Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The silence

Life can change in an instant. Flip like a dinghy. Take for instance a 200lb dinghy, dragged ashore single handedly by your captain, and flipped for washing. Your less than ‘totally fit’ (but still a 10!) captain gets a shooting pain in his back during this maneuver and he spends the next few weeks ignoring an increasing pain down his left leg.
Life can seem normal still - one moment you can be sailing along, turquoise seas cradling your boat, en route to beautiful Antigua, looking forward to more of the same - 10 months into your open ended dream life.
But then in trying to remove a reef in the mainsail, your captain pulls at the lines and twists his injured back…
And the next morning he can’t walk. At all.
Fast forward a few days and some awkward dinghy trips to shore, and you find yourself in a third world hospital waiting room, paying cash for a $2.5k MRI, your captain still unable to walk. The tests reveal herniated discs. Those spongy bits between one’s spinal vertebrae, pushed out of place, just far enough to ruin our lives…
And weeks later still, you find yourself behind the drizzly windshield wipers, stuck in traffic in the dreary rain soaked streets of suburban Canada. It starts to dawn on you that your dream life is over, your captain possibly a year or more away from walking normally, let alone sailing. The possibilities that lie ahead no longer include rum punches on new beaches. Surgery, bills, a ‘safe land-locked-life’ are coming into view. You start wondering which country to look for jobs. The vision of Shiloh our boat, anchored far away in dreamy Antigua, fading further and further into oblivion.
The thought of blogging about all this brought only tears, dripping into the keypad, the bleak white empty word document staring back. So, silence.
Silence in the blogosphere as we fought with the uncaring, overloaded, inept Canadian medical system. Silence, through one prescribed narcotic drug after another for my captain, broken and bed ridden.
Silent uninspired, our days filled with painful and discouraging physiotherapy and chiropractor sessions followed by bedrest and discussions about the gloomy prospects that lie ahead. And the overwhelming frustration of not being able to make it all go away, make it better, go backward in time. On March 31st we spent our 1 year 'boat-life' anniversary in zero degree weather, fully grounded in suburbia.
But fast forward now, two months of tests and trials and healing time. And life has thrown us a chance. It can change in an instant. The headlines:
Surgeon says no surgery needed. Pain begins to subside, physio starts working! Grown son becomes available to assist on the boat for a few months.
The captain - feeling much better, but still not strutting!
This is where I do cartwheels across the screen and jump for joy – my pale, drawn face lit from within, smile from ear to ear. Shiloh, we’re coming home baby!!!!!!

This experience has taught us a few good lessons, and a few we’d rather not have learned. But if I hadn’t appreciated the life we’d found before, I can say with resounding confidence now, that I will never take it for granted. 
We have made some friends out on the sea who will be forever in our hearts. Exceptional people. Since we've been away, our dear amazing friends on Khaya Moya have stayed put, boatsitting Shiloh instead of sailing on, as we all yearn to do. Who could take friends like these for granted. I am reserving some special hugs for our return!
Life aboard isn’t always easy. It is not glamorous, despite what vacation brochures insist, but it is a freedom that I will forever cherish. For us it is not A life, but THE life. And we’re going to soak it up for every salt encrusted moment and gorgeous sunset it brings.


  1. I am so, so happy that you have received good news. Hope you get back to your boat soon and your captain recovers quickly!!

  2. So glad to hear that things are improving and you will soon be back aboard Shiloh. We've been thinking about you!

  3. So sorry for the injury! I broke both my collarbones last year right after we moved aboard our boat to prepare to sail out of New York. It was impossible to go "home" for four months because there was no way to get me on and off the boat without excruciating pain.

    You do what you have to do and you grow a little more cautious with your steps when you remember what life aboard is like with a major injury!

    Glad you'll be back onboard soon!


  4. So glad this story has a happy ending.

  5. Welcome back to the Caribbean. She and we have missed you, your writing, and your photos. Most of all, we've missed your unique and thoughtful perspective about this life, The Life for us as well. Unfortunately this life has it's trials, challenges, and hiccups just like life back home. As Amanda said, "So glad this story has a happy ending." Welcome home.

  6. Holli, my heart went out to you reading this, and am so happy for you life is looking good again!

  7. Phew! So delighted John is on the mend and Shiloh and crew will be cruising once more. Long may it continue!

    Absolutely no overdoing it, though, skipper!

    Hope to see you both soon - will you be heading back to Grenada for the summer?

    Big hugs

    Karen & Dick

  8. Oh dear, that's why you were so silent. That was horrible but thank God it turned out OK in the end. Welcome back home!

  9. Hi there. We wish you good luck for the future! You are writing so nice way and I gave you an award in our blog
    Arja and Hentti