Sunday, March 18, 2007

 

The final posting

When we created this blog it was "The cruising adventures of Karen, Jeff, and Tucker aboard M/V aCappella." Sadly, that has unexpectedly ended. This will be the final posting.

We've heard it said that there are just "dog people" and "not dog people." We assuredly are of the first group. Tucker was our family and our life.

We know when a dog finds us that we are striking a bargain. They will love us totally and unconditionally. We will bask in that love and see them through their old age. We know when we do it, that day of pain will surely come but we do it anyway because the reward is so very great. We were cheated in our bargain. Our pain came too early.

In the life of every "dog person" there will come one dog that will touch them in a most profound way. We believe that Tucker was that dog for us. He was the most affectionate and loving creature that we have ever encountered.

In our head we know that we will be happy again and will let that next love find us. But our hearts and souls can't believe it right now. Thank you for the many emails, comments and thoughts we have received. Your love has helped.

For us, we are not continuing on to the Bahamas. We doubt that we can manage to bring the boat home to Maine. In fact, we're not sure we can even keep this boat any longer as much as we love her so. "Dog people" may possibly understand this.

We'll close with pictures celebrating our puppy. Rest in peace, Tucker. We will never, ever let you out of our hearts.















(please slowly click videos twice to view)
















Thursday, March 15, 2007

 

Tucker...


He was the most affectionate dog we have ever known. He was most happy when he was with other dogs. He loved to catch a frisbee. And dinghy rides. And being near people. And he was such an integral and important part of our lives.

Cancer took Tucker today. We never really got to say goodbye. It wouldn't have been fair to allow him to come out of surgery - he wouldn't have lived past the recovery. There were no signs and symptoms until it was too late. He had the very best of care available anywhere. We've searched for some type of answer. There just isn't one.

We don't know what we're going to do. We can't move the boat right now. We just need to swing around the mooring we're on until we can somehow pick up and move on.


Karen & Jeff

 

It's bad...

Tucker had many tests this morning. He was poked, stuck, X-rayed, and analyzed. The results were evaluated by two veterinarians. The facility that he's at is exceptional. It's more of an animal hospital than a clinic.

He's getting blood transfusions now. He'll be in surgery this afternoon. He has some type of growth on his spleen. It is most probably hemangiosarcoma - a common aggressive cancer in dogs. There was no way to know that he had it and there was little that could have been done. He hid it so well showing minor, if any signs of tiredness. The videos of him yesterday don't show a sluggish dog. If he were here now, he'd be calling to the dolphins swimming around the boat.

There are some other remote possibilities but you can see in the face of the surgeon that the probable outcome here isn't good.

We'll be at the hospital this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

 

Vero Beach

It was an easy ride down the ICW to Vero Beach. We left around 9 and entered the lock that separates the ocean tidal waters from the ICW. Locks take some practice but we've done a few and it was pretty easy.



After the lock, we transited through the Barge Canal (I always say Canal Barge for some reason) and turned south onto the ICW. After a handful of hours we reached Vero Beach and pulled into their municipal marina facility. We're on a mooring (#49) in this protected and lovely spot.

On the way down Florida's ICW we continually pass dolphins. Tucker has a special relationship with dolphins. He has this high-pitched, different type of bark that he uses to call them. Dolphins mainly play in boat bow wakes but Tucker stands on his stool in the stern when calling for them. Interestingly the dolphins line up at the stern of our boat and jump and play there squeaking back.



Tucker's vet appointment is at 8:30 am tomorrow. Gene is picking us up at 7:50. Now I just have to convince Karen that she would be way better than me at collecting a urine sample from Tucker for the appointment...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

 

Tucker is sick...


He doesn't want to be sick. He wants to be in the Bahamas where he'll swim, see his old cruising dog friends, and shuck coconuts. But there's something wrong and we can't go until we know.

His urine has gotten very dark. It could be a sign of dehydration or it could be something worse. He often doesn't drink when the engines are going and we're aware of that. We noticed this dark color a few days ago and even though we just finished a double-overnight passage, we got him to drink a lot (he can't resist playing with the hose even if we're 20 miles offshore).

We talked to our vet back home and have done a ridiculous amount of research on the internet about canine biological systems over the last few days. There are people who have had open heart surgery who haven't had as much research done as we've done with Tucker's amber urine. The bottom line is that we have to see a veterinarian.

There is a veterinarian in the Abacos. The important word there is "is". There is only one and he runs between all of the different islands. It would be a mistake to leave for the Bahamas when we can have great care right here. So we've modified all our plans. We're leaving for Vero Beach tomorrow where we'll stay until Tucker has some tests done. His appointment is at 8:30 am on Thursday. Gene and Kathy from back home who Winter in Vero Beach are helping - it would be very, very difficult to pull it all together without help from people we trust. When we get a green light to go, we'll figure out a different path to the Bahamas from there.

There is no way that I'd consider any other compromise to getting him back to full health.

Monday, March 12, 2007

 

Going, going, going...

The long period waves continued through the night. We came to the inlet for Fernandina Beach and watched it go by - we're gonna keep going.

Being alone during a night watch can be scary. It takes some getting used to and you have to learn to trust your instruments. Night vision is important and every light and LED must be kept dim. We put blue tape over many of the lights to cut down on the light emitted too. With good night vision, you can see an amazing amount especially when the moon is overhead. Unfortunately, the cell phone doesn't acquire night vision so you're going to get a limited view in the video.



At one point in the video I say that the Palm is showing we have 4.9 nautical miles left to go. I meant 4.9 hours. I can't edit video on the mobile phone (yet!).

When the sun came up we decided to keep going to Cape Canaveral. We'll see Fernandina Beach another time. For now, we'd like to take advantage of the good weather. This means another overnight - our first back-to-back set.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

 

Undocking Charleston...

What a beautiful day in Charleston, SC. Mid-70's, sunny, calm waters. We couldn't have designed a better day. At 1:00 pm, we undocked from the Charleston City Marina. This shows a little about what it is like to pull away from a dock with aCappella.



A couple of hours later and we're in open water about 5 miles offshore. There is a big difference in comfort when you have long period waves like the ones we're experiencing today.


Friday, March 09, 2007

 

Charleston City Marina



As we expected, we're "stuck" in Charleston until the weather clears. It's pretty rough offshore right now. We're on the MegaDock at the Charleston City Marina. This is one of the best facilities that we've come across - it is always nice to stay here. They just drove us to Harris Teeter's (a high-end grocery store in the Carolinas and Virginia) and brought us back. We're doing some small projects on the boat so we'll have more free time in the Bahamas as well as seeing our friends here.

If we could choose a place to be stuck away from home, we'd choose Charleston any time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

 

Deal or No Deal...



When we left New Bern we knew the weather might be a problem. It was a breezy passage to Beaufort. As we exited the inlet it became rougher and rougher. I looked over at Karen and knew this wasn't going to work.

We got to the end of the inlet and turned away from Charleston toward Cape Lookout. An anchorage listing in ActiveCaptain led me to an incredible anchorage (thanks, Phil!). It was huge, protected, and no one was there. I let out 200' of chain and we didn't move an inch.

In the morning we had a difficult "deal" to choose: 1) take off now in somewhat better conditions, or 2) stay at anchor or in the area probably for 3-4 more days until acceptable conditions materialized.

We left.

It was pretty rough at first. We were in 3-5' following seas which were growing rougher. NOAA had promised better conditions as we moved south. For once, NOAA came through. We started seeing 3' waves which diminished further as the sun started to set.






We arrived in Charleston at around 8 am. We're at The City Marina studying the weather reports and charts for our next leg to Fernandina Beach. It's the exact same deal or no deal situation once again for tomorrow...

Monday, March 05, 2007

 

We're off...







Two quick videos taken as we pulled out of our comfortable marina to enter the unknown of the sea. The first is pushing the throttles forward to move us out of our slip. The second is moving through the Trent River Bridge. Karen and I communicate through headsets so she is talking to me as I'm filming - but you're only seeing one side of the conversation on the video.

The forecast isn't great and I'm a little worred. We decided that we'd get to Beaufort and see what it looked like offshore. We have an anchorage picked out (behind Cape Lookout) and we know a couple of marinas around there. We'll be there around noon and will have about an hour to make the decision to go or stay. The forecasts have been dodging in and out of our comfort zone. That in and of itself causes discomfort! We'll see when we get there. We're in no rush. It's the journey, right?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

 

We're wimps...


(Click on the graph to show it larger)

We could leave today but we're wimps. The sea conditions are just within the limits of our comfort zone but that is only if the predictions of lower wave heights materialize. Since this is going to be an overnight passage to Charleston and since we haven't been on the boat in a while we're being a little over-cautious and staying in New Bern for another day.

buoyweather.com is a wonderful resource for boaters. I love it. When we are cruising I pay $10/month for it to get extra predictions and extra graphs and charts. It is free for 2 day predictions and simple graphs. The graph above is one of the many additional ones you get when you pay for their service. This graph shows wind on top in blue over wave height in colors dependent on their period. The lower the period, the more choppy the waves. This chart is for the offshore area between Beaufort, NC and Wilmington, NC. It tells me that the winds will be pretty brisk over the next few days (and mostly behind us) and that waves are around 6 feet this morning reducing to under 4 feet tomorrow and Tuesday (and mostly following seas). The pink color of the wave height tells me that the low period will mean choppy waves instead of rolling, nice waves. I'd rather be in 6 foot waves with a 15 second period than 3 foot waves with a 5 second period. Still, the reduction in sea conditions happens tomorrow and Tuesday. That is a safer time to go. Especially for wimps.

Friday, March 02, 2007

 

Videos...

The front that came by was pretty huge. Winds have been gusting to 45 knots with downpouring rains and rough sea conditions. It has settled down a little but it will take a couple of days to head offshore with safety. It's an amazing 75 degrees right now. The warm wind feels strange.

If we're going to be stuck here I'm going to experiment with some longer videos. I took two - a quick walk-through of the inside and outside of aCappella and a short video showing the engine room. At times when I'm outside, it is very hard to hear what I'm saying because of the wind. It's probably better that way - you'd rather be watching the boat!

Enjoy!





Thursday, March 01, 2007

 

The day to leave has arrived (almost)...


After about 10 days of preparation, the deadline has arrived. Today is the day we're starting our trip south. Or is it?

There are a variety of places that I use for marine weather. NOAA is always a good source and their text broadcasts are the basis of almost all other data. Other web sites take that data and combine it with other sensors and models to give additional forcasting. I like buoyweather.com and have been using it for four years. One of the things it does is that it provides an overview display with green, yellow, or red flags. We use this in our decision about moving the boat. If the flag is green for the duration of the passage, we go. If it's yellow, we usually don't go unless we completely understand the issue and will be well-protected. In addition, sometimes it is yellow before moving to green and we're often willing to put up with slightly more difficult conditions with the knowledge (hope?) that it will probably get better. We never, ever move if there is a red flag. Period.

Today's leg would have had us going offshore, overnight from Beaufort, NC around Frying Pan Shoals and onto Charleston, SC. The overview from BuoyWeater above is for the area just offshore of Beaufort for today and tomorrow. Twelve foot waves at 8 second period? I don't think so. We'll watch this one pass over tied securely to our slip. It doesn't look like this wind will pass completely until the end of the weekend.

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