As I mentioned in a past blog, we had the crane motor fail while in the Bahamas. This is a major setback while living on the hook, as we now have no transportation from the boat to the shore aside from our kayaks.
We had planned to spend a few additional weeks in the Bahamas, and then head across directly to York River in Virginia, to get a big jump on our northern trip. But with the crane breakdown, we now needed to head to Ft Pierce Florida, where the contractor who works on the steelhead crane is located.
We had a preventative maintenance list including rebuilding the lifting ram on the crane, and re-tubing the dinghy planned for the end of the summer, so we simply decided to bring some of our projects forward.
I contacted the Silvio, the guy who Clark on Roam had recommended for replacement tubes on our tender, and ordered new inflatable tubes for the dink.
At first Jenny and I were pretty upset, that our northbound plans were now being changed, but then we realized that this is really what this cruising lifestyle is all about. We just rearrange the plans, and hope to still get to the same places, just at different times.
And so we resigned ourselves to spending some time doing some maintenance and bringing upgrades forward here in Ft. Pierce. Even to make the most of it.
We like Ft Pierce for a number of reasons. First, the cost is much better that further south, West Palm, Stewart, or Ft Lauderdale.
Secondly, Ft Pierce is still close enough to trade persons so that we can still call in experts as needed, and as the marina is ½ the price of Old Port Cove, we can afford to drive around more to do what is needed.
Ft Pierce has a nice village right alongside the docks, with a variety of good restaurants, a great farmers market each weekend, and a car rental place only a few miles away-and they pick us up.
And so we settled in at Ft Pierce, arranging to get Dennis of Bullhead Marine out ASAP, to begin the crane work. The new motor for the crane arrived a few days after we docked, and Dennis put it on, and removed the ram that needed to be rebuilt.
I contacted Silvio, and made final arrangements for the tube to arrive with his guy, after the crane was repaired, so we could lift the dinghy into the water to have the tubes attached.
The list of chores grew, as did the list of spares to be shipped to us. The first few days, I was online almost constantly ordering parts and replacements to take advantage of our stop.
The weeks flew by, and the boat looked better and better. We took on over 1000 gallons of diesel fuel, and Southern Star’s waterline settled back down 5-6 inches. I changed oil in the main and generator, I drove to Palm Beach and replaced the generators spare alternator.
Since arriving here we have:
Received our US Cruising permit.
Re-provisioned for the next 4 months, food and wine. (thank goodness for Costco)
Replaced the crane motor,
Repaired the crane lifting ram.
Have new tubes built for dinghy.
Re-ordered generator and
Main engine spares.
Replacing anchor light with LED and photo cell.
Replaced stern light with LED.
Received new telescoping ladder to reach anchor light, and stack in general.
Had carpets steam cleaned and protected.
Found paints and prep materials for aluminium window frames
Removed and cleaned and polished BBQ grill
Refilled propane tanks
Had 2 upholstery replacement quotes.. Ouch.
We spend so much time and boat units (money) that we easily forget one of the most important assets that also has to be maintained; ourselves. So we also decided to have a dermatologist look at a spot on my forehead which had grown and looked a bit angry. As it turns out this was one of the most important things that we did while in Florida.
Friends of ours, Bob and Mel Taylor of Istaboa, live in Jupiter Florida, which is only an hour or so from Ft Pierce, and therefore have lots of local knowledge told us about several dermos in the area. We called around to try to find one that could accommodate us at short notice, and found Dr. Hillmann could see me.
Happily we were able to make an appointment for a week or so out, and we rented a car saw the Dr. and met Bob and Mel for dinner. Dr. Hillmann, Bob calls Dr. Doom, bluntly pointed out that I was long overdue for some skin cancer considering my lifestyle, and she was right. She discovered the spot that we had our concerns about, was a squamous cell carcinoma. She took a biopsy of the spot and another dark spot on my forehead, and two more on my lower back.
It was a hard hitting dose of reality, to actually hear the word, cancer. Even skin cancer is a scary thought. She is very of matter of fact, blunt even, and not particularly empathetic. She suggested waiting for the biopsy results to then make a plan of what to do, most assuredly requiring some form of surgery.
And so we had a nice pizza dinner with Bob and Mel, and I was afraid that our cruising life may change. What if the cancer has spread to other places, Dr. Doom was a bit negative in offering the diagnosis. Dr. Doom warned me that it needs to be dealt with in matter of weeks, not months and would require close care and follow up.
As we suspected, the biopsy came back with the squamous cell carcinoma positive, the other three spots’ biopsy would come back later in the week. And so we began plans to take care of this. Dr. Doom referred me to a plastic surgeon to remove the squamous cell, as it was too large for her to undertake.
Jenny and I discussed this and we checked into Dermos in Virginia, where we planned to go anyway, and out of the hurricane restrictions of our insurance company.
We book an appointment in Newport News and contacted our travel insurance, in the very unlikely prospect that it would be covered.
Long story short, we were advised by ALLIANZ, our insurance company in NZ (actually an Australian insurance firm) that the treatment was covered; they would take care of the payment directly.
BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALLIANZ. GREAT COVERAGE AND GREAT SERVICE. THANKS SO MUCH.
And so we made plans to get to York River Yacht Haven in Gloucester Point, Virginia as soon as possible.
One week after my MOHLS surgery, the doctor took my stitches out (14) and told me I was free to go, with a follow up in 3 months upon our return south. Woo hoo, with a cool soon to be scar over my left brow, we are off cruising again. I now use sunscreen much more religiously, as well as long sleeve sun protective t-shirts.
And so we are now making our way belatedly to the north, still hoping to make it to Nova Scotia in time for our friend Gordon to meet up with us. Weather gods please be kind.