Becoming Mrs Argos

What stared out as a family sailing adventure around Australia has changed somewhat! Now its mum and the kids (now aged 17 and almost 15) working it out for themselves while cruising the Queensland coast!

24 November 2016
19 August 2016
03 August 2016
21 June 2016
25 April 2016
09 February 2016
07 December 2015
25 August 2015 | South Stradbroke Island
10 August 2015
06 July 2015
04 May 2015
24 April 2015
11 April 2015 | Southport
01 April 2015 | Southport

Six Months!

24 November 2016
Last week marked six months since the day I was galavanting around on deck, trying to save a bucket that had fallen overboard, lost my footing and fell…….leading to the whole broken leg catastrophe.

So much has happened in that six months, and most of it has been about me recovering!

I remember someone saying that once I was ‘healed’ I would need to learn to walk again and I kind of dismissed it as a euphemism for the hobbling around stage. But the reality is, once the wound was healed, and the bone knitted back together, I was only at the start of the process - learning to walk like a normal person also took time - and of course mixed in with all that was learning to climb and balance and get around on the boat, and in the dinghi's - things that made returning to my every-day life manageable.

Well six months later and I am pretty much back to normal. I do get fatigued. I can’t walk a long way yet and the idea of going ‘for a walk’ still feels a bit absurd - it's enough of a challenge to do all the walking I MUST do - I’m not yet ready for ‘recreational walking’! And there is still quite a bit of pain - mostly around the injury - deep inside my leg, where muscles and tendons were repaired too - which is worse if I kneel or overstretch and twist around awkwardly, which of course sometimes happens. But on the whole things are pretty good. Which means things are happening on board - many things.

I have been working on the deck. I finally finished the job I had begun the day I broke my leg - cleaning up the deck up near the bow-sprit. It only took six months but I got there in the end! There is need for a quite a bit more work on deck - some areas are showing a bit of wear and tear. I am not happy with how the deck paint I tried out last year has fared - it's not washed up well and has worn badly. So I shall reconsider what I use next time around. For now though I intend to just repair the patches that need it rather than work on the entire job.

I have been doing a lot of sewing - redesigning the back awning, and looking to make it more stable and less ‘flappy’ so that it can remain up when the wind picks up rather than needing to be pulled down each time a storm front approaches.

It is not quite finished, and can’t be finished until some eyelet grommets I ran out of arrive from the US (why is so much on the boat imperial and hard to get in Australia!!!!???), but despite that it is already feeling a lot better up there with less canvas whipping and flapping around. It's always been a great place to spend time -with seating for 6 or more comfortably, but showing signs of wear and tear and really needing a breath of fresh air! Not literally!

As soon as the awning is finished I will be sewing new seat covers, and then moving on to the bright work which is aging and needing some serious work. The spindles are in need of replacing, which is going to be a big job, working out how to get them all off, and then getting new wood turned and then putting it all back together. There may be some ‘remodeling’ involved while I have it all apart, but that’s not yet a certainty. I have had conflicting advice about how I treat the wood and am a little frustrated that sometimes in the past I have not been given good advice, creating an immediate good appearance at the cost of long term wood-health. But that’s life and we have to operate on the best advice we have at the time, and then perhaps when we know better, do better.

Three months away from the boat and the best part of six months incapacitated has left a lot to be done, but I remind myself that it's just like eating an elephant - you just take it slowly - one bite at a time.

Meanwhile on the home front there have been other changes. Erina is now land based, having moved into a flat with her sweetheart - though they are just a stone’s throw away in Southport and we still see heaps of her. It's different with just Liam and myself on board - but we are doing quite fine! And of course Liam is so great at doing all manner of boat jobs these days.

Life for Mrs Argos isn’t all about maintenance and running repairs, it's also great to be back on board and back to learning to handle my boat. At first it was a challenge just to stand at the wheel and help the kids with moving her, but gradually I have been able to manage more and more.

Recently I have had some little ‘adventures’ of moving into tighter, more crowded anchorages, moving around inside them and repositioning - something I have ever actually done before. I still hear that voice inside my head saying how hard Argos is to move, how she has a mind of her own, how tricky this is going to be, but I am finding that less and less troubling to me as I figure out how maneuverable she really is!

So we have become residents (albeit moving in and out weekly) of ‘Bums Bay’ proper! Yes, no more anchoring outside in the turbulent waters of the outer anchorage , where you are rocked all day and night by wash and wake from every vessel heading up the Broadwater, and jostled around all day by jet skis, fishing boats etc coming and going from the jetty. No these days we have discovered the bliss that IS the inner sanctuary of the bay! We have been able to open cupboards without having to hold them shut hastily if wake hits us, leave things draining overnight on the sink, and all sorts of teeny little things that used to not bother me but colour my daily life. It's peaceful. Calm. Serene. I hadn’t realised how peaceful, calm and serene it could be!

We have even mostly anchored near the beach and it's just lovely to look out the stern window in the morning when I get up and see the beach of Moondewarra spit right there, and to watch the lights of Southport as I get ready for bed at night.

We did have a great adventure the other day when we came back into the bay after a day out, and had trouble setting the anchor. A LOT OF TROUBLE. It was so perplexing. And it was so calm - it seemed crazy that it was so hard. We just couldn’t fathom it, or set it! It took Liam and I seven or eight attempts, by which time it had grown dark and in the end Kym from Artful Dodger hopped on board and gave us some wisdom, and then we held. After some thinking, talking and tea I worked out that we had actually never anchored on such a calm day and that’s when the penny dropped. We are so used to the wind pulling us back as we lay out our chain, our technique didn’t allow for enough reverse movement when there was no wind. Consequently we must have been fouling our own anchor and preventing it from setting. So lesson learned - never take a calm day for granted!

And as well as these things we have been busy working on several writing projects. Just a couple of weeks ago, with the assistance of neighbouring boaties who have a media and publishing business, we were able to release a mindfulness app for iPhone and iPad to support people I work with through my abuse-recovery network. There has been some progress on a few articles and books that have long existed in my mind only and ‘Becoming Mrs Argos’ of course grows along with everything else.

There is rarely a dull moment on the water - and while we sometimes have frustrating times, I still wouldn’t live a more ordinary life for quids.


19 August 2016
I’m listening to Coldplay sing about a place that. ‘…could be Paradise’ as I sit on my couch watching boats zipping around on the Broadwater out of my stern window…….yes I am home, and while my life is not everyone’s idea of Paradise, it comes pretty close to being mine.

I came home to stay on Wednesday after a brief visit on Monday to see if I could actually do it, and then a trip to my physio on Tuesday to go through moves and strategies and strengthening exercises designed to make all those manoeuvres more manageable.

While being incredibly grateful for the generosity of my Women Who Sail friend, Gail, it was such a thrill to pack all my clothes and the many books and balls of knitting wool I had accumulated during my stay and pile them into the car and head home! I was so thankful and at the same time so desperate to leave! Generosity of that sort touches a place deep in our souls and while I barely knew Gail at first I am sure we will always be friends now.

I was elated to drive home and after Erina kindly carried all my bags from the car and got them to the boat, even more elated to make a cup of tea in my own kitchen, unpack and allow myself the luxury of feeling ‘at home’.

Three months is an incredibly long time to be away from one’s home – I feel like I missed winter entirely even though I did have it elsewhere – but not having it at home leaves me feeling as if somehow time had stood still while I was away!

In a very strange way it’s actually a little easier for me to manage on the boat – rather ironic really. Although it wouldn’t have been possible before now.
I was using one crutch most of the time before returning and do still need to walk with one most of the time, and two for longer distances, and even the occasional motorised scooter around the larger shopping malls, but on board the boat everything is so close together and there are hand holds everywhere so while I am still not able to walk unassisted, I find I can get around quite easily at home! It’s only four or five steps to get water in the kettle and another four or five to put it on, two to the seat and if I need to go all the way to the bathroom it’s a whole 15 steps – mind you that does include 4 steps down and 3 back up each way!
The hardest thing for me to manage is getting into and out of the dinghy and on and off the boat. I have ‘ways’ but I am not yet able to do any of that alone so I am still a bit dependant, but each time I get on and off or in and out of the dinghy it becomes a little easier. I get to go out for coffee (thanks Andrew) with friends and the kids too, and because I now have a car, even getting to the shops is quite a reasonable possibility.

These is something so calming about being back in your own space, back in your own life. Just being able to sit in my home and watch my cat as he watches the birds, his slightly-out-of-reach friends, being able to cook for my kids again, take care of them, do a few of the less urgent cleaning jobs that are so patient, sleep in my own bed – these things are awesome, but it is the fact that my home is out of the ordinary – floating and gently rocking – where I can hear the waves on the beach just a short distance away, hear the birds chatter and see the dolphins as they swim by, these are the things that make my return home all the more dear – that it is a paradise of sorts – a calm easy lifestyle that I really do adore.

We had a little party on board on Wednesday – some of my boatie friends came over and we shared some champagne and celebrated my recovery – albeit not yet quite done – and talked and laughed till late (well boatie ‘late’ at any rate!) and each day different ones have checked on me to see if I need anything or am doing okay.

Yes, blue water and blue skies dotted with wispy cotton-wool clouds and other boats gently bobbing around me, the smell of salt in the air, the indescribable lingering fishy smell close to the shore……remind me that I’m home and home feels like my kind of paradise!

A Giant Leap Forwards!

03 August 2016
They say it takes a village to raise a child and what I have learned in this past few months since breaking my leg is that it takes a village to recover from a significant injury.

It has been 13 weeks. Yep - 13 weeks of injury, assessment, hospital, testing, x-rays, CT scans, splints, pills, surgery and pain since that one little fall - but now, finally, it has all changed. It’s a giant leap forwards!

Now my days are filled with exercise, visits to the physio and constant challenges to go that little bit further, dig that little bit deeper…..and move that little bit closer to being stable enough to be able to return home to the life on the boat that I so badly miss.

On Wednesday a week ago I attended the orthopaedic clinic and heard the words I had waited so long to hear – ‘You may begin to put some weight on the leg’.

I was ecstatic! I had gone to my appointment with hope that this would be the outcome, while holding on to as little expectation as possible just in case they still felt that my bones needed more time to be fully healed.

But this time the surgeon was happy with everything and sent me straight to see the physio.

It was THE most bizarre feeling to put my foot down on the ground and stand up for the first time on BOTH feet.

For 3 months I have worked super hard to protect this leg. Worked tirelessly to not slip up in the recovery period and put it on the ground even briefly, and every part of my being has been focussed on caring for the damaged bone and making sure that one small mistake in the recovery period doesn’t cost me anything in long term problems. And I did it! I got through that whole long time without a mishap.

And now it’s done and my job description has changed. Suddenly my role is not a passive one but a very active one and every day my focus is on doing rather than being!

I am seeing a great physiotherapist and in less than a week I have progressed hugely.

On day one of being allowed to bear weight I stood on my leg for the first time and became dizzy and faint. From there I have been able to walk more and more easily, gained strength and a little more confidence in my leg’s capacity to support me again and yesterday my physio (Charlotte) watched me walking with the crutches and said I was ready to go with one crutch alone. A graduation of sorts!

While I am not yet able to perform all the tasks necessary to be able to get on and off my boat, and can’t yet go home, I am able to be a lot more independent. I can now go out on my own, driving myself to medical appointments, meeting Erina and Liam out and about and while I can’t walk far, I am feeling delighted that I have this much more control over my daily life.

Which all leads me again to say how very much I have been blessed in these 13 weeks with such incredible support. The village I have had around me has provided me with a home to manage my life in during the time I couldn’t return to the boat, all the medical care necessary, and the support the children have needed to manage the boat in my absence.

These past 13 weeks have been hard in many ways, but how much easier they have been made by the availability of this village and I will never stop saying how much I have valued that. The boating community is simply awesome and I can’t wait to be back out on the water myself, in……well in not much longer.

My physio said our next session will be all about climbing – what an awesome thought, that I would be so close to making my return home……..

On being a patient patient

17 July 2016
On being a patient patient

It's almost 11 weeks now since that fateful autumn day when one wrong move saw me landing heavily on the deck instead of lightly on the next seat as I had intended, injured and barely able to move.
Autumn gave way to winter and winter has half passed and still I have not been able to return to the boat.
When I first left the boat to go to the hospital and have the injury examined I hoped the kids would be okay for the evening. Little did I know then what a journey I was about to undertake - I thought at worst I might be gone till late that evening and made sure they had all they would need! I had no idea what would unfold for me.

When the radiologist came out from where she stood to take the films and said it looked quite bad, I still had no idea what was going to be ahead of me. I pictured a cast and wondered how I would be able to get on and off the boat – my first glimpse into the coming days. But it had been a long day and I was finally warm and overwhelmed by sleep so I nodded off without thinking too much about what the near future was going to look like. I had made sure the kids would be okay overnight and still thought little of what lay ahead for me.

When the orthopaedic registrar came to see me in the early hours and told me I would need surgery, and explained what a complex break it was, I began to understand that what I was facing was a little more complex than the torn tendon or dislocated knee I had thought I might have had but still remained clueless of the duration of recovery time I was looking at.

This injury has been very much a process of progressive revelation! If I had known right at the beginning that it was going to be such an incredibly long journey back to full mobility I would have felt quite overwhelmed.

So 11 weeks later I still have a journey ahead of me. I am a little over a week away from my next orthopaedic appointment. My expectation is that at that visit I will be given permission to begin to weight bear. At that point I will begin working with a physio and practice standing, then taking steps. Depending on how I manage that I will have a clue as to how to manage the next transition I face - going from walking frame and wheelchair to slightly less assistance in moving.

My goal of course is to return home but the complexity of the movements I will need to be able to make to hop into the Dinghi, climb up onto the boat, move from the side of the boat around to the hatch and then down below are not things I'm going to be able to do immediately. It will still be a step by step process (pun absolutely intended!!!) and it will still be a while before I can return home.

But the waves are calling me.

I returned briefly to the boat a couple of weeks ago when the kids were finally free to return Argos to the marine stadium area after having served the full time away required by the local authorities. We celebrated their being able to anchor more safely and among friends by having a little party on board. A couple of the fellas brought Argos in to the jetty for me - coinciding perfectly with the charter fishing boats who had all dropped off their passengers and were not returning for hours. So we tied up and I was able to get on board very easily by sitting on the back deck which was the perfect height, and then shimmy backwards until I was fully on. I was able to sit for the evening surrounded by friends, gently rocked and where I could hear, see and smell what I missed!
That was two weeks ago and the first time I'd really seen the boat properly since my fall. Homesickness has really set in since then!

But I have learned a great deal through all this.

I've learned how incredibly capable my kids are.
They have managed the boat, managed in harder-to-get-into anchorages, managed working from the boat and all the complexities of getting to and from work, sharing a dinghi while each working In different locations - not without the occasional mishap - dinghies not being where they thought the other had left it and having to catch a bus to another location, the dinghi deflating while at work and needing to be pumped up when they return late at night to go home, dinghies filling with water during a storm and the self-bailer failing, and yes, the bailing bucket having gone missing from the dinghi. Dinghi’s that were not quite as secure as expected haing to be retrieved from the rescuer! Their attitudes have been challenged many a time and tested but they have come out on top and leave me confident in their growing capacity to manage so much more than most kids their age.

My own biggest learnings have been about pain management and the challenges faced by people with mobility impairment.

I am not good at managing pain. I have a tendency to not be aware of it and to minimise it – I have lived with way too much pain in my life and while on some levels that might seem like a good thing, it isn’t always. I am learning. I am learning to call it what it is. I frequently have terrible nights where I can't sleep at all and spend hours wondering why, only to identify that I just can't seem to get comfortable. You'd think by now I would know straight away right? But no. After 8 births (most drug- free) I guess I have a fairly high pain threshold but I don't do myself any favours when I miss-label my pain as a bit of discomfort!

Having a metal plate in my leg and some whopping screws holding the break firmly together is a very interesting sensation. If it's cold then I feel it intensely. If I have been active - out in the wheelchair or sitting for a long time, my ankle still swells up massively and my whole lower leg feels like it’s trapped in an ever-tightening vice - or like I'm wearing a very, very tight shin guard as if I'm about to play a game of hockey. It's 'interesting' but also often quite painful and I am learning to call it that. I've never been one for taking pills but now the local chemist warehouse is my favourite shop and I visit the friendly staff there frequently!

I'm also becoming acutely aware of how un-wheelchair friendly our society actually is despite the perception that we do well in this area. Wheelchair friendly parking is great - though I don’t have a permit - if I had known at the start how long I was facing before getting my mobility back, I would have organised to get a temporary permit - but the unfolding process meant I didn't think that would be worthwhile for just a few more weeks, or a few more weeks...... Turns out that would have been very helpful.

But wheelchair parking spots are only step one. Then you have to find the gutter-ramp so you can get the chair up the kerb. Some places they are close and some you have to walk to the end of the street to go up, then shop and then return to the one ramp in the whole area to go back to the car. Some shops don't have a ramp and I just can't go there at all. Often in shops I find that people don’t make eye contact with me. I'm down low to start with but people also seem to make a bit of a judgement that I'm 'disabled' and therefore whoever is pushing me is the customer. They look over my head, around about, anywhere but AT me and I have to speak to them before they will look my way - even if I am waving my shopping and bank card at them!

I have become quite invisible - and yet I am still me - just me in a wheelchair.

Getting around is a challenge in so many ways – people dart in front of us, some oblivious because their heads are in their phones, others just so spatially unaware that they don't notice the chair at all until they are stumbling around it. We make jokes about the people we nearly clean up but it's not really much of a joke that people are so in-conscious of how hard it is to push an adult in a wheelchair or how hard to manoeuvre they can be.

I'm the winner here though because I will get my mobility back and I will bring this new consciousness with me. Me and those who have been with me on this journey.

So today, with a little over a week to go till my next set of X-rays and assessments, I focus on being patient. I work on my knee and ankle mobility. I can't weight bear but I work on other movements. I can lift my leg, bend my knee past 90 degrees and can almost straighten it. I can rotate the knee a little and the ankle quite well. I put my foot down on the ground and remember what it feels like to touch floors and I imagine myself walking around, climbing on board and returning to my life.

I miss my salty existence and I miss the sound of the waves crashing on the shore as I drift off to sleep at night, the gentle rocking motion of the boat at anchor but I appreciate the opportunity this experience has brought to me to learn stuff I never would have otherwise, and yes, my patience is definitely growing by the day!

Making Progress

21 June 2016
It has been just over 6 weeks now since the little fall that saw my everyday life be tipped on its head and me off the boat. I’ve learned a great deal in that time about myself, about what my kids can do and about the process of recovery from a significant injury as a boatie.

I must say, at the outset, that the boating community has been fantastic throughout this whole ordeal, from helping me get off the boat and to the hospital, through supporting the children to manage everything, and to assisting me with somewhere to stay while I am recovering. I really couldn’t have done all this without that community of givers, carers and kind-hearts.

It’s been 5 weeks today since the surgery on my leg. I had thought for a while that it was my delaying getting help that had resulted in the delay to surgery, but the more I understand about this process, the more I understand that the delay is fairly standard and that the inflammation we had to wait to subside was more about the injury and less about how long it took me to get seen to. I found that a great relief in many ways as I tended to hold myself responsible for that first painful 10 days before I could even have it repaired.

That’s all behind me now and I am happy to say that I am healing well. My wounds are all going great, the staples have all been removed (all 23 of them) and no, it was not exactly pain free! There has been no sign of infection or anything amiss, and because it was an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) rather than having an external cast on the leg, I have a pretty good range of movement in my knee and ankle and can comfortably straighten my leg. Each day I work on two things – rest and movement. Rest to ensure my bone has the best possible support to knit away inside, growing, building and doing all it needs to, and movement to ensure that I am developing and strengthening my capacity to return to a full range of motion in the affected joints.

In just over one more week I go back to the hospital for my next orthopaedic appointment. At that point there will be x-rays and examinations and possibly I will hear that I can begin some partial weight bearing which puts me closer to being able to return to the boat! It’s still some ways off but I can see the light of it glowing just a little further ahead.

Meanwhile the children have been fabulous. I mean that. They have done the MOST amazing things. Grown in the most amazing ways. I could not be prouder of how they have managed this very difficult situation.

It’s funny because I kind of delayed going to hospital in part because I was worried about how the kids would manage if I had to wait a while at casualty. Being off the boat for six weeks already and some still to come, was the furthest thing from my imagination and not something I ever thought manageable.

Each week while I have been off the boat, Gail, the sailor who so kindly invited me to recover in her home, has taken me to the various gatherings of the boating community. This has been awesome for me, so I have been able to stay connected with the kids and my friends but it has also been great for Gail who has struggled to get back to her boat since the tragic death of her husband. Now she too has become part of this little group and has even taken the first steps towards getting her own boat back in shape.

And the best thing of all is that it is now only a week until we are free to return to anchoring in the Marine Stadium area which means that finally we will be able to return to something that resembles normal! The children will be safer, they will be able to access their bikes again and ride to work, and be closer to the awesome supportive boaties who have made this experience so bearable.

Falling and breaking my leg so badly has also been an amazing eye-opener for how people with a mobility disability are treated these days. At ‘home’ I hop around using a frame to assist me to keep the broken leg safe, but out and about I use a wheelchair. Before this, if you had asked me, I would have said most places I go to are pretty wheel-chair friendly. I knew there were parking spots, ramps and accessible bathrooms. What I didn’t realise is how rarely these things all match up. Yes, there are parking spots, and ramps but often the ramps are nowhere near the shop you actually need, or not near the disabled spot, and you have to walk twice as far to get to every shop. Yes, there are disabled bathrooms everywhere but I cannot tell you how amazed I am at how many abled-bodied people that emerge from them, or the times mums tell me they ‘prefer’ the disabled loo because it’s easier with the kids, and they will only be a minute, little realising that this is currently my ONLY option, not my preference!

The other thing I have noticed is how people often don’t see me when I am in the wheelchair. I might be at the counter waiting to be served, but people look at Gail and not me, as if I don’t exist!

We have come a long way in our attitudes towards disabled people, but what I have learned is that we still have quite a long way to go and once I am back on my feet again there are definitely things I will be doing differently!

Identity Crisis! Am I Mrs Argos or Miss Hoppy?

30 May 2016
It’s been almost 4 weeks now since that fateful day where one little slip put me in hospital with a badly broken leg.
At first I had just thought I might have dislocated my knee, then after the x-rays they told me it was broken but I still thought we were talking about my knee.
Later that night the doctor sat down with me and told me the most unexpected news – that I had a depressed tibial plateau fracture which would require ORIF – open reduction internal fixation – and that I would have surgery first thing in the morning and then need to remain in hospital for 6 full weeks as I would not be able to return to the boat until I was able to bear weight on the leg. I was shocked and devastated to think that I had done so much damage in one small fall.
The following morning, I was again saddened to learn that the surgery couldn’t go ahead as my leg had swollen too much and I would have to wait a week for the repair – the thought of six weeks off the boat was hard enough – now it would be seven – I couldn’t believe it.
It has been an interesting time to say the least. And there has been a lot of learning and processing.
One of the things I have come to appreciate is that being brave and stoic caused me more pain than I had really needed to endure. If I had called an ambulance instead of patiently waiting for friends to help get me there, I would have had pain relief sooner. If I had mentioned at the hospital how much pain I was in, I might have been seen sooner, and if I had been assessed sooner I might have not had to wait a week for the surgery as the swelling would not have been so bad. Lesson learned – speak up! Don’t think it’s nothing, take the pain seriously and don’t worry more about being a bother to others, worry more about getting help faster!
I did survive that first long, slow, painful week before getting to surgery and finally 2 ½ weeks ago was wheeled into theatre.
At last!
It was awesome to be awake when I was taken in and I think they had to put the mask over my face just to shut me up so they could get on with the surgery, I had so many questions! But when I woke up it was a different story! Oh my! I’ve had 8 babies, six at home and some horrible miscarriages, but nothing matches the intensity of the kind of deep bone pain I woke up to. It took quite some time before the recovery nurses could get my pain levels under control and I was taken back up to my room but I was treated with such kindness and gentleness in that time and will always be appreciative to Shelly for her soothing presence and her softness.
Once back up on the orthopaedic ward the goal was to begin to recover and I knew it was going to be a long journey.
I could only hop on my good leg. My hurt leg was wrapped in bandages and in a splint still, like before the surgery and apart from the significantly increased pain, things seemed little different to before. But by the second day they had removed the bandages and I could see all my incisions – one long one for all the hardware inserted into my leg, and 5 others - for drains and the arthroscopy that was done at the same time to make sure the rest of my knee was all cleaned up, in addition there was one for where they had to push the bone back up in to place. Nice.
And the next day the splint came off! I was pretty scared at that – no cast, just all the nuts and bolts inside holding it all together – but they assured me it was fine and that the plan was to do as much movement as I could tolerate.
Normally people are encouraged to go home within days of their surgery but with my home being a boat, and being a boat at anchor, I presented the staff with somewhat of a challenge. They could not send me somewhere I couldn’t get to or function on, and so I had to stay until somewhere could be found. But there was nothing. Day by day I was making improvements and quite ready to leave the care of the hospital, but there was no program that could take me – I was too well-managing for rehab hospitals, too young for any kind of care homes and too well to stay on the ward……
And then the awesome sailing family I am part of stepped in. A woman I had met through the network Women Who Sail (a Facebook group) heard of my situation and volunteered her home. How amazing was that? I was speechless and so appreciative of her kindness and so plans were made for me to leave.
There was quite a lot to organise. To go to Gail’s home I would need a number of mobility aids. I cannot put any weight on my repaired leg at all for at least 5 more weeks and so to move around the house I must continue to hop. I needed to hire a ‘hopper frame’, as well as a wheelchair for bigger trips – like out to dinner on Tuesdays at the Fisherman’s Tavern (Marine Mirage) with my other boatie friends, and coffee’s at Diva at Marina Mirage that I regularly shared in. In addition, I needed a shower seat so I could safely shower and a frame to surround the toilet so I could manage that too. Suddenly I have been thrust into a whole new world and see things I never saw before.
Have you ever tried to open the door of a disabled toilet in a public building? I had no idea these could be so heavy. Or that the taps could be so hard to reach……I think we have come a long way in making places wheelchair-friendly but we still have a long way to go. And that’s only to mention two small things I have encountered – I know that by the time I am up and walking around again I will have gained a lot of insight into this area of life and will never again look at disability in the same way. That’s one of the wonderful aspects of this whole ordeal – how I have had this insight into how life is for many people.
And I have learned that hopping is exhausting! I do a workout just getting to the bathroom! It’s amazing how this one limitation has changed the way I function! I have put a bag on the frame so that I can carry things around – because it’s awfully hard to hold things while hopping, but alas I have yet to be able to hop with a cup of tea! Gail has been awesome at looking after me and while I work on independent actions, it will be quite some time before I can manage on my own!
Meanwhile the children have had challenges of their own. With my absence they have suddenly found themselves needing to not just look after themselves, but manage everything on the boat. And that has been far from easy for them.
Erina had a job interview on one of the first days I was in hospital and began working at Turtle Bay Resort in Mermaid Beach the following day. Suddenly I was gone and both the kids would be at work all the time! How life changes!
Early on Erina decided to cook ahead to make sure there were always decent meals available for them after busy days. She never does things by halves and ended up with over 30 meals! The freezer is full now of casseroles, Liam’s beloved Butter Chicken and goodness knows what else, all ready to be thawed and heated as needed.
I worried so much at first about how they would manage alone but after nearly four weeks I can happily say that they really are awesome. They have had so much to contend with – the food was the least of their concerns really! The biggest issues have been with the need to keep moving the boat (6 days in one anchorage and then 24 hours away in another, and then returning to the 6-day anchorage) as per the local rules. We have been so fortunate to have an awesome group of boaties around us who have offered to assist and so each time the boat needs to be moved someone goes with them. Both Erina and Liam are able to do the move on their own now, which is brilliant, but having someone there in case something goes wrong and to be a guiding voice, well that’s an absolutely wonderful thing. Thank you to everyone who has offered to help with this. There have been other challenges with the boat, but more about that next time.
And so I hop and move and rest and write and Liam and Erina manage and work and move the boat and that’s our life right now. Four more weeks and things will start to change again – and hopefully Miss Hoppy will be able to return again to being Mrs Argos.
But Mrs Argos will be changed and her crew – well her crew have undergone the most profound change through all this – a more capable pair of teenagers you will never come across. I’ve been proud of them in so many ways for a long, long time – but my pride in them grows by the day – they have managed a very difficult situation with such maturity and strength. I wish things could have been easier for them but then I think, what awesome things they have learned and managed and what a foundation for things that will come at them in the future. The had things v=become the making of us all.
Vessel Name: Argos
Vessel Make/Model: Gaff Rig Schooner designed by Jay Benford, built by Jack Stolp
Hailing Port: Albany WA
Crew: Sue Parry-Jones, Erina and Liam Jones and Capt'n Jack Sparrow!
After starting out from Albany WA in July 2011, we have faced some big seas, tricky situations and serious storms. We have learned to sail and learned to love the life of the cruising sailor. [...]
In the years since we started Erina and Liam have become fine sailors. Liam is a keen knot man and has created a plethora of decorative rope finishes on board, as well as being skillful at any knot-work required on deck. Erina is the the master of the galley and cooks up the most incredible meals [...]
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Argos's Photos - Main
6 Photos
Created 1 February 2012
20 Photos
Created 1 February 2012

Becoming Mrs Argos

Who: Sue Parry-Jones, Erina and Liam Jones and Capt'n Jack Sparrow!
Port: Albany WA