Friday, February 19, 2010

Sometimes Things Go Fowl


We left Pipe for a short trip to Fowl Cay (also known as Chicken Cay), where our destination mirrored my mood. Several days prior I lifted a dental crown off while enthusiastically flossing and numerous efforts to reattach the cap with my onboard “cement” failed. So did my efforts to reach my dentist for advice, as cell service was kaput.

Eventually I was able to speak with my dentist’s office (the vagaries of Bahamian cell service continue to elude me) , and set an appointment for repair when I return to NJ in a few weeks to see my rheumatologist. However, assistant Carol said a fix would not be possible unless I quickly attached the crown before the gum grew, thereby rendering it useless. When I told Carol that the Cavit I had aboard did not hold, she suggested I visit the ship’s clinic or a local pharmacy for alternatives.

No Carol, I am not on a cruiseship, and no Carol, there is no CVS or Walgreens conveniently located around the corner, only a poorly stocked combination auto parts, fishing equipment, and “drug store” maybe within a three day’s sail. So, I took to the marine airwaves, calling out on the boat’s radio asking the nearby cruisers to dig deep into their own first aid bounty to see if any Dent Temp, as recommended by my dentist, had made their kit. Lucky for me, Rainbow’s End quickly replied with an affirmative. We dinghied over with a thank-you bottle of wine and picked up the hoped-for solution.

Unfortunately, that brand failed as well. Our friends on Our Turn measure the cost of any expenditure in Boat Units, where one Boat Unit is exactly equal to one thousand dollars; anything you need for a boat is this amount, or multiples. I roughly estimated that a new crown necessitated by the soon-to-be gargantuan gum growth would well exceed One Unit, and my two day visit back “home” would have to be extended, requiring another boat Unit in higher airfares for two flights, and punitive change fees.

With yet another cold front approaching, we could not take that three day sail to the pretend neighborhood drug store, but headed back to Pipe for refuge. While there, things really went fowl.

1. The outboard motor became spastic, intermittently stalling and not restarting without a significant delay, and multiple attempts. This means you can get somewhere off of the boat, but not necessarily back to it. Not a healthy condition.
2. While cleaning the switches on the electronics panel (like dusting electrical outlets at home, a one a season effort), I flipped off the refrigeration, which failed to “reboot”. After several hours of reading manuals while pondering how I was going to maintain the required temperature on my very expensive Chinese Hamster Juice medication, a ridiculous touch of a button seemingly unrelated to the problem restarted the frig.
3. At 2 am in the morning a carunching scraping noise turned out not to be a nightmare, but a real life introduction of First Edition’s rudder to a coral reef, after the boat turned to a new wind or current direction. Shortening of the scope on the anchor (reducing the length of chain attached to Buster) pulled us out of harm’s way. Not a terrific solution since the more scope you have out, the better your ability to withstand storm conditions.
4. Our weatherman’s update revealed yet another nasty front to arrive in a few days, this one “unlike any I have ever seen” he says. Winds are forecast to approach 35-40 knots sustained, and 50 knots in squalls. Just great. I would rather be home with all that snow.

I will very likely gnaw through my dental nightguard, which I am wearing 24/7 (OK, I slip it out for meals) in order to secure my dental crown until it can be professionally reattached.

Sometimes this cruising life is no fun at all.

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