We were all smiles as our ferry docked at the makeshift pier in Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, last weekend.
“Look at the water!” we excitedly twittered to each other. It was the clearest we’ve seen since Fiji. We couldn’t wait to get settled and jump in with the snorkels and masks we’ve carried in our heavy packs since Sydney.
“How good is this food!” we exclaimed that evening, eating Pad Thai and more green curry at a ‘rustic’ roadside restaurant near the small villa in the woods that we’d rented for the final two weeks of our adventure.
But that night Will woke me up at 2am to get him some Tylenol – he had a fever of 102. Three more days/nights of hot and cold sweats, horrendous headaches, back, neck, and body aches, followed for him.
On the fourth day, we decided that enough was enough – this was obviously not just the flu – and we made our way to the nearest clinic.
The results of the blood test came that evening and all I could understand from the Doctor on the phone was: “Dengue Fever. Blood very bad. All levels low, abnormal. Come to the clinic tonight. We will stay open for you. Your husband must go on the IV.”
We ended up spending the night in the clinic, with Will hooked up to the IV drip, me trying to sleep at the foot of his wooden plank bed, and the Doctor, Wan, sleeping on the couch in the waiting room. She got up every four hours to take his blood pressure and temperature. I was very happy to have her there.
The next day brought more bad news: another blood test (taken in the morning, sent by ferry to the hospital on Koh Samui, processed in the lab, and results emailed back) showed worsening conditions for Will. The Doctors at the small clinic quickly arranged for us to be taxied to the ferry pier, put on the afternoon ferry to Samui, and picked up and taken to the hospital at the other end.
Another ferry ride – no big deal, right? Hello – we’ve just sailed across the Pacific!
But it was getting rough out – 30 knots and a building sea. The catamaran ferry was beam to the waves and the crew quickly began handing out sick bags to all the passengers around us. Will was in no shape to enjoy the comedy of such a wild boat ride, as he would’ve in normal circumstance. And I was already in such an anxious state that I have to admit the waves crashing over the bow, the sounds of seasickness all around us, and the steep side-to-side rolls of the boat all got to me. I was gripping the edge of my seat with such white knuckles that one of the crew came over to comfort me: “Don’t be scared”, he soothed me, assuming I was afraid of the ocean, “It will be okay. Big ballast.”
The ferry did a crash landing into the dock at Koh Phangan. The captain brought the boat in at quite a clip, considering, and slammed it up again the dock so hard that we thought the glass windows were going to break. No fenders, of course. Every swell that came through smashed the hull again and it’s a wonder they were able to unload/load more passengers.
By the time we arrived in Koh Samui, I was beside myself. And Will – poor Will – he was in pretty bad shape too.
We spent 3 nights in Samui, near the hospital. Will started feeling better, and his blood counts started coming back as well. Thank goodness!!!!
We can joke now, but it truly has been an awful week.
What’s so ironic is that we’ve spent time this past year being almost as far as anyone can ever be away from doctors/hospitals. Having another health scare has put that in real perspective.
One big plus the middle of the ocean has going for it – no mosquitoes!
BAD TIMING: Primary wallet lost/stolen 24 hours before leaving Bali.
The ‘disappearance’ resulted in frantic running between the beach and the hotel, a lot of sweat and (quite) a few swear words. Regardless if dropped or somehow pinched, it was long gone by the time we realized it was missing. Oh well, all part of travelling…
GOOD TIMING: Arrival in Phuket and sailing friends to visit!
To avoid the hassle of trying to extend our 30 day Visas for Indonesia, we somewhat randomly booked the cheapest flights we could find – to Phuket, Thailand.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, SV Rutea (with Neal and Ruthie aboard) is spending the monsoon season here.
This story goes back to 1996 when Will and his family were cruising in Mexico on SV Karina I. They met the Rutea gang, a family of 5, in Cabo and ended up spending tons of time together in Mexico and Hawaii that year. They even rendezvoused at sea – Rutea stood by when John had to jump over the stern to fix a windvane [not a Hydrovane!] problem about a week out from Hilo.
SV Rutea has been out cruising again for three years. They puddle jumped in 2011 and write an excellent blog (www.rutea.com) that I read from beginning to end (well, it’s ongoing) before we set off on our own SoPac adventure. We’ve been following in their footsteps and so it was amazing to FINALLY catch up to them here, in Phuket, Thailand.
We enjoyed a couple of nights of story swapping aboard their lovely boat in the Yacht Haven Marina. Staying on a boat sure does beat a hotel room. Just another reminder of how amazing it is to cruise (with your own bed!). We travel onward today…
You may have gathered that we’ve been land lubbers since my last blog post (almost a month ago… woops!), so this post’s subject is easy – where are we now? And, where have we been?
First of all, I have to reiterate the awesomeness of Sydney by water. We were able to live in and get to know many wonderful neighborhoods: Manly, Neutral Bay, Cammeray in Middle Harbour, Blackwattle and Rozelle Bays off Glebe, Drummoyne, and Balmain. I’d like to think that our knowledge of the city is quite comprehensive. Our love affair with Sydney could’ve lasted much longer, but the relationship soured just a touch when Hydroquest sold and we had to start paying for accommodation on land. Ouch!
We’d sent home most of our warm clothes, but we couldn’t imagine being so close to New Zealand, and not going over there. Who knows when we’ll be back in this part of the world…? Lucky for us, we have a whole network of cruising friends who spent the cyclone season in NZ. Early April seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with some of them before everyone sails back north.
If you’ve been paying ridiculously good attention to this blog, you may remember our friends Jean and Stephanie from Mexico (our last time together was Jan 2013 in Barra de Navidad, so we never did get to have that celebratory ‘crossing’ toast together in the SoPac!). Friends Lionel and Irene we got to know in Banderas Bay and over many hilarious games of Pictionary in French Polynesia, but we hadn’t seen them since Moorea.
In addition to enjoying the company aboard Le Letty and then Kiapa, the highlights of NZ were: in Bay of Islands, picking mussels off the rocks at low tide (and dodging the big swells as they crashed in) for Moules Frites. Continuing our fabric lessons with Stephanie (my arms were too sore after lesson #1 to progress much further). Going for a sail on Kiapa in Whangarei Bay and watching out for cute little penguins. And getting to know Auckland and family friends Phili and Mark, who hosted us for a few nights in Mission Bay.
New Zealand was short and sweet. Bali is hot and cheap. We’ve found excellent accommodation here including fast wifi and all you can eat a la carte breakfast. A tasty dinner for two can cost as little as $9 (including beers). A perfect running and surfing beach is close by, and the sunsets are always gorgeous.
Needless to say, Life After Boat is pretty good. We are relaxed. We are warm. We have no boat projects. We aren’t worried about dragging anchor. We don’t have to prepare to go to sea in x number of days. We have lots of time for work. Yes, life is good, but we are boat-less… We have to get used to travelling without our home. We can’t look forward to where she’ll take us next. We can’t explore the way we are used to. Sometimes those boat projects are actually quite satisfying. And being at sea can be quite pleasant. Can’t forget the feeling of sailing into a new land…
Hmm. We also have a lot of time for Yachtworld.
We flew back to Sydney on March 1st. Oh, the wonders of air travel…
A week after our arrival we moved Hydroquest (who, by the way, won versus the birds!) to a mooring at the Balmain Marina. It’s an excellent location and also the site of the Sydney office of David Bray Yacht Sales. We’d made it clear that we weren’t interested in selling HQ prior to our return in March and that, in fact, a sale into April or May would be just fine. But we met with George and mentioned that Hydroquest was ready to be shown. Two days later we had an offer.
Needless to say, things moved quickly, and we were relieved to have already flown home with four very large and very heavy bags of ‘stuff’. We were able to move our remaining ‘stuff’ off Hydroquest in a couple of days. Where does all this ‘stuff’ come from! We’re turning into an anti-hoarders …. “Throw it out, throw it out!”
So yesterday we said goodbye to Hydroquest, our First Sailboat… no future boat will ever have that Title. Of course there were tears, hugs, and kisses. Obviously neither of us are feeling much connection to our material objects, but Hydroquest herself is a different story. She’s taken us to amazing places and she’s been our protector across the big Ocean, so much more than just a home. A relationship with an offshore boat is a special one and we’ll always remember her as boat we loved.
I’m getting teary about it all over again….
Hydroquest will have the pleasure of continuing to enjoy sailing in Australia – lucky girl! You may wonder about our future plans… We will stay in Sydney for at least another week or so but Australia starts to feel awfully expensive when accommodation costs are thrown into the mix. We’ve loved our time here but other places (in the Southern Hemisphere) are calling our name. We’ll keep you posted.
When one adventure ends, another one begins.
Hydroquest, our home and the real ‘rockstar’ of our Pacific crossing, is for sale in Sydney, Australia. Yes, this was always part of our plan, but it’s been an emotional few days now that it’s official.
Without the confidence we had in Hydroquest, our voyage would not have been possible. We would not have had the experiences we had, or seen the things we have seen.
We’ll be back in Sydney in March to ensure she’s still in tip top shape and to eventually say goodbye. Just like us, we know that she has more more adventures in her future.
Please don’t stop checking up on our blog; it’s not ending!
HYDROQUEST LISTING: http://www.justsail.com.au/beneteau-405/
Turns out that Sydney Harbour has a lot of birds. During our action packed five day trip to Melbourne (thank you Browns for hosting us!), a whole flock of flappers took up residence on poor Hydroquest. Her solar panels, boom, and dodger suffered the worst.
This will not happen again. HQ now looks like a fishing trip gone very wrong.
It took us eight months to sail here, but we’ll get back to Vancouver after 28 hours of travel…