Having recently been conscripted as interim guest editor of the Curious blog, I'm sitting here on a foggy afternoon, writing from aboard this lovely sailing ship berthed at the end of C dock in beautiful Opua.
After a rolicking first 4 days out of Fiji with winds up to 32 knots and seas rising 3 to 4 metres, the conditions finally settled. Settled so much, in fact, that we ended up motoring the last 36 hours. But none of us really minded as we regained our appetites that had been suspiciously absent for the first 96 hours and we began cooking up a storm.
Steve, as many of you already have heard, picked up a metal sliver in his foot shortly before leaving Fiji. His foot started to hurt shortly after we pulled up anchor and set sail south on November 11. We disinfected and dressed the small puncture wound, but the pain increased and the swelling started to slowly spread. After a SSB email consultation with my dad, a Canadian doc currently doing a locum in eastern Canada on Prince Edward Island, Steve started taking double doses of an oral antibiotic three times a day. This initially halted the advance of the swelling for a day or two, but then the redness started to expand again and the pain increased further on day 4. Skipper, ever the stalwart, insisted on maintaining his 3-hour watches in proper rotations in spite of his crew mates' offers of some extra sleep.
As we got within VHF range of New Zealand on day 6, we hailed Customs and Immigration to ask for an expedited clearance at the dock so that Steve could get to hospital. They cheerfully and helpfully complied by moving us to the front of the que, They did, however, confiscate the remaining meat from the freezer and a jar of barbeque sauce that contained traces of honey as biohazards to NZ's agriculture industry. I also had to carefully brush the Canadian forest soil and potential animal droppings from every last tread of my hiking boots. I guess our magnificent Canadian red cedars aren't welcome here.
Steve and Trish's friend Bill, an orthopaedic surgeon from Maine, who had arrived from Tonga on his boat Visions of Johann a couple of days earlier, grabbed our lines as we docked. He took Steve in a rental car to the local hospital in KawaKawa, about 15 kilometres from the marina in Opua while Terje and I secured the boat and registered at the marina. At the local 25 bed hospital, a team of German and American doctors cleaned up the wound, started him on IV antibiotics and found a balance of pain killers that made Steve much more comfortable. The patient was not amused to be told that he couldn't go straight back to Curious to push on towards Auckland. "I've never spent a night in hospital my entire life!" he said to us when Terje and I arrived later on, his pride apparently as wounded as his foot. "I've broken ribs, dislocated shoulders, busted up my tibia, got stitches after rolling the BMW in France and never had to venture past the Accident and Emergency department! I can't believe a little sliver has gotten me laid up like this," he exclaimed.
By then next day, Steve was feeling much better and we took our post-epic photo, albeit with hospital drapes instead of Curious as the backdrop!
Terje and I are off to visit Steve again this afternoon and will keep you posted over the next couple of days when we're able to access the somewhat finicky WiFi connection here in the Marina.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed
by the things you did not do than by the things you did do.
So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain