Broken Tendon forces a Change of Plan
27 January 2014 | Antigua, Falmouth Harbour
Len / Hot with occ'l Showers, Wind E'ly 5
Showers of rain and squalls rush over me as I sail north to Antigua, mainly close hauled. But it is exhilliarating sailing, with frequent changes of headsail to meet the changing conditions which keeps me on my toes.
On the 16th Dec. I anchor in Falmouth Harbour and do the inward clearance at Nelsons Dockyard. Falmouth is a calm but windy anchorage so the next morning I motor around to English Harbour where I anchor off the pretty beach in Freemans Bay, which is mainly protected from the wind.
That evening I bus into St. Johns and taxi to the airport where I meet with Cathleen flying in from Italy. We hang out at anchor for a couple of days, then have a fast downwind sail to Nevis where we pick up a buoy off Pinneys Beach. The place is almost deserted with only a couple of other yachts on buoys and almost no-one on the beach. We are tempted to spend Christmas there as the litle town of Charlestown is charming with it's colonial wooden houses and friendly atmosphere, away from the tourist hotspots.
But we have to get to St. Martin to meet Cathleen's mother Cate and her friends arriving on the 27th, so early on Christmas morning we release the buoy and motor to St. Kitts Basseterre where we need to do the exit formalities at the cruise ship dock. Unusually the wind has completely died off leaving a confused sea, so that evening we find our way through the tricky entrance to Dieppe bay which lies behind a shallow reef on the northern point of the island. Once in the reef's shelter the sea is calm but there is a 1 - 1.5 knot current running. We take a refreshing dip hanging on to a lifeline, then rig the dinghy and take a walk ashore. The village is in generally poor repair, the inhabitants likewise but friendly enough, and they advise us to moove deeper into the protection of the reef, which on return to the yacht we do, holding our breath through the narrow and shallow entrance. Once through it is even calmer and the current lighter. The air is damp with moisture thrown up by the crashing waves a couple of hundred yards to windward, and the noise pervading.
The next morning we stow the outboard and dinghy and prepare for our departure, but on lifting the anchor we find we are caught on a heavy chain. So we rig the dinghy again to run out the kedge anchor to hold the yacht while we clear the main anchor, but on heaving the kedge over the side of the dinghy I feel/hear a snap in my shoulder, and some pain.
I later find that I have broken the Long Head Tendon on my left bicep (and I am left handed). With the help of some local fishermen we re-anchor the yacht using both anchors, and then take the local bus into the capital to visit the emergency room. The waiting room is full of locals in carnival attire with various injuries but 4 hours later I get to see a doctor who refers me to the local Orthopedic surgeon the next day.
So the next morning it is another bus ride in to town. The diagnosis of the broken tendon is confirmed, but there are no facilities on this island to effect the necessary surgery. The surgeon suggests I get in touch with various surgeries from Cuba to Purto Rico to Bermuda, but all avenues elicit no response due we suspect to the Christmas season.
So I decide to take up the kind offer of my older brother in England to stay with them and get the surgery done there, hopefully on the National Health Service. After finding the anchor again caught on another chain and getting the help of the same fishermen to clear it at a cost of another bottle of whiskey and a few more dollars we sail up to St. Martin with Cathleen doing all the work of sailing the yacht. We meet up with Cate and friends, and secure the yacht in the local marina which is of course a dissappointment for them.
2 weeks later I am back on board having had the neccessary surgery done privately as cutbacks in the NHS precluded that avenue. Cathleen sails us to Antigua where we secure in the Catamaran Marina in Falmouth harbour, and she can catch her return flight to Italy.
And here I stay while I recover the use of my left arm. Doctors orders are 6 weeks in a sling, then 6 weeks of gentle no weight exersize before starting strength recovering routines, which will take months before I am back in shape.
So my plans of crossing Panama and the Pacific lie in ruins, but as one door closes another will open! But just which one remains to be seen. I am now considering finding a suitable crew to sail with me back to the Mediterranean in May and June, perhaps by way of Bermuda.