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On March 24th we moved back aboard Freedom.  As our friends, Chris and Larry, sailed our yacht back from Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas to the marina we chose, Harbor Towne Marina, we settled into marina life.  It’s been pretty much a drag.

To catch up, the reason we are sitting in a marina in Dania Beach, Florida is entirely because of the blood clot issue in Chuck’s left leg.  After our initial appointment with the recommended vascular surgeon at Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida we were referred first to a hematologist.  The reason:  to see why Chuck’s blood was clotting.  The hematologist’s disposition:  it honestly didn’t matter why his blood is clotting, the management is the same…oral blood thinners.  Which, of course, he is already on.

A week or so later, we had to go back to the vascular surgeon for a follow up appointment.  The remaining sutures from the surgery in Nassau were removed and we were advised to stop bandaging the wounds.  Though the incisions were continuing to weep a bit, the amount was way down.  The swelling in his leg had gone down considerably over the previous weeks and the surgeon wanted these wounds to start drying out. 

Cool, so far.  All was good.  And, then he brought up the popliteal artery aneurysm   behind his left knee.

When Chuck had his surgery in Nassau the vascular surgeon indicated to us at that time that Chuck had a popliteal aneurysm behind his left knee that would need to be addressed.  He told us that because of how extensive the blood clots were in his legs that needed to be removed in the initial surgery he had decided to forego repairing the popliteal aneurysm at that time…which would have added an additional 3-5 hours onto an already five hour surgery.  However, we would need to have the issue addressed once we got back to the states he said.

Our vascular surgeon here in Florida decided it was time for us to discuss the aneurysm.  Neither of us were real happy with what he had to tell us.

A popliteal aneurysm occurs right behind the knee where the femoral artery splits into smaller arteries that continue on down into the lower leg.  With such an aneurysm, the ballooning of the artery causes a bit of turbulence inside the artery which then makes the area a prime location for a blood clot.  Should the aneurysm form a clot at this point, blood flow to the entire lower leg is cut off.  Once diagnosed, if left untreated and not repaired and the size is 2.5 cm or more, the statistics say there is a one in three chance of the patient losing their leg to amputation within five years.  The only fix: surgery.

The above paragraph is, unbelievably, almost the good news.  The bad news is that in 50% or so of patients if there is a popliteal aneurysm in one leg there is a huge chance that there will also be an aneurysm in the other leg as well as in the aorta itself!

Holy shit, this was getting entirely out of hand all of a sudden!

So,

Chuck had already been through a series of ultrasounds that had revealed and confirmed the aneurysm in his left knee, but the ultrasounds for the aorta and other knee were inconclusive.  So, he was scheduled for a series of CT scans to absolutely determine the status of his arteries not only in both legs but his aorta as well.

The result of the CT scans revealed that the surgeon in Nassau, in the opinion of our US surgeon, had done an “excellent job of restoring blood circulation” in Chuck’s left leg.  The circulation in his right leg was also very good with no signs of clots whatsoever.  There was a 2.5 cm aneurysm in his left leg.  There was no aneurysm in his right leg, nor was there an aortic aneurysm of any size or kind.  The bottom line was that with the exception of the popliteal aneurysm in Chuck’s left leg that would need to be repaired, he showed no other signs of any arterial disease.  The surgery would require a stent be inserted into the artery via an incision in his groin.  That would be the more conservative approach.  After consultation with an Internal Medicine specialist, Pulmonologist, Cardiologist and Anesthesiologist, we scheduled the surgery ASAP, it was to be May 26th.

Seven days after the surgery, there would be a follow up appointment.  Eight weeks after the first follow up appointment will be another follow up appointment.  After the first follow up, we can sail down to Key West, Cuba again if we like, Dry Tortugas, etc.  After the second follow up, we can head back out and down island.  We are already lining up crew for next Fall.

So, we asked all the right questions, did all the right research, looked at all the options, and saw all the right doctors.  Now it would be in the hands of the surgeon.  He was supposed to be one of the best, literally. 

We prayed.

On May 26th Chuck indeed had the procedure to insert a 25 centimeter long (roughly 10″) stent into his popliteal artery.  All went well…last Friday we went back for the one week follow up.  Things continue to go as anticipated.  We are now free to travel with the boat for the first time since March 10th; the next follow up appointment is in eight weeks.  Regardless of where we are, in eight weeks we will be back here for his doctor’s appointment.

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Life here in Harbor Towne Marina is not all that great.  It’s somewhat like living in a scuzzy subdivision except the home is the boat.  I dare say there are few people who would trade living on the hook for being tied up to a marina.  For the better part of four months, virtually all last winter Freedom was at anchor somewhere or the other in the Bahamas.  To go from the gorgeous water and wonderfully friendly people of the Bahamas to the somewhat industrial, power boat oriented, Harbor Towne Marina here in Dania Beach is a several orders of magnitude drop down in ambiance.  What few people we do see are not all that friendly, we are about the only live-aboards in our section, and our view is, well, the pits.  We have gone from having coffee each morning in the cockpit watching for sea turtles and admiring other boats in the anchorage…to drinking our coffee below decks and watching Perry Mason reruns on TV, preferring that over sitting in the cockpit and watching the fork lifts go back and forth into the boat storage sheds.  We’ve gone from our dinghy to a rental car.

Definitely we’ve taken a step backwards.  Both of us are fed up to the brim with our current location.  It is serving its purpose though.  It’s clean and well run.  We are fairly close to the medical facilities, at about thirty minutes.  Close to the beach, Hollywood Beach is about fifteen minutes away…Ft. Lauderdale is only a couple of miles away…grocery stores are close and handy, as are very nice restaurants.  But, the time on the boat just sucks and both of us are quite ready to leave.

One thing we did do was sell our dinghy and get a new one.  If we learned one very important thing last winter in the Bahamas in particular, and since we’ve been out this past year and a half it’s the importance of a good, dependable dinghy.  Our old dink had a rock solid 2-stroke Yamaha 15hp outboard; it started on the first crank virtually every time.  The Yamaha set on a West Marine 11’6” RIB…that was less than adequate.  The RIB was heavy, too long, and had a leak in it we couldn’t seem to ever fix.  Chuck and I both being pretty hefty people, the rig was just too damn slow.  It just didn’t work for us at all, from the get-go.  We put an advertisement in Craig’s List and a sign on it at the marina.  Within a couple of weeks we got a good offer and it was gone…and we were glad it was gone.

We replaced the old dink rig with a new, cooler and faster rig.  It’s an AB, 10’6” Mares Series, with a 30hp Honda outboard…molded console, navigation lights, bilge pump, electric start, power tilt.  It’s two years old, used, but we got it for a great price.  Compared to the old dink, the new one is a sports car…it flies.  We put it in the shop right off to have the engine tuned up, looked over, etc.  But, it should be exactly what we need, albeit, twice as heavy.

One might ask why we intend to sail down to Key West and spend the summer there, in yet another marina?  Well, it’s almost the lesser of two evils.  Here in Harbor Town, we are probably at least an hour away from the Atlantic and a place to sail.  Any anchorages are in the ICW, not really an improvement.  It’s congested, bat-out-of-hell drivers in heavy traffic, less than the most friendly people on Earth, and little to do that doesn’t kind of end up sooner or later a pain in the ass.

Down in Key West, Stock Island Marina in particular, we know a few people.  The marina has liveaboards in it, people are friendly.  One is mere minutes away from the Florida Straits, Key West is a hoot, traffic is light and motor scooters are cheap, Marathon is close, Cuba is a day sail one way, Dry Tortugas is a day sail one way as well…the water is prettier.

So, if we are going to have to spend the summer here in Florida, continuing to recuperate, we’d rather do it in Key West than here in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.  This area is not bad (beats the living hell out of Texas for damn sure) but we’d prefer to live in Key West.

However, though we are free to travel, unfortunately that doesn’t mean we can.  Why?  Why, the weather, of course, what else.

We are smack dab in the middle of south Florida’s rainy season.  Every single day for the next 14 days, according to the long range forecast, there is anywhere from a 50% – 90% chance of thunderstorms.  It’s the same for every station we check in the Keys…Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West.  Every morning for the past ten days we have woken up and gone to sleep at night to the sound of rain.  Asking the locals around here about the weather they tell us if the weather holds to the norm we can count on the next three or four weeks being as it’s been for the past two or so…rain and thunderstorms.

So…we aren’t going anywhere soon.

Not going anywhere soon has become an issue of sorts as of late.  Not insurmountable, but worthy of regrouping.  The reason:  our new dinghy.

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Our new dink is way cool.  But, it’s also weighs considerably more, at about 450#, than the old one, and it is this added weight that requires consideration.

We have davits.  And, the davits are adequate to lift the new dink.  We know the davits will haul the new dink because we have tried to do it; they will work.  But, they really are not adequate to launch the new dink like we’d like to.  As well, we are going to throw in the towel on a bit of solar energy as well.  In short, we are going to have new davits made and think we may use a fabricator our friend Justin Smith used.  If we do use that fabricator, we have to get further down in the Keys…another reason we need to get down to Key West.

However, if the weather is going to have us marooned here in Dania Beach for the next month, we might just hang here for a while and have the dink davits fabricated here.  Over our daily walk today we decided to at least get a couple of quotes on what we want from local fabricators here in the Lauderdale area while we are waiting.  Can’t hurt.

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One Comment

  1. You haven’t posted in a while. Hope all is ok. Rick


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