After years of dreaming and planning, we are finally at the ‘Doers’ stage. In September, our Alden44 Lemanee and her crew of three set sail southbound. We were heading to San Francisco via Roche Harbour and Neah Bay.
After a wonderful Bon Voyage party, our family came down and tossed off our bowline. There was so much excitement and pride at all we had accomplished. Customs and obtaining our US cruising permit at Roche Harbour was a breeze. We anchored there for the night and headed to Port Angeles, where the next morning we were faced with a delay…a huge off-shore fog bank. The second morning in Port Angeles, Captain Dennis was hardly able to make it out of the V-Berth and needed assistance getting dressed. He had been sore and achy for about a month prior to the trip and had gone to the doctor, where he was told he had mild arthritis. The soreness was most likely from the extensive time he had spent in a harness, while up the mast installing our new Raymarine radar.
After a 30 minute shuffle up the dock and Dennis having no qualms about using the handicap bathroom, we stood on the deck and discussed our next move. We could still see BC and envision our Canadian Health System, so we made a very heartbreaking but easy decision to head home. Thankfully our crew member, Terry Hiebert, was on board and could take over the glorious sail north. With 20-30 knots on the starboard port quarter, we practically flew back to Saanich. We called ahead and got a slip at Canoe Cove, where we were able to clear Customs back into Canada.
We hailed a cab and dropped Terry off at the ferry terminal, then Dennis and I headed to the Saanich Hospital to find out what was happening to his joints. Many blood tests later, he was diagnosed with Poly Myalgia Rheumatica, an auto immune disease that attacks the large joints, ie; shoulders and hips. Dennis was prescribed medication that eased the pain in about 4 hours. We then had some decisions to make. With it being so late in the season, sailing south was out of the question, so it was with heavy hearts that we decided to dry dock Lemanee. We took care of her bottom and closed her up for the winter.
Having gotten rid of everything that we owned, we have been couch surfing, driving a borrowed car and traveling this winter. The warmth of SE Asia was good for Dennis’ joints, but the cold damp of Vancouver Island not so much.
It hasn’t been until now that I have been able to write this without my eyes filling with tears. Dennis is still on medication and hurts when the dose is reduced. We haven’t given up on our dream of sailing the South Pacific, but the best of plans come to a screaming halt when the health of the crew is endangered.
The last five months have been a roller coaster. We have traveled, seen beautiful sites, visited with family and relaxed, while mourning the abrupt halt of a dream. We know in our brains that it has only been put on hold, but our hearts are so sad.
We are looking forward to getting the boat back in the water in March and spend the summer sailing our beautiful BC coastline and see what unfolds. Hoping we will be able to make the BAHAHA Rally this fall.