can do to solve the problem at hand with the end result in mind.

      I’m wondering if positive images, mantras, and routines are techniques to deal with post traumatic stress? I’m aware many of us live with PTS based on many past events in our past. I know these techniques help me cope day to day.

      Love your change of topics by changing tack. Excellent! Rick deals with sinus allergy, not an infection. He’s allergic to a local pollen. The biggest difference, is he’s not taking antibiotics. The focus is on drying the sinus.

      Regardless of the cause, the constant tickle in the throat and cough can drive a person (and partner) nuts!

      Next time you write, please post a link on our LCWG FB page. I’d love to read it.

  4. Wonderful story, and a beautiful ending. You guys have an angel on your shoulders. God Bless you.

    1. Hi Joe and Fran, What a delight to see your comment. Thank you heaps for taking time to read and share your thoughts.

  5. You’re a wonderful writer, Lynn. I felt your anxiety, wished I’d been there to help, but was awe by your tenacity. I’m don’t understand why things get tough but everything comes together in the eleventh hour either. Maybe because we are better for the trials we face. I don’t know. But I know that you inspire me to sit up high and face every obstacle with determination and calm. Bravo. So glad everything worked out. Miss you both very much.

    1. Hi My Good Friend Joylene!
      I just read your comment and wonder if I’ll ever think of myself as a wonderful writer. Maybe, self doubt is the part that forces me to learn and improve. You’re a brave soul, gifted writer, and a true friend. I can’t wait to see you again.

  6. Lynn & Rick, You two remind me of a song title, “Love will keep us together.” With that kind of love, all is possible. Your story inspired. I’ll tuck it away for those moments of struggle when I need a boost. Thank you. Can’t wait to see you and all the LCWG pals.
    Paul Edward Gainor/Ghislain (Gess) Malette

    1. Hi Paul, It was a challenge, that’s for sure. We were a bit rusty after dealing with medical issues for two years. My hope by sharing our trials and triumphs we can inspire and give hope to others. I’m looking forward to seeing you at our LCWG gathering, too. Please give my best to Gess.

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