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Old 15-06-2022, 13:05   #1
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Back To The Islands

Decided to start my own thread, rather than risk appearing to hijack otherís with my thoughts that may not be directly related to their topic. Feel free to comment, question, or otherwise engage here.

Iím planning my return to the waters and barrier islands of Southwest Florida, where I spent the best 9 of my 56+ years of life, messing about on 3 of the 4 boats Iíve called my own. I wrote a blog over those 9 years and will likely resume it, upon my return, but for now itís best I remain more anonymous on the pages of the cruisers forum. My wife and others had subscribed to my blog and my thoughts of today are best left away from her eyes and ears.

My wife of 22 years is stricken with what the doctors call cancer of unknown primary, meaning, despite two full body PET scans, they cannot locate the point of origin in her body. It metastasized to her lymph nodes and showed itself as tumors in her throat. In January she had surgery to remove 31 lymph nodes and 8 were malignant. The oncologists best guess was that this is a type of Head & Neck cancer, so thatís how they decide to treat it. She did 35 rounds of radiation and 7 rounds of chemotherapy. The treatments were very hard on her and sheís now suffering from awful malnutrition, weighing 69 pounds, clothed with shoes on. She is still smoking a half pack a day and drinking a bottle of wine every evening. Sheís decided to do this her way and all I can do is care for her, make her comfortable and not fight her in what is surely her final year of life, at just 65. She doesnít like me talking about what she could do to save herself. She doesnít like talking about death and dying or even life ever after. My mom quit smoking at 60 and today sheís 90, lives alone, drives and cares for her dog. Thatís my inspiration. But that is not what Iím here to write about. Iím just laying some foundation so you know where Iím coming from. I quit smoking 16 years ago and quit drinking 5 months ago. Iím committed to living and living a life worth writing about. When her time is done, I will sell the house and almost everyone in it and my 2 & 4 year old dogs will continue our journey.

Last night I dreamed I was aboard and that the tinnitus that has been ringing in my ears the last few years suddenly stopped. All I could hear was a gentle wind and the lapping of the waves against the hull. Just imagine a torturous buzzing in your head nearly every waking moment, suddenly going silent. My hearing aids mitigate the madness somewhat but it would be something to finally be rid of the ringing.

Back to reality: Iím leaning toward an Island Packet, 38-42 foot, possibly the Estero. Thereís a couple of 2010ís on YW but they will likely be gone when Iím ready to buy. Whatever it is will be a shoal draft, ocean crossing capable monohull, set up for single handed sailing. Safety for the dogs and skipper will be a priority and reef fishing will be our primary activity, after running the beach each morning and evening when we are near shore. The dogs have much experience living in my 5th wheel trailer and traveling in the back seat of my truck for long days on the road. This will have them prepared to transition to life aboard. Both love swimming and have been in many pools, lakes and rivers.

My initial plan would be to spend Oct-Apr living on the anchor on and around Charlotte Harbor. I owned a Gulf access canal home there for 9 years and I have several good friends who will let me park my truck on their properties and help me when I need to restock the boat.

At least the first season, I will store her on the hard Apr-Oct and we will return to our native AZ, where we will re-connect with family and spend the months living in the 5th wheel in the cool pines above 7,000í elevation. In the event of forest closures or fires, my son-in-law has a home on 1.6 acres where we store the trailer and I can park/live there.

Something inside me tells me it wonít be too many seasons before we just decide to stay on the boat full time and venture further away from SWFL. But time will tell. Iím not trying to cut all ties to land life to begin with.

The state of the ever-eroding free world is my biggest concern at this point. I also fear crime in the US will continue to get worse and a senior citizen traveling alone across the country twice each year could be at-risk. Iím a retired cop and keep the tools of my trade close-by but I donít want to get involved in those types of confrontations if at all possible. My male Aussie is very protective and quick to bark at strangers, so that helps too.

I suppose thatís enough of an intro. I plan to continue to share thoughts and plans of my pending boat purchase and launch here. Open to advice and the benefit of your experiences aboard, if youíd like to reply. Thanks for listening.
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Old 15-06-2022, 16:37   #2
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Re: Back To The Islands

G'day, Messing About, and welcome aboard CF.

What you are going through is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to go through; not that my opinion matters much, but I think your transition plan makes really good sense. A friend of ours, after his beloved wife died, said he felt like his compass was gone, and it took him quite a while to land on his feet. Your plan sounds to me as if it will help you, especially since you're making an effort to retain both family and friendship ties.

Just keep in touch as your search for a boat actualizes.

Ann
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Old 15-06-2022, 17:53   #3
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Re: Back To The Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
G'day, Messing About, and welcome aboard CF.

What you are going through is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to go through; not that my opinion matters much, but I think your transition plan makes really good sense. A friend of ours, after his beloved wife died, said he felt like his compass was gone, and it took him quite a while to land on his feet. Your plan sounds to me as if it will help you, especially since you're making an effort to retain both family and friendship ties.

Just keep in touch as your search for a boat actualizes.

Ann


Thank you, Ann. Your wisdom and kindness is evident from many replies you have posted on CF.
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Old 19-06-2022, 01:02   #4
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Re: Back To The Islands

Amazing that I should discover this thread of your--I have NEVER checked this page for topics but somehow landed here and am grateful to be able to now understand why, elsewhere, plans were spoken using the future tense.



Ann is correct about death of a spouse being one of the hardest experiences; it's a reality not just an opinion. But that's only my opinion. And, Yes, please do keep posting (or private messaging) as your process unfolds.



Diane
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Old 19-06-2022, 01:26   #5
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Re: Back To The Islands

Great post and touched a still very raw nerve with me. My wife and I had a couple of boats, the last being an X48, cruised many places and the idea was that we would retire early and cruise the world. Cancer stepped in and she passed 3 years ago. It still hurts and probably always will but I made the decision to carry on and cruise as that was the plan. I will be moving onboard full time at the age of 60 later this year and will leave the family home to the kids and the boat will then be my home for as long as my health permits (hopefully 20+ years). My plans are a little more ambitious (aka foolhardy) but a plan is a plan.

I love your idea. Go do it, make it happen and enjoy every second as life is just too friggin short. I'll be there soon and maybe the tinnitus screaming in my ears to quickly disappear. Don't worry too much about security and crime - I figure living on land is always way more dangerous than on the sea and the plus is you have the sunsets and lapping of the water on the hull. Can't beat that.
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Old 19-06-2022, 19:00   #6
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Re: Back To The Islands

Thank you both your replies, as well. The Forum has been great help snd inspiration. The senior sailors, both seasoned and green, give me confidence that at nearly 57 itís not too late.

I canít wait to get back to Florida. I look forward to fishing the near costal reefs. I still have all of my numbers where I used to fish 17-23 miles west of Gasparilla Pass. Glad I keep all of my fishing gear.

One of my favorite things to do was take naps on the boat. It likely meant so much because it was the closest thing to I did to living aboard, back then, but all of that will change in the near future.

Iíve been enjoying YouTuber Barry Perrinsí Adventures of An Old Sea Dog. His British humor is funny without being over the top. Iím on episode 61 of more than 200 and Iíve already learned a few things that will help me when Iím soloing. Although I havenít figured out why he doesnít fish??? I like that he travels with friends who are their own boats and they meet up in anchorages. I envision the same lifestyle with like minded people; people who like dogs and good music and fishing.

The boat at the top of my list is listed on both YW and SAilboatlistings.com but I was kind of shocked to see it was listed more than 3 years ago. Iím too many mo the away from buying to bother calling on any boats, but do you think nice 12 year old boats have been lasting that long without selling? At $200k, itís probably priced 12-25% higher than what Iíd imagine offering for it but thatís not a crazy difference. The same model in a 2012 is priced at $300k. Both in FL. As Iíve read on other threads, I envision prices coming down over the next 6-12 months but of course I may be wrong.
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Old 22-06-2022, 05:10   #7
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Re: Back To The Islands

Today is June 22nd. It marks 5 months since I quit drinking on January 22. My resolve remains strong amidst great stress in life. My wife continues to drink, each afternoon starting about 3:30. Very difficult to watch.

The damage from her chemo & radiation continues her steady decline. Sheís still able to walk and care for herself but sheís quite weak; sleeps on the couch much of the day while I work on my office down the hall, with the dogs as my constant companions.

Not a day goes by without me looking at the Island Packet listings and the same boats Iíve looked at many dozens of times, wondering if it will be one of those actual boats or just a model similar that takes me to the next chapter of my lifeís journey. I watch YouTube videos of Barry Perrins and mentally prepare myself for being at sea in poor conditions, rolling, banging, uncomfortable days. One doesnít have to prepare for peace and tranquillity. That will just come and pass. Itís the lousy days that will require a mental toughness to stay the course. Like most days in life, I imagine the good outweighing the bad.

Still wondering if a small, portable, 2000 watt Honda generator will be of use to me aboard? I have two of them for my RV and they are quite reliable and light weight, just about 48 pounds when filled with a gallon of gas. On the RV they plug into the shore power cord and the two can be connected in series to give 4000 watts but I donít imagine have both on board would be necessary or easy to stow. My plan is to rely mostly on solar, as I do in the RV trailer, with the genset as backup.

Finally, for what itís worth. Today marks 30 years since the night as a young cop, I encountered a ďhim or meĒ moment. I went home, he didnít. There were times in my twenties I thought Iíd never live to see age 30. Now here I am, 30 years later, hoping and planning for 30 more. Iím grateful for the life Iíve been given and have tried to make the most of it. Thereís so much more to experience now that the working and earning and saving phase is nearly complete. All of that has been a means to get to this new beginning. I sure hope to cast off the bowline soon.
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Old 22-06-2022, 06:06   #8
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Re: Back To The Islands

(Couldnít figure out how to edit a post on the app)
Forgot I wanted to share this song.
This is Michael McCloud, who plays at the Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West. This is one of his many songs that touches my soul and in particular, this one drives me to achieve my retire on a boat dream:

https://youtu.be/lYy32yJuPRM
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Old 22-06-2022, 06:46   #9
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Re: Back To The Islands

My son just fought off testicular cancer.
One of my besties drank his liver to cancer and I miss him large.
Iím so sorry to hear about your best girl.
Hope you get your boat
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Old 28-06-2022, 09:40   #10
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Re: Back To The Islands

Update on my pending yacht dream and the job I must finish before setting sail into retirement.

Yesterday's doctor appointment found her down yet another pound, despite wearing a light jacket, clothes and shoes on the scale. 68.

Her latest blood work revealed elevated liver function, meaning the liver is under stress. She told the doctor she only drinks a couple glasses of wine a night, which is about 25% of the truth. If you've been the partner of an alcoholic, you would understand why I couldn't "out her" to the doctor. She's not going to change to save her life (literally) and she'd be even worse to live with if I snitched her off. The doctor told her she shouldn't be drinking at all but that she should set a goal to reduce down to maybe one glass, every other night. Later that afternoon, she had 6 in four hours. Sad but typical ritual for the past 22 years. It never starts before 3:30 PM and is usually done by 7, 7:30 PM. Despite me being over 5 months sober, the other day she asked me if I wanted her to put some wine for me on the shopping list. Really, dear? I just politely said no and walked into the other room shaking my head in a silent rage. She just doesn't get it and she never will.

There was no discussion of the continued half a pack of cigarettes smoked every day. I think the doctor knows that's not going to change either. A new PET scan was scheduled for next month.

She's still surprisingly mobile, although she will sleep 7-8 hours at night, then another 4-5 hours during the day. Before 3:30 PM she walks without support, showers alone, and still runs short errands once or twice a week but her driving alone scares me. I try to take her everywhere she needs to go, which isn't much.

My boat search continues, although I won't be able to pull that trigger until it's only my decision. Nonetheless, I will be thoroughly informed on the market and features I seek. I find excitement looking at charts of barrier islands and current wind conditions, imagining where I will anchor down when I get back to Florida. I found a 2021 IP349 that was so beautiful to look at, in photos, for a moment I began to get new boat fever. But I don't want to spend a quarter of my net worth on the boat, so I moved on. Not to mention, I would never buy a boat that is named Devil's Advocate. WTH?

I see myself with about a 10-12 year old Island Packet, either a 380 or an Estero. Hoping to spend 150k-200k depending on actual condition and options. The one in St. John's, FL is my current favorite.

Today, I was inspired and moved to tears by these song lyrics, written in 1968 by Jimmy Webb, who wrote many of my favorite Glen Campbell songs. The song is MacArthur Park, which is much revered by many, but these verses are pure poetry to my heart.

"There will be another song for me,
and I will sing it.
There will be another dream for me.
Someone will bring it.

I will drink the wine while it is warm
and never let you catch me looking at the sun.
And after all the loves of my life,
After all the loves of my life, you'll still be the one.​

I will take my life into my hands. . .and I will use it.
I will win the worship in your eyes, oh and I will lose it.
I will have the things that I desire
and my passion flow like rivers through the sky.

And after all the loves of my life . . .
After all the loves of my life . . .
I'll be thinking of you . . .
And wondering why . . . "
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Old 28-06-2022, 11:18   #11
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Re: Back To The Islands

Look at the boats to keep sane. Don’t worry, one will come available when you’re ready. They always do.
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Old 28-06-2022, 15:12   #12
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Re: Back To The Islands

Ah, Messing About, I feel your pain. My mom was still smoking after she had been diagnosed with lung cancer, emphysema, and congestive heart failure. Hooked up to her oxygen. I was terrified she'd ignite the oxygen and die in the fire.

Try to hold the good things in your heart and remember them, the most. After all of it, it is up to us to learn to deal with our conflicts; it's just that nobody ever warned us how difficult it is. It is kind of you to hang in there with her in spite of her regrettable addictions.

Hang in there, mate, the IP is doable.

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Old 20-07-2022, 05:03   #13
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Re: Back To The Islands

First an update on my wife, then an update on my boat research and planning.

She had her second post op, post treatment, PET scan on Monday, with results yesterday. Keep in mind, theyíve never seen the origin of the cancer that metastasized into her throat lymph nodes, so thereís no real baseline with which to judge progression or improvement. Nonetheless, the news was good. No new evidence of cancer. This is good news but only in the sense that it was no news. Her weight was at another new low; 66 pounds, fully clothed with a light jacket and sandals. Oncologist did not talk about her continued smoking and drinking yet said she would consider her in remission, now 6 months post-op. Bloodwork shows sodium deficiency and continued elevated liver function. Follow-up appointments and bloodwork are now reduced to every 30 days instead of every 14. I bought her a medical chair so she can sit our walk-in shower, to reduce the risk of a fall.

I continue to seek sanity by searching boat listings and researching IP models. I found a listing of the rare IP Packet Cat 35. Such a vessel could be a real good fit for my two dogs living aboard but itís a lot more maintenance with twin 27 Yanmars, two heads, and nearly 30 years old. IP only made 41 of this model. It is intriguing, in that it only draws 30Ē and has a 50í bridge clearance. This would allow a cut thru the middle Keys, vs going all the way around Key West, when sailing from SWFL to the Bahamas. The low draft and cat hull would be great for beach landings to run the dogs. Itís roughly half the asking price of the IP370 and Esteros Iíve considered but not nearly in as good of condition, either. Lots of time to decide but when I finally buy, I will be well read/researched and should have confidence in my final choice.

My work from home job seems to have gotten a reprieve. I had been expecting to be released in September but it looks like their next phase of major change in my department wonít be ready until January. I got assigned to lead a project that will keep me busy for the next six weeks, so thatís good. Every month I can keep this income will improve my retirement security and planned cruising lifestyle. Since I was expecting to get cut in September and the new owners screwed me out of a bonus, I have been dumping my entire checks into my 401k in an effort to hit the IRS max contribution of $27k. This is the only way to reduce my tax burden. I successfully funded that last week so I can breath a sigh of relief there. Also putting $8k a year into a tax sheltered Health Savings Account. This will be a portion of my own personal cash ďhealth insurance planĒ since I am retiring well before 65. (Nearing 57 now).

I enjoyed a photo blog of Culebra, PR this morning. Very enjoyable. Iíve been to San Juan many times and spent a day on a skiff off Ponce once but havenít been to the Spanish Virgin Islands yet. Culebra is now on my to-do list, on the way down ďLa Caribe.Ē

Last note: Friday will mark 6 months since I quit drinking. I give thanks and praise to God for the courage and blessing to achieve this. As the US continues itís steady societal decline, I sort of look at my escape plans like Noah, building the Ark; except it will be only me and my two dogs escaping this flood.
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Old 25-07-2022, 05:42   #14
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Re: Back To The Islands

Good Monday morning. Tough to face another week. Looking forward to trading deserts for open waters again someday. Click image for larger version

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Old 28-07-2022, 00:34   #15
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Re: Back To The Islands

I survived Lymphoma quite a number of years ago. Chemo ect sucks. They pretty much try and just not quite kill you with it.
I was never a smoker except for second hand.
At first I never really understood. Walking past the walking skeletons outside the clinic with their IV’s attached still puffing away. Surely if nothing else having cancer would convince one to stop.
Later I came to understand. It’s an addiction. It isn’t so simple. If Someone is already in the process of dying a slow painful death due to cancer. Why not. The alternative is just more discomfort.
You can’t live someone else’s life for them. They have to decide these things for themselves.
Doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch.
My lifelong best friend was a heavy drinker and smoker. A couple of years after I recovered. I was watching him fail slowly. Eventually I took him to emergency. It was difficult he didn’t want to go. I thought he was pretty much done for with serious lung cancer.
No it was Lymphoma. I beat it I was happy. He had Lymphoma I though he would beat it too.
Unfortunately not, his kept reoccurring, each time quicker and worse. Took about 6 years to kill him. He did quite drinking and smoking when a he went for bone marrow transplant.
It didn’t work out.
Another close friend, also lymphoma, also a drinker and smoker lasted less than a year.
My mum quite smoking in her late 50s, she passed after battling ovarian cancer. But she was in her 80s
You never know how it’s going to go until it does. Then you deal with it the best you can.

It changed my outlook on life, as to what is and what is not important.

For me it was to see my kids grow up. The rest didn’t matter. My daughter was just learning how to walk, she just finished a law degree.
Make the best of the time you have, with the person who is important to you .
I miss my friends. I valued the time I got to spend with them.

I haven’t been sailing since last year. Still recovering from a quad bypass. Life goes on.
I don’t smoke haven’t drunk or drink very little for decades. Apparently got crap genes.
Oh well still here.
Fortunately for me, I don’t worry much about loosing my partner. I think she will outlast me by a long shot. She not pleased, I’m back on my MC and just renewed my ski pass for this winter.
She was really mad when I went skiing back in the spring.
I will get the boat back on the water soon.

Accept it is her life to live.
Make the most of the time you have, then get on with life and what you find makes you happier.
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