Author Archives: wsea61

Salt and Sea, Sublime

Little Bit of Everything off San Jose del Cabo, BCS

Little Bit of Everything off San Jose del Cabo, BCS

As I drove into the parking lot, I could smell the pungent aroma. Of kelp on the beach, decimated sea critters pounded into oblivion by the large swell, and the small reef exposed at this low tide. There were two dozen kids in the water, and not all of them were surfers. There were people on the beach in various stages of dress, with varied accoutrements of fun nearby. There were body surfers suiting up, photographers with numerous lenses, sand explorers with metal detectors scanning the beach, and others just watching. I waited for the sun to peek around the point.

There’s a nice swell moving into the area today and tomorrow resulting from the Pineapple Express pounding the Bay Area. I watch as the body surfers exit the water, hair in their eyes and snot running, grins of exhilaration that will take hours to fade stuck to their faces. They remind me of the years spent at Zuma, Mom on the beach and us kids in the water until we were forced to get out. To me, there was nothing like that lift the swell gives you as it goes by, or the delayed “water quake ” as you hunkered on the bottom, waiting for that bigger wave to pass through. I always got out sunburnt, salty, and grinning knowing I was going to sleep well that night.

There are youngsters on the beach with camera outfits that cost more than my car. Parents proudly watch, watchers gauge the wave height vs their own courage, and gray whales and sailboats wander by offshore. Whitewater shoots in the air, and a turquoise-jade colored wave reflects the sun shining through it.

Many go to Church this Sunday morning. I’m already there.

What’s Next…

Where's (Who's) Wendy??

  Where’s (Who’s) Wendy??

Wendy 4

Hi Everyone!

It’s that time again, time for an update on what the heck is going on.  But first, where the heck am I in the above photos?  This was a really fun women’s sailing team I was invited to play on, and I had a great time.  We basically got together once or twice a year for a number of years, with the primary goal of competing in the Women’s One Design National Championships held in Long Beach by Long Beach Yacht Club.  We sailed the newer Catalina 37s, a flat decked shell of a boat that was pretty much designed specifically for LA/LB Inner Harbor by Catalina Yachts.  LBYC has the only hulls of this design.  The Congressional Cup is sailed in these boats.  They’re pretty fun to sail, and we always had a great time.  I think the best we did was a second or third overall.  Fun times, and oh, so long ago…

Now, back to the future.  The future is a bit brighter at the moment.  City of Hope and my new trial medication are doing amazing things at the moment.  Some of you may know I have chest tubes, one for each lung that I drain daily.  When the Crizotinib was working, I would drain maybe 600cc from the right and 300cc from the left lung, the fluid coming from my general state of homeostasis.  That means I was losing almost a liter a day of fluid, in addition to the normal methods of losing fluid from breathing and peeing.  When the Crizotinib stopped working, my fluid production went up to 600cc on the left, and 1300cc on the right, and that’s alot of water!  Yikes, we gotta slow this down!  The fluid production was an indicator of the tumor’s increased activity, and this thing was running a marathon!

City of Hope’s Pulmonary Oncology Co-chair, Dr. Karen Reckamp, started me on a clinical trial with a new medication that’s effectiveness has been proven, but the dosage hadn’t been determined yet.  So, I know I’m getting the drug, and we’re just playing with the dose.  Initially I started 2 weeks ago on three pills a day, and did very well.  I had been warned of some daunting side effects, but I didn’t have any and was grateful.  The second week, my dose was doubled, and I feel it.  If I pre-medicate with an anti-nausea drug, I do okay, and just feel ‘puny’ for a few hours.  If I don’t, look out.  Needless to say, I pre-medicate!  My tumor seems to have settled down and the fluid production has essentially stopped (no fluid on the right and 300cc after 3-4 days on the left).  My breathing has improved immensely, and I’m looking forward to some pulmonary physical therapy.  Whodathunkit???  Maybe I’ll get on that standup board again soon…

The next bit of news I never thought I’d be writing.  I’m swallowing the anchor, as they say.  The boat has been very difficult for me to maintain, and those of you who know Willow, know she’s pretty small inside.  Pack a hospital room worth of medical equipment and supplies in the salon, and she’s turned into packrat conditions.  On a boat!  I hate that she’s so stuffed with crap!  I hate that I can’t maintain her in the manner she deserves!  I need a place to put this crap, and I need to have Willow shine again.  I’ll be moving into a nearby apartment on Valentine’s Day, and will be contracting out some paint and varnish work to some local BMWs.  As soon as the work is done, Willow will be on the market, and I hope another sailor will buy her so they can continue to sail the dream.  (I can’t believe it, but I’m choking up right now.  Reality sucks…)  Her systems are in fine condition, and she has many years of safe sailing in her.  Additionally, since I’m fighting the City for work comp status for this illness, I’m currently financially responsible for my medical treatment.  Yes, I have insurance, but the 20% I’m responsible for needs to hit 12K before I’m covered 100%.  That’s alot of extra money for me, and the sale of Willow will be very helpful.  It’s just time, you know?

I have lived on boats for over 30 years.  My questions are amazing, and some people think I’ve been in jail.  What’s a cable box, why do I need a router?  I have not had a true bed for decades.  Willow and her predecessors have given me years of fine times in the school of hard knocks (on the head, by the boom), and they have given me miles and miles of fine sailing in amazing locales, both near and far.  I am truly thankful to have been able to live the life I did, albeit a bit different, and have the stories I have to tell.  I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to have been able to just go and do the things I have done, and I’m grateful to know it.  It’s time to let someone else live that life, and for me to make a left turn in traffic to the new route I’ve chosen to take.

Have fun Everybody, and keep doing good things!  Much, much love, and best fishes!!!!!

New Beginnings

Punta Mita Sunset Courtesy of Nancy Novack, S/V Shindig

Punta Mita Sunset, Courtesy of Nancy Novak, S/V Shindig

Hi Everyone, and Happy Dang New Year to y’all!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season, and it was full of fun, family and friends for you. It’s never been a favorite time of year for me, and this year was no different. There were some “issues” with my new doctor, and he has been fired. More on that later. The beneficial part to all of that is I have moved my care to City of Hope, and couldn’t be happier. They have not forgotten what it’s like to be ill, and they definitely get it.

I am taking part in a clinical trial, helping researchers get the dosing down for a new targeted chemo. I’d tell you the drug’s name, but it’s just a number at the moment, and I wouldn’t want to have to hurt you. The drug is in small pill form, and I take 3-6 per day, depending on the study parameters. There is a daunting list of side effects others have experienced, but I am so fortunate to say, I have had none to date. For the first month, I go to CoH once a week, and after that, it’s once a month for study purposes.

The standards CoH seems to follow are standards that seem to have fallen by the wayside as patients are no longer referred to as patients, but as customers or clients. I believe insurance companies are spearheading this as they strive to remove decision making from physicians and instead give it to their own “medical boards.” Having played with that aspect last month, I can attest to the frustration it brings. The staff at CoH actually answer their phones, and if they don’t know something, they go find the answer and get back to you in short order. I am always greeted with a smile, and as the campus is new to me, there is no shortage of helpful volunteers ready to escort me to my destination. My doctors and nurses are very responsive to my questions and comments. One nurse took the brunt of a mini meltdown last week, and greeted me with a huge smile and hug on my next visit. After the issues with my other doc, I felt I was free-falling through space; CoH caught me, and has lifted me up. As corny as it sounds, they’ve lifted me up with hope.

The doctor (I use that term loosely) I saw last month nearer to home is someone who should retire, I believe. I saw him once early in the month, and we scheduled up some scans and blood work. Before any of those could be completed, I began having episodes of sudden onset shortness of breath. When I would call him, his response would be to go to the ER, but he never wanted to follow up. The 23rd of the month was the day my scans were scheduled. That morning, I really couldn’t breathe. I called him again to see if he wanted to see me in the office. He answered that he didn’t have anything else to offer me, and thought it was time for me to just go into hospice. Over the phone! With no recent scan or blood work, he just gave up on me. Needless to say, I was crushed. Fortunately, my sister Missy found a palliative care group out of Hoag Memorial, and they were very responsive. Turns out my shortness of breath was related to a very rapid heart rate that would come on without warning. The palliative care group prescribed some effective medication to help with my breathing, and my cardiologist is monitoring my heart rate closely. The week after Christmas I followed up with this oncologist, and he said, “Whoops! Maybe you aren’t ready for hospice yet…” Sorry, you’re fired.

So, I’m starting new with new doctors, new drugs, and a new facility. This helps give me a renewed feeling of hope that I’m on the right track. Thank you, Erich, for getting me in to the City of Hope so quickly, and thank you, Missy, for Dr. Nguyen and the CARES program at Hoag. There are not enough thanks for me to send your way…

I hope everyone has a great 2015, and never forget who loves ya!

Merry Christmas, World!

Good morning, Everyone, and Merry Dang Christmas to you!

Please know I mean no disrespect when I wish you a Merry Christmas. I wish you all the happiness, joy, peace, and goodness to each other it’s always meant. At least in my lifetime. The simplicity of my wish to you is that you have a beautiful day filled with family, friends and fun. Throw in some love, joy and peace, and where can you go wrong?
Throw a little goodness toward someone down on their luck, and it’ll come back to you in ways unrealized for years. I guess my wish for you is to share those beautiful and joyful things in the ways I know you can. Be good people; we need you! And never forget, who loves ya???

Best Fishes, Much Love, and Merry Christmas!!!

PS Many thanks to Santa Erich for getting me into City of Hope. I didn’t think I’d been that good a girl… Thank you, E!!!

After the Rain

I love the rain. Always have, always will. Probably because it was greeted with some joy, some vital need recognized by all living in the semi-arid coastal plain of Southern California. The transformation it brings the area, the grays, the greens, the sounds of staccato on the doghouse roof and decks. I love it all. Especially puddle stompin’!

We had a pretty good downpour overnight, but Willow stayed nice and dry for me. It was good being up listening to the rainwater pound the boat. I know my rigging is sparkling clean, decks run clear, and canvas covers free from bee pollen. I’ll put those covers away later today and hoist the sails here in the slip. I’d tell you I was hoisting them to dry them out, which is true, but I really want to see if I can still do it! Andrew’s coming down to help me take apart my propane fireplace element. Every now and then it needs a good cleaning to keep it running, and part of that is using a compressor. I ain’t got no compressor and Andrew does, so it’ll be good! (Turns out I fixed the burner accidentally before Andrew arrived, so, we had to have a Happy Meal at Gen Kai instead. Curses, sushi!!!)

I’ve been playing with getting a different care plan started. I was frustrated leaving UCLA with a “See ya in 3 months” wave. What am I doing here? Is 90 days with no intervention gonna cut it, especially when you keep telling me how sick I am? I’ve done some homework, with help from amazing friends like Linda and Erich, and I found a new oncologist down here. No more driving 2 1/2 hours each way to Westwood numerous times a week. This new doc is UCLA based, and has direct access to my patient file, as well as some new ideas. It seems as my taking the crizotinib is spot on, but perhaps more monitoring should have been taking place. Maybe even some new drug therapy? Last week, I went to get an updated PET scan , some lab work and another echocardiogram. It was scheduled for a week and a half, but the day before the scan, the insurance denies the PET. What the? I was on the phone with them for over two hours but no luck. Cancelled. The follow up appointment the next day was cancelled, too, but not the echo or blood work. A request was resubmitted for plain ol’ CT scans with contrast, but that would take another 2 days for approval. With the end of the year winding down, my follow up to my follow up appointment is now the 30th. I’ll just be hanging in, waiting for the new year. With that taking up the end of the month, I was looking forward to enjoying some of the sunshine that comes after the rain…

Missy, Andrew and I drove on up to Lake Arrowhead for the weekend just to get outta Dodge, as they say. It’s been cool, overcast, but pretty dang silent, and everyone we’ve been in contact with has been way friendly. The cabin belongs to some friends of Missy’s, and is a simple, beautiful A-frame with lots of warming, natural light. It’s clean, neat, and furnished with beautiful old pine pieces from many childhoods. Mom came here this last year for her 80th birthday and loved it. Easy to see why.
We’ve cooked, taken the dogs for walks, had fires, chatted, nested, taken the dogs for walks, gone snow stompin,’ eaten waaaaaay too much food, and taken the dogs for some more walks. Missy prepared a tender rib roast last night with some roasted veggies, and it was all that was needed. It was a beautiful meal with beautiful people.

Beauty. I’m gonna wax philosophical now, but what happened to our beauty? Our simple beauty, nothing complicated, just simplicity, just beauty, just daily. I find myself making excuses that, oh, I’m only one person, and what the heck can I do? There are government entities exterminating forty three prospective teachers getting in the way of a socialite having a party, for pete’s sake. One hundred and forty eight students and teachers are assassinated in school because their fathers fight ‘for the wrong side.’ A fourteen year old girl stands up for education and is shot in the head for it. By the order of tribal elders, no less. We here in the US are so much better. Are occurrences being reported quicker with ‘better technology,’ or are things happening with more frequency? As for being held hostage by a stoopid movie, well, that was just brilliant. And it cannot happen again.

Over the years, whether it was at work or play, I remember one term that was repeated over and over again: basics. Simple. Basics. How hard does it have to be? Can I tap into that childhood vault, pulling those time-worn but infallible premises out to present day? Do unto others, you get what you give, turn the other cheek, don’t do that or your eyes’ll get stuck, respect your elders, water off a duck’s back, thou shalt not steal, covet, kill, etc… Can some of these old adages come back to haunt me into being a better person? Whenever I was stuck at work, or on the court, the only thing that bailed me out was sticking to the basics. I always liked to think skill and treachery did it for me, but nope, it was the basics! I think I’m gonna try the basics for awhile again. Slow things down, go a bit retro and take a step back. When things get complicated for me, I have found this to be pretty beneficial. Finish the year simply, and begin another one basically. I’ll be trying to fill them in ways that are meaningful for me, my family and my friends. If we all were to do that, wouldn’t at least our neighborhood be a better place? Simple. Basics.

I love you all.

Moving Along…


Hi Everyone!

The sun is shining, the breeze is breezing, and it’s a typical Southern California, late November, Santa Ana-y day. In other words, absolutely beautiful. I’ve been feeling pretty sporty the last two weeks, and I owe it all to you! The phone calls, visits, texts, emails and blog comments are so very uplifting to me, and I love each and every one. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have increased my walking distance daily, and that feels good. For those power walkers thinking in terms of miles, hah!!! I’m talking in terms of feet and yards! It’s all good though, because I can really see an increase in distance on a steady basis. I’m tempted to do the Turkey Trot 10K tomorrow here in Dana Point. Really, okay, not really…

My physical strength and endurance grow daily, and of that, I am grateful. I’m not ready to just lay down in bed. I’m able to do a little more here on Willow, like stay ahead of some of my daily chores. I am impressed at how low this illness can take you. I am equally impressed that I’m slowly rising above those low depths and moving on up the line. Mark, a friend from the fire department, paddled by one day. He came aboard and we must’ve sat and talked for at least 4 hours. We made overly optimistic plans to do an early morning SUP paddle in a day or two. Uh, I had to cancel that one. What in the heck was I thinking? BUT! Give me a couple of more weeks of feeling like this, and maybe a short, slow paddle could be an incredible Christmas present to me!!!

I’ve been gardening, meeting with lots of friends for lunch, taking care of appointments and errands, and generally just hanging in there. I don’t do dinners because it’s dark by five o’clock. And dark means bedtime. I know, such a dork… Sitting down below on Willow all day long is one of the worst things I could do. I need the sunshine. I need the people, the conversation, or just plain outdoors. One of the more fun things to do is to listen in on some conversations. At one local beach, I was listening to one homeless man instruct the other that the bible “tells us to beat and murder women.” He was adamant, and apparently, was quoting specific verses, though I can tell you, the nuns never taught me that one! It must be in the (very) Old Testament. At another spot, I heard a man convincingly tell another that Costa Rica is a sovereign state belonging to the United States, and that’s why gringos can own property there. That one I had to look up, and the man had the info half correct. Costa Rica is a sovereign state, but it doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s a member of a Caribbean group, and that’s about it. I’ve listened to my boat neighbor talking about Mexico in ways and in terms I’ve never heard, and none of it was good. I won’t even comment on my participation on a board of directors of a nearby mobile home park. What I hear at those meetings is mind-boggling to me. All of this makes me remain grateful for having a working brain, and the ability to listen to some of the common sense it bombards me with. Note to self: Not only do you have to take care of your body, but your brain’s pretty dang important, too! I’m happy to have its capabilities, and will try to heed its warnings!

That said, I hope you all have a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving! For those of you working the holiday, I’m grateful to you, and may the leftovers be plenty, and the creamed turkey on puff pastry be just as good as Mom used to make!

Best Fishes!

The California Riviera

The California Riviera

I’m sitting aboard Willow, feet up, computer on my lap, cannula prongs making my nose itch, and I wonder what to write. With this blogging stuff, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out. You may become inspired, but in my case, it’s usually at the wrong time when I’m doing something else, and then I forget the inspiring theme. I look to my friends’ blogs, usually voyaging themed, and find I lose myself for hours imagining the places they’ve been and things and people they’ve seen. I’d counter with a similar type entry, detailing my latest passage, repair, or cat-wrangling story. No more passage-making or repairs, and the cats are enjoying the leisure life at Mom’s.

The last week or two have been very difficult for me. I really thought about not writing about it, but then I figured, what the hell? I’ve read about so and so’s courageous battle or graceful journey against or through cancer. I absolutely cannot speak for anyone else, but I see nothing courageous or graceful about it. Cancer absolutely sucks. I am scared spitless (insert sound alike word here) of what the future holds. I have had so much trouble breathing, and it wasn’t really bad, that when it does get bad, what is THAT gonna be like? I have termed it the ‘drowning fish’ and I want no part of it. The body part affected most right now are my lungs, which I use only about 5-6 thousand times a day. Now that use is very conscious to me. When it’s a bad breathing day, I am aware of the effort for every single breath. Put a cold on top of that, and it’s downright exhausting. Last week, I caught a cold, and was laid flat. Tired, with nothing else on the list but taking the next rattling breath, I found myself in quite a rut. Family and friends reached out, but I just couldn’t grab their hands. Fully aware that I need to take those hands, I continued denying their reach.

Friday, I finally went out and met with Mom. She needed some cooking items, so we went out looking for them. It was good to be out and about. Saturday, Missy and Andrew had me up for dinner. After a great meal, it was good visiting and talking with them. They both came down to Willow Sunday morning to help with some chores. That afternoon, Sally drove down from Ventura to visit, and it was GOOD. We spent the afternoon at Aliso Creek Beach, sitting in the sun, enjoying a shaved ice, and walking slowly on the beach and walkway. It was so good for me to get out amongst the living; watching small toddlers chasing seagulls and pigeons, listening to the screams as swimmers jumped in the very short, steep, and cold waves, seeing whales blow offshore and watching boats and paddlers make their way along the coast. Life goes on, and always will. My little stay here is just a tiny blip, but what a stay it’s been!

I’m getting out of the rut with help and moving on to whatever’s next. This morning I woke up to a bright and shiny new day, and it’s good. I can’t deny it, and frankly don’t want to. I’ll go out and do something, anything, to take advantage of the day. I’ll put off the drowning fish to another time, and be grateful for what I’m doing now. I think for me, at this exact point, today is what matters right now. Think I’ll grab it.

Never forget how much I love you all.

Head to Weather…

Those familiar with the sailing world know what that phrase means, “head to weather.” You’re putting the bow of your boat as close to windward as possible, or into the ‘weather’ that is working hard to send you leeward of your course. This heading sends you into the wind, seas, and usually the swells, so it tends to be a bit more of an uncomfortable ride. It tends to be colder, wetter, bumpier and swellier, adding stress to the vessels tender points, and stress to the sailor, too.

I’ve got my bow pointing straight into the weather right now. September 9th, I wound up in the ER for what I thought was a stupid asthma attack. Turns out my asthma attack had morphed into lung cancer, stage 4 at that. A few days later I was at UCLA, admitted to their cardio floor. There for just over a week, I had a bronchoscopy, lung biopsy, pulmonary lavage, PET and regular CT scans, a few echocardiograms, and was sent home. I returned just 24 hours later in a bad way. My pericardial effusion had escalated to full on tamponade, so I was sent on up to the ICU with a pit-stop in the cath lab for a pericardial centesis. The next day, a couple of PE’s, or blood clots were found in my left lung, so an IVC filter was placed to keep them and any others away from my heart, brain and lungs. The following day saw a lot more fluid on the right side, so a chest tube was inserted to drain that pesky fluid. That night I wasn’t doing so well, and intubation was considered, then rejected (of which I am thankful). 40 lpm of O2 was being sent in a grand vortex of wind down my nostrils to try to keep my body saturated. It was a difficult time. Finally, a decision was made to get me on some treatment to slow this tumor and the pesky fluid it manufactures down. I was started on Taxol IV, and we were shooting for the best. About 10 minutes later, one of the oncologists pretty much ran into my room and told the nurse to stop the Taxol. The molecular findings of my biopsy were finally in, and I mutated! Woo Hoo! Only about 2-4% of people with lung cancer have one or more of these mutations, and I was one of them. What this means to me is, I can be started on a targeted chemotherapy, and the drug of choice at the moment is called crizotinib. I take this big pill twice a day, and it’s job is to target the cancer cells themselves, isolate them, cut them off from moving and nourishment, and thus render them the ineffective little &;$*#2@ that they are. My mutation is an alk4, and this drug has proven to be a very good alk4 inhibitor. So, we started a day or two later on that therapy, and slowly but surely, my condition improved.

I stayed in the ICU a few more days, and was finally weaned off O2 completely, except when walking or sleeping. After moving to the pulmonary wing, I had a more easily managed chest tube put in, one that I was responsible for draining on a daily basis. A few days later, I was discharged.

Being back on Willow is wonderful. Such a beautiful, restful spot for me, full of dreams and memories and sea miles. But it’s hard, too. I find I can’t keep up with the very routine maintenance that needs to be done. My energy is sapped just getting out of the bunk and brushing my teeth. It takes alot of energy to take my pills (12 of them) and drain my lung daily. I’ve found it very difficult to eat anything, and that serves to take my energy. One of the medications that protects my heart drops my blood pressure, thus taking energy. The diarrhea from the chemo takes my energy. I find myself staring out my portholes thinking this isn’t good for the boat and it’s certainly not good for me. After two weeks of outpatient appointments, and feeling worse daily, I was sent back to the hospital, this time Santa Monica.

Originally admitted to the oncology floor, after 10 minutes there, it was clear my breathing wasn’t good enough to be able to stay. I was sent up to the telemetry unit and put on a morphine drip. The next morning, after some CT scans, a chest tube was placed in the left lung, so at least I had a matching set. Alot of fluid was pulled from it, and it made quite a difference. The placement of the tube in the left side was much more painful than the tube in the right side, and it kept me down for a number of days. My last few days on the telemetry unit were quite difficult, and on the last day, after being accused of “pain-medication seeking behavior,” I’d had it. I told the nurses I had no more pain, and was signing myself out AMA. Fortunately, at this exact moment, one of the oncology nurses arrived to give me my chemo pill and asked what happened. Within hours, I was down on the oncology floor. Within 2 days, the pain resolved, and I was off any pain meds. I would pre-medicate when I was going to drain one of my tubes, but that was it. The next day, I was told I would be released and arranged for Linda, my great partner on Rescue 10, to come on down and give me a ride home. All we had to do was drain that left lung and I was free! Except the tube was clogged. ARGHHHHHHHH! Another night in with more attempts, xrays, and CT scans to work on for the next day. I just wanted to go home. 5 of the last 7 weeks I’d spent ‘in the big house,’ and I was ready to get outta there. The next morning found me up early, and the nursing staff was ready to try draining that tube again. After using 3 bottles, SUCCESS!! A big ooey-icky (official medical term) clog finally passed on down the tube, and I was sprung!

I’ve been home for 2 days, and the future has lots of questions in it. Questions for me as to how to organize the next phase of my life, and questions for my docs as to what the heck is going on, and what the heck are we gonna do about it. My goal is to feel just a little bit better than I do right now, and to breathe better than I’m breathing at the moment. Both I feel are attainable; I just need help with the plan to make it happen.

I wouldn’t have made it this far if not for my amazing family and friends, old and new, who bolster me up daily with their love and encouragement. I’d love to try and list you all, but my addled brain would have me missing one or two, and I cannot dishonor anyone like that. Just know how much I love and care for you. You’re the BEST!

What a Strange and Amazing Place This Is…

Okay, this one is a pretty mind-blowing post for me, and I’m still not sure where to put everything. These are the facts as I know them, and knowing them for less than 3 hours is pretty numbing still. A bunch of you know I spent more than 20 years with the LAFD. Okay, I’ll admit it was 20 years and ONE DAY more, but still. I’m dang proud of that one day. After, I worked for the Avalon Harbor Department for 5 years as a harbor patrol officer, and then went on up to Santa Barbara and worked for them for another 5 years doing similar work. Loved every minute. After that, I was DONE! I spent about 6 months preparing Willow to head south, and south I went. Most of you have read of those adventures. Loved every minute of that, too!

I’ve been home about 5-6 months, and noticed recently my breathing was not quite right. Some of you know I spent a few weeks working at The Pile, NYC, immediately after 9/11. When I got home from New York, I was having a lot of trouble breathing, and went for care. Fortunately, I have been followed since then, most recently with the good folks at UCLA. I’ve been doing quite well, and been seeing my doc every 6 months for checks and follow ups. My doctor transferred to Texas and Rice University, so in August I was seen once by an overwhelmed young doctor from the East Coast. He conferred with his attending, and decided to add another special inhaler to the mix. I was to follow up again in October, having a pulmonary functions test first.

Shortly after the August appointment, I began coughing alot, and started to wheeze. The inhalers just didn’t cut it. I called my young physician and explained that with the cough, I was having right-sided chest pain. He shrugged it off to musculoskeletal pain, and still didn’t want to see me until October. Okay. My wheezing progressed, and I denied it, not wanting to clutter an ER with just another asthmatic. Today, I couldn’t hack it anymore, and went on in. They were wonderful, and after 2 nebulizer treatments, I was sent off for a chest xray. I had a third nebulizer treatment and some ‘roids while the xray cooked. An hour or so later, feeling much better, I sheepishly asked if I could go home. The great ER doc came in and said, “Tell me more about your chest, and when was your last chest xray?” I answered my last film was when I got the plate put in my arm after I busted my humerus in 2010, and it was normal. Well, it wadn’t no’mal no mo’. So, I was set up for a CT, and that confirmed it. My right lung is just full of a crappy, big ol’ tumor, and it kinda sucks.

I’m beginning to process it all right now, and have the worst headache doing so. I’ll have a bronchoscopy tomorrow or Thursday, and since the tumor’s compressing my right mainstem bronchus, it should be pretty easy to get a biopsy at the same time. With that information, it should speed up the determination of where I go next. Whew! Yeah, I’ve cried a little, haven’t told my mom, and shrugged my shoulders at the wonder of it all.

A new and different adventure is in front of me now, and I think I’ll just approach it as I did with sailing:
GO FOR IT! Or, with my favorite paddling motto, SHADDUP AND PADDLE!! Don’t worry, I don’t give in that easy…

And if anyone doubted it, I love you all. Keep doing good things!!! (I’ll let you know what happens…)

Present and Past Tense

Stack of Willow's and Zapatito's Logs?????????????????????????????????????

I don’t know what got into me the other day, but I decided to pull the recent logs I’ve had in the ship’s library. Encompassing the time I owned Zapatito and then Willow, the years have flown by. Strangely enough though, I distinctly recall actually writing some of the entries: the time, place, conditions, destinations. It brought so many great memories back to me, and I enjoyed reminiscing immensely.

Handwriting rules the day still.  Initially, I even used Polaroids in some of my entries.  Time flies...

Handwriting rules the day still. Initially, I even used Polaroids in some of my entries. Time flies…

The book that’s in the left lower corner belongs to Zapatito, a Pacific Seacraft Flicka.  I lived on that boat for a bit over 4 years, and loved every minute!  Hull number 7, she sailed from the States to Hawaii, through the South Pacific to New Zealand, and BACK, on her own hull.  She was a simple and elegant sail, balanced and trim, and sailed herself countless miles.  She had a very effective windvane, super simple, that I re-built during a long haulout.  I replaced or restored everything on her, and added a few features along the way as I learned, except for the cushions down below.  I just didn’t get to that point.  I purchased her for $16K and sold her for $25K.  The difference in price was definitely put into the boat in newer and better gear, but how many times do you get to get out of a boat in dollars what was put into it?  ‘Tito cleaned up really well, and the buyer became a great friend as he introduced the boat to his soon-to-be wife.  It was such fun to see something you’ve worked hard on and enjoyed so much find a new owner who really appreciated the same things.  I lost track of Zapatito about 6 years after I sold her.  She had been re-sold a few times more, and I saw her back at the Dana Point guest dock in really sad condition.  After that, I don’t know…

Zapatito in her Christmas finery...

Zapatito in her Christmas finery…

Zapatito's windvane drawing that I used during a rebuild.

Zapatito’s windvane drawing that I used during a rebuild.

Polaroids of the interior refit of 'Tito, fresh paint and varnish on everything...  Polaroids!

Polaroids of the interior refit of ‘Tito, fresh paint and varnish on everything… Polaroids!

In 1993, I sailed from Maui to Victoria, BC, on the Huntingford one-off 43′ ketch Saramin.  I met the Detwieler Family when I took my first boat, Samgeo, up to Santa Barbara for the first time.  My cat’s leash tripped their little girl, Tania, and the rest was history.  Francoise is an artist with a paint brush, and can turn the ugliest craft into an elegant and flowing, graceful boat with a few weeks of intense work.  She’s also an amazing sailor.  If I recall, she met her husband Steve up in Canada, and they married and had Tania.  On the boat, during winter!  Pretty hardcore and pure.  Steve was the second captain on commercial ships, freighters and tankers delivering goods and fuels to the world.  He was also a bush pilot in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, taking hunters and fishermen to their game.  I met them, as I said, in Santa Barbara, and we hit it off.  I wound up crewing with Francoise as Saramin was on her way up to Canada for sale.  Steve and Tania stayed with friends and family in Maui until after we arrived in BC.  I learned so much from Francoise, not just the complete sailing part, but how to be a steward for the seas.  We ate simply and well, sailed the boat well, only had one storm on the way up, and had 6 days of dense fog.  I remember feeling unwell the last few days, and now know I was pretty dehydrated.  I read that Francoise’s back began to give her quite a bit of trouble, and I’m betting being low on fluids was responsible a bit there, too.  This was my first long, offshore passage, and aside from missing my family, I loved it.  Our navigation tools were a sextant and a twice daily satnav flyover, only.  We had an old weatherfax, and an SSB receiver for voice weather forecasts.  We’d tape record those and extrapolate them onto a chart later when we weren’t so busy trying to copy things down.  Ah, memories…

My own written log of the trip from Maui to Victoria BC, doublehanded with Francoise.

My own written log of the trip from Maui to Victoria BC, doublehanded with Francoise.

Then, there’s Willow.  Ah, Willow.  I bought Willow in 1997 in Honolulu.  I was working for the Fire Department still, and had the ability to get some lengthy segments of time off in order to prepare her for the trip home.  Willow’s a Pacific Seacraft Orion 27, and also was featured in various sailing magazines as an ad for Pacific Seacraft.  When I bought her, she was 14 years old, and simply equipped.  She had an Aries windvane, a HAM radio, a radar detector, and a VHF radio.  I added an autopilot and GPS in Hawaii, and once home, she’s had virtually everything replaced but for the mast, and depth sounder.  I get alot of laughs regarding the depth sounder, but it’s simple, works very well, and I don’t see the need, for my uses, for a unit that sees more than 200′ in depth.  There are three and a half logs detailing the maintenance and use of Willow, and it’s enlightening to read of the work done, additions made and deleted from her. 

Willow's logs are the large brown, dark blue, small sketch book, and half of the light green book.

Willow’s logs are the large brown, dark blue, small sketch book, and half of the light green book.

All of this reading has brought me up to today, with Willow now 31 years old.  One of these days, I’ll add up the sea miles she’s shared with me, and tally up the friends I’ve made through this amazing medium.  I’ve saved a drawing and short essay a friend’s daughter made for me after she and her family visited me on Willow.  The text reads, ” The Beach.  Today we went to the beach.  We went to get some furniture from Wendy.  She is a paramedic that works with my dad.  She has a cat that has no teeth.  Wendy lives on a nice boat.  She has lived there for 13 years. I have been there before, and swam in the ocean as well.  It was very cold.  The End.”  On the lower half of the page is Christine’s rendition of Willow, and I’ll treasure this always.  It’s become my page marker in the log…

Christine's essay and drawing of Willow.  Priceless...

Christine’s essay and drawing of Willow. Priceless…

I hope everyone enjoys August, stays cool, and keeps their keels wet and off the beach!  Keep doing good things!