John had shinsplintsjohn-sad on his right leg one day and achy thigh muscles the next. Tylenol seemed to take care of the problem over the next couple of weeks, but he groaned a bit too much for my liking as he lumbered about the deck, climbing the mast, stepping on and off the boat, and balancing as if he’d never walked our pier before.  He grumbled when I teased that he “walked like an grumpy old man.” Then, on Saturday, September 24th, like on ‘Let’s make a deal’ we got stuck with an interesting prize behind curtain  #1.

The sky was overcast, but the weekend weather forecast hopeful, as we motored Dolce Vento into the Bay for a sail to the Choptank River for a couple of days at quite anchor.  As we rounded the red mark “1”,  coming out into the Bay, the waters were uncharacteristically turbulent, causing Dolce Vento to lunge up out of the water for six feet, then plunge down as we pushed through under power.  In these conditions,  sailing is punishing for all but the young, well-crewed, most-hardy, and risk-seeking boaters.  That definitely does not describe us and our 60’s something bodies.  Our weekend sailing plans were smashed.  Another day would be a better day for sailing and we had three weeks before we would leave to go south, so we voted unanimously for a land based adventure — shopping and dinner.

img_0660By the time we arrived home that evening, John had left his broken shoes at the store and come home with three new pair, but could barely walk.  Four years after the replacement of his left hip, the osteoarthritis in his right hip announced itself two years ahead of his doctor’s prediction.

That night I didn’t sleep as I envisioned the alternatives and came to grips with a verdict that could not be changed.  The next morning, Sunday, while the laundry washed and we swayed in hammock swings overlooking  sun sparkled marina’s waters, we admitted that John can no longer maneuver on the boat. Climbing up and down the companionway and stepping on and off the boat at dock is about all he can handle.

If we can’t go south, neither can we spend the winter living on Dolce Vento at the marina with its icy docks and frigid waters while John recovered from hip replacement surgery. He needed one floor living with easy access and physical therapy.  So, we turned on a dime.  Within 72 hours, Plan B was in place, a smooth series of October events to get us and the boat safely ensconced for the winter.

  • October 5 week — Have six portlights rebedded to stop rain water leaks
  • October 12 — John meets with orthopedic surgeon to schedule surgery
  • October 20 week — Dorine and John move into week temporary furnished “millennial hip” living quarters to live out the winter in comfort
  • October 24 week — Dolce Vento gets engine service and winterization
  • November 1  — Dolce Vento is hauled out onto land for winter storage
  • During November — Dolce Vento is shrink wrapped for winter
  • During November  — John undergoes surgery

Plan B concludes with us returning to boat living in April, sailing the Bay for the summer, then heading south next September. We are happy that we’ll have a full season of sailing on the Bay to hone our skills with this big boat.

But wait, there’s more!  Our slip was rented out from us (we were going to be gone October 10th) so on October 11 Dolce Vento must be moved to the sister marina until the end of October.  Reservations were made.  It’s now Plan B1.

epa_hurricane_matthew_01_as_161003_4x3_992But wait, there’s more! Hurricane Matthew is headed up the U.S. east coast.  There’s a good likelihood it will stir up big trouble in the Chesapeake.  Today, we moved to Plan B2, Dolce Vento engine service and winterization will be done this week and then hauled onto land on Friday or Saturday (October 8).  We moved our apartment move-in date to October 16, but must find a place to live in the interim.  Guess it’s time to use  those Hilton points we earned by charging all that boat work to our Hilton points credit card, or, as Blanch cries in Tennessee William’s ‘Glass Menagerie’, we must ‘rely on the the kindness of strangers’.  Reservations at the sister marina are cancelled.  Hotel reservations are made.

In the next three days, to prepare  for hurricane strength winds and winter storage, we must remove and stow the Genoa and the stay sail, deflate and stow the dinghy, remove the dodger and Bimini around the cockpit, and clean the decks of loose items, lines and fenders.  Inside, we must remove our food stuffs, some of our clothes, and organize the cushions so air will circulate.

Even I get tired thinking about all of it.