Mon 19 Dec 2016 01:55
Operation secure Lochmarin went ahead with the help of Terry, the only other cruiser that was here, and only just in time. Although we had moored between two buoys, not anchored, we had put two additional anchors out so we figured it counted as anchoring and deserved an anchor beer afterwards - especially as we needed to thank Terry for his help. The only thing was, we had no beer. So Terry had to row over to his catamaran to fetch us some beer to thank him with. A loaded cool bag soon appeared and we sat in the shade of the cockpit awning chatting whilst one beer led to another, then another. An hour or two later the bag was empty and Terry rowed a meandering track back to his boat whilst we retired below for a much needed siesta from which we were rudely awakened by a phone call from the insurance company, from whom we’d heard nothing for three days, telling us to go, now, they had found a surgeon in Bali, he could operate, we should fly there today!

Frantic packing of a bag, closing up of boat and waking up of Terry to give us a lift ashore ensued, followed by a wonderful “get us to the airport, as quick as you can!" two hour taxi ride down the coast. We snaked our way around beautiful bays, the steep mountain sides forcing us seaward, then  fought our way through the city in the middle of a torrential downpour which flooded the streets and turned the hundreds of scooter riders into bright boil-in-the-bag clad packages, then, free of the traffic, we flew past crescent upon crescent of paddy fields, startlingly beautiful now the sun was shining in the newly washed sky: rows of emerald green shoots mirrored on the dark brown water surface they stood in, delicate lines of trees along their low retaining banks, with the mountains providing the perfect backdrop to it all.

We missed the plane. So everything slowed down, we found a nearby hotel and caught our breath and slept air-conditioned sleep before returning next morning to catch the flight to Bali.

Bali was different! It's just 30 miles across the strait but it feels like a completely different country. Lombok is Muslim. Huge, out of proportion to the rest of the village, mosques are dotted periodically along the roads. Most of the women have their hair covered and all wear long sleeves and long skirts - there’s even a version of the boil-in-the-bag scooter rain wear that has a wrap around plastic skirt, complete with reflective silver stripe, instead of over trousers. Most people on the scooters don’t wear helmets, except in the city where it’s only the driver who bothers, not the eldest kid in from of him, the wife holding the baby behind him and the toddler clinging on behind her (nor the chickens in the baskets). The houses have tin roofs or are thatched. 

Bali is Hindu. There are mosques, of course, but ornate temples with red tiled roofs predominate. Everywhere there are statues and shrines, complete with offerings of food, flowers and money and with incense burning. Almost everyone wears a helmet on the scooters and dress is more relaxed. Of course, we were in the most touristy part of Bali and just saw the bits between the airport and the hospital, the hospital and the hotel, the hotel and the airport, but even so it was enough to give one a feel. The other thing to notice was the security: coming to the hotel the taxi was stopped and had the boot checked, as well as underneath it with mirrors, like you see in American films. Every time you went through the door your bag was x-rayed and you had to walk through a metal detector. They take the threat of terrorism seriously.

The hospital and surgeon couldn’t have been better. Phil was assessed first in A&E, which was excellent fun as it was jam packed and, with just curtains between, we were able to overhear what went on in the other cubicles. Along with local folk, usually with half a dozen family members sitting on the floor looking at their phones in their cubicle, there were plenty of tourists. The girls were dressed in, to our now unaccustomed eyes, unbelievably skimpy shorts and tops, and they had a variety of complaints, not all alcohol related. Our favourite was the Australian youngster, as skinny as a nineties model, who came in complaining of acute pains in her abdomen. She was sure she was dying. Her boyfriend was her advocate and could be heard complaining that her blood had been taken an hour ago and they still hadn’t got the results back (try that one in the NHS!). Eventually the doctor took him aside and explained that they could find nothing badly wrong. The x-ray showed some compacted faeces in her lower bowel and the blood tests indicated that she may have a parasite. The boyfriend was too scared to break this news to her, asking the doctor to come and do it. The outburst was outraged and predictable: “There’s no shit in there and I do NOT have worms!” We were giggling for days afterwards.

Having had every check one could think of Phil was transferred to a private room and the op was scheduled for the morning. All went well and I was relieved to get invited to gown up and come and keep him company whilst he recovered from the anaesthetic in the operating theatre. He was absolutely fine, no pain, a little ‘discomfort’ when he moved, all was good and he was discharged to the hotel the following day. It was then, of course that the discomfort turned to pain and the rather impressive swelling came in, but nothing too bad. It just demonstrated how impressive the painkiller they had been drip feeding him was: Fentanyl. We hear it’s making a name for itself.

The insurance company wanted to keep us in the hotel in Bali for a week to recover, the Hilton Garden Inn, very nice indeed, more floor space in the room than in the whole of our boat, a big pool, great food, wonderful staff. But we wanted to fly back to Lochmarin. Living on a boat is not like living in a house. She is not only your home and your transport, she is your safety in the midst of huge oceans. Also, there’s very little chance that your house won’t be there when you return to it, whereas with a boat that is a very real possibility. All this means we wanted to be near Lochmarin. We reached a compromise, we’d stay two days and if the surgeon agreed, fly back to Lombok and stay in the little hotel at the marina for a week before moving back on board. It’s a very simple, 2 star hotel in a quiet out of the way part of Lombok. The insurers couldn’t figure us out but as the surgeon was happy (and it would cost them much less) so we got our way and spent a peaceful week recovering back at Medana. We spent an hour or two on board each day, with me pottering at some jobs, we read a lot and took gentle walks along the beach. It was rather nice being landlubbers for a while. Our laundry was done for us, the bed was made and floor swept (most days), and, of course, we had all our meals prepared for us, yet Lochmarin was within sight of our room.

We’re back on board now, not sailing off yet, we’ll do some day sailing around New Year when Phil’s daughter and her fiancé join us for a couple of weeks but we won’t push on until 6 or 7 weeks after the op. There’s a problem though: I seem to have forgotten how to cook.

No photos… my computer died, unfortunately after I’d imported my photos and deleted them on my camera and I’d not backed up as we were away from the boat so I didn’t have my backup disk. Poo. (I’ve written this on Phil’s laptop)