I had intended to catch up with Jae in the blog writing department long ago, but failed to do so. We have been gone from Annapolis for six weeks now and this is my first very serious effort at chronicling anything. To make matters worse, I don’t know what she has written, so some of this may be redundant. My apologies to the reader.
Today, we are at anchor in North Sound, which is on the north end of Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands, hereafter BVI. I count this as the first day of our “cruise” because we are anchored off a lovely little beach in calm clear tropical waters. It took five weeks to reach this point. I can’t recreate all of that time in this blog, but I will try to describe a few of the highlights/lowlights. I will say also that I think we have spent most of the time gyrating between high and low points. That might be the nature of this ridiculously ambitious trip, I don’t know yet.
This past August we decided to join a sailing rally to the Caribbean, called the Caribbean 1500. We had toyed with this idea for many years, always finding some reason not to go, most of those reasons revolving around my job. But, in August, virtually retired, it came down to either doing the rally or selling the boat and giving up on that ambition. We decided to push the envelope.
In making that decision, we greatly underestimated the amount of work and expense associated with the rally. To make matters worse, we had already planned to spend most of September in Europe, culminating in niece Emily’s wedding in London, which was a great event. We came home to a mountain of boat related tasks and spent nearly the entire month of October trying to prepare.
In part, having never done such a long ocean passage (approximately 1500 miles as winter storms are beginning to arrive on the East Coast), we did not entirely know what we needed to do. The 1500 is a long running rally that has a pretty high level of expectation around safety in particular. We thought we were in pretty good shape for safety, but then we received the rally handbook and saw pages and pages of safety requirements preparations. Some of them we could do ourselves, e.g. buy flares, while others, required further work from various marine experts we have used over the years. We pored through that handbook many nights, planning for the rally and giving scant attention to what would happen after we arrived.
On October 25, we slipped the lines and headed for Portsmouth, Va. We were actually going ahead with it! We left Annapolis as we had planned and arrived in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon, exactly as planned. And therein lies an object lesson for all who may visit us this winter – schedules are a bad thing! This may be a much more profound life lesson, though, than just a sailing aphorism. In the world of boats, people who seek to honor schedules are dissing Mother Nature and they almost always pay the price. She may be beautiful but she is not always forgiving. So it was for our trip to Portsmouth.
Here’s why. In a rather strange weather phenomenon, Pacific Storm Willa hit Mexico a few days before we left. Willa traversed southern Texas and became a nor’easter – in other words a Pacific storm that crossed North America and became an Atlantic storm. Who knew? Trump? Wilma’s continental crossing coincided with our long laid plans to travel to Portsmouth. We therefore paid close attention to Miss Willa, went to Solomons Island the first day and laid up.
As we started to turn in, we got a radio call from a boat named Moonshadow. Moonshadow was also bound for Portsmouth and the rally, but rather than take her time getting there like we were doing, she was going through the night to beat the weather. It was our first contact with another rally boat and its crew, Paul and Monica, are already good friends. In hindsight, we probably should have barreled on like Moonshadow did. They are more experienced in these things than we are. We respect that experience.
The next day looked good, so off we went to Virginia, making it to Fishing Bay, just south to of the Rappahannock River by midafternoon, a few hours ahead of Willa. We anchored before the storm hit and went below for a relaxing evening that included watching part of the World Series. The boat rocked all around, but we had absolute faith in our oversize Rocna anchor. It dug in so well that it was a challenge to get her up in the morning. But, we did, perhaps regrettably.
Having checked the forecast, I believed it was fine to leave for Portsmouth. Winds were forecast to gust to 20 mph, no big deal for Sirius. Pretty quickly it was 25 mph and gusting higher. The waves were very frequent, confused and sometime breaking. The boat was bouncing all over place. We were motoring at the time and our beast of an engine was taking care of us. There were few boats out with us, which always causes you to wonder why you are out there. Those boats were sailing and so we should have been. We had not raised the main when we left the anchorage because it was early in the morning and we wanted coffee and time to wake up before sailing in such conditions. In hindsight, perhaps not a good decision because by the time we were ready to sail, the conditions had deteriorated to the point where we had enclosed the cockpit and leaving it required foul weather gear and a life vest. From the cockpit, we first unfurled our heavy weather jib. I could not trim it very well, going to weather (the wind) as we were doing. I decided it was not fully hoisted (halyard was not tight enough) and that meant we were stressing the bottom of the sail. This was no time to tighten the halyard, so we furled it.
We motored on. A smaller sailboat with a small amount of sail was catching up with us. Even in near gale force conditions, this bothered both of us – we had almost never had that experience in the Bay! Competitive juices flowing in such snotty weather, we decided to raise part of the main sail, so I donned all my foul weather gear and after being duly briefed on safety by my wife, ventured out of the cockpit to prepare us to raise the main. We were very cautious and raised a very small amount. Not enough, so back into the wind and we raised more. This seemed to work pretty well and boosted our speed by more than a knot.
Faster speed was a great thing: we wanted to be out of this weather! Jae was a rock driving the boat. As always, I was the deck-hand, sent out on the deck with admonitions not to fall overboard (as if I needed to be reminded that going overboard was death). But we have a big secure boat and that was not really a concern. When a big wave was coming, Jae would yell that it was coming and I would squat down and hold on until it passed. No worries, mon! But after getting the mainsail all set and working for a little while, I noticed that our whisker pole (for non-sailors, kind of a battering ram that lives on the mast and has a useful purpose) had dislodged and was swinging around on the forward part of the boat. We decided that having any sail up was not a good idea, so we furled it, sloppily I must say.
Then it was time to deal with the battering ram that was flailing around on the foredeck. In addition to my foul weather gear, I put on my bicycle helmet. Jae and I had bought kayak helmets for such moments, but she persuaded me not to bring them and just to rely on the bike helmets. I put on the bike helmet, wishing I had the more protective kayak helmet. If you recall the Robert Redford sailing movie All Is Lost, you may remember he got hit in the head. When I saw that happen to him, I made two decisions, first to get a helmet on the boat and second, never to watch another sailing movie, unless it is a comedy. I will read serious books written by people who have serious sailing instead.
Anyway, up to the foredeck I went, wearing my bike helmet. To my amazement, I could not find the pole. I looked all over. I looked off the boat to see if we are dragging it. I could not figure this out. It can’t just disappear. After looking around for several minutes, I retreated to the cockpit, informing Admiral Jae that it must have been lost overboard, though I had great difficulty understanding how that could have happened.
With no sails up, we carried on for an hour. I texted our boat guru Steve that I had inexplicably lost the whisker pole. After another hour of bouncing all over the place, Jae suddenly exclaimed “I have found the whisker pole.” She pointed high in the rigging where, incredibly, the pole was stuck between two shrouds (wire cables that stabilize the mast). It was frozen in place and was now harmless. I couldn’t believe it was intact with no apparent damage – including to my head. I decided it could stay there until calmer conditions.
Eventually, we reached Hampton Roads and entered the Elizabeth River. Things calmed down. It was hard to believe we had been in a tempest a few minutes ago. At the marina, people greeted us and helped us fasten our lines.
Approximately 23 boats participated in the 2018 version of this rally. The rally activities began with a happy hour on Sunday night and continued with social events throughout the week. There was a series of lectures on two days on exciting topics like “What Goes Wrong at Sea” and “Medical Emergencies at Sea.” We went to all the lectures, took pretty thorough notes and ordered various items through Amazon during the lectures. Some of those items proved very useful, while many others we fortunately had no reason to use (turkey basters to administer enemas to severely dehydrated seasick crew members). In addition to the lectures, we had to pass a safety inspection. It is a pretty thorough review of safety systems and we had done our homework. We did not have the correct flares, which necessitated an Uber trip to West Marine to buy the last remaining ones in the Hampton Roads, and there were a few minor other matters to resolve, but no big deal.
Jae did some further provisioning and I endlessly packed and repacked the deck lockers, realizing we had too much stuff. We attended safety demonstrations on deployment of life rafts and proper use of flares. We attended a Coast Guard briefing on search and rescue efforts at sea. While it was very impressive and I am sure glad we have such a wonderful group of dedicated serviceman, the whole focus was on rescuing people at sea in bad weather, usually after they had made bad decisions about how to handle their circumstances. Jae coded all the ways we could contact the Coast Guard if this should happen to us. I was busy reconsidering whether we should go.
As the week in Portsmouth progressed, people became more relaxed, I think as their boats rounded into shape. While we had passed the safety inspection, we seemed to work like crazy people. The other boats had crew aboard who were sharing the workload, but our crew was not scheduled to arrive until Saturday, the day before departure. During the social evenings, we met many members of the rally. In my view, they all seemed very knowledgeable and experienced.
On Saturday, November 3, Steve Madden, our third crew member arrived. His wife, Wendy, was a last minute cancellation because of a serious illness, now resolved. Steve started going over various parts of the boat, making additional offshore preparations. I went to the captain’s briefing, which included a weather analysis, and the plan for departure the next day. I was rather surprised that in all of our meetings, there had been no discussion of weather until the day before departure. In my opinion, that was a big mistake by the rally team.
The briefing was held in a sports bar, where the rally used one giant screen TV in a cavernous room. The other three TV’s were showing college football games and a lot of people were loudly cheering for Clemson in one game. It was nearly impossible to hear the weather presentation. Are you kidding? We are getting ready to place our lives in jeopardy after being briefed in a noisy sports bar. As I think back on it, I cannot believe this actually happened.
As we learned at the meeting (in between Clemson touchdowns), the rally organizers proposed to leave as planned on November 4. They explained that there was a low pressure system forming off the coast of North Carolina and that we would leave Hampton Roads, turn south and parallel the Virginia/NC coast until we reached Cape Fear, which is south of Cape Hatteras, at which point we would turn east and cross the Gulf Stream rather quickly because it was quite narrow at that point. I no longer remember how far it was before the eastward turn, but I think it was probably about 160 miles or so. So, the basic idea was, go south into the maw of a developing storm at Cape Hatteras, right at the northwestern corner of the Bermuda Triangle.
There was considerable concern among the audience about leaving port and going into a storm. The rally organizers’ response (between more Clemson touchdowns) was that there was no wind farther south because of a large high pressure system and, for boats with limited diesel onboard, they needed to leave while there was wind farther north, so they could conserve diesel for when they needed it at the end of the journey. This logic did not really apply to us because we carry a very large amount of diesel. I missed that rather critical distinction, I guess.
The meeting ended with some disagreement about whether to go on Sunday. In the end, all but one boat did depart the next day (including those who carried more diesel than we do). We left with everyone else, which arguably was a poor decision. I did take comfort in all the other boats’ departure and in the respect I had developed for some of those captains.
3. The Trip To Nanny Cay, BVI
Thus, we left on Sunday morning, Nov. 4. We actually joined the race, getting a good start and tacking toward the ocean. Of course, the wind was in our face, which meant we spent too long trying to leave the Bay. Steve, the one who wanted to race, thought it was good crew building to make all these tacks. In hindsight, it just slowed us down.
Once out of the Bay, we turned south and had a close reach along the Virginia/NC coast for many hours. The water turned rougher and Jae was seasick. She went below and laid in the main salon. That night, Steve and I did watches. By the next morning, we were abreast of Cape Hatteras. The weather was awful. We were no longer sailing as the wind had shifted to the south and was blowing in our faces. We were also facing large swells and the bow was crashing down on them with ocean spray flying everywhere. According to the weather routers whom the rally had hired, the Stream was narrowest at Cape Fear, still several hours farther south. Against the wind and the seas we were making slow progress and it was very uncomfortable.
Steve and I decided to turn east and start across the Stream on the theory that while it was wider than at Cape Fear, we would have Stream-like conditions getting to Cape Fear, so why delay the crossing. This also allowed for a daytime crossing, which I preferred. I am not sure why I wanted to see the waves swirling around us, but I guess I did not like the idea of a night watch in the Stream with no moon.
As we turned east, the motion improved a little bit because now we were not crashing directly into the waves; they were instead off of our starboard bow. We raised sail and decided we would motor across as well to shorten the time in the Stream.
There is a video on the website that shows the conditions that day. It is the best record we have. I suggest you play it on a large monitor and turn up the volume as high as you can and perhaps turn the lights off. That might start to approximate the actual experience. As we took one wave after another from different directions, the boat would veer from one side to the other, like a drunk trying to get home. Neither side of the boat was comfortable because the high and low sides changed every 10 seconds or so. Jae remained below, still fighting seasickness. I don’t remember much of the crossing, except that the conditions were everything I had read about (and feared) and more. I found it surreal to be in such a grayscape of breaking ocean swells and foaming water. While the boat’s motion was relatively uncomfortable, I had realized it was safe and we were not going to be knocked over by any of these waves. I was surprised also at how much water was on deck all the time. Rivers ran down the deck on both sides of the cockpit. We sat relatively high and dry in the cockpit, but the sea had invaded the boat, decreasing our margin of safety. I am sure all three of us knew that if anyone went overboard, the chances of a rescue were negligible.
One of the many fears I dealt with during this trip is equipment failure. On that crossing, I was most fearful of losing the autopilot. Hand steering through the Stream would have been exhausting to say the least, and we would not have done as good a job as the autopilot. We needed it to work. Like most systems on this boat, I wished I had a better understanding of how it worked. After weeks and weeks of preparation, I was startled to feel that just one day out, we were not fully prepared.
As we entered the Stream, we had radio contact with a few other rally boats who were wondering what to do. One wrote me that he felt that rally had abandoned us and we were out there alone. We expressed our opinions to all who asked. A couple of boats continued south; one turned around. I don’t know if anyone followed us. During our crossing, we did see a few other boats. One named Zverever (I think) had left the Bay when the rally left and had kept pace with us. Now we saw that boat in front of us, heading directly south in the Stream, crossing our track. This foolish heading made me think it was a ghost ship, or at least a doomed ship. I called them on the radio and asked where they were headed. A woman answered that they were going to Bermuda. I suggested that they should be working their way east, across the Stream, not south and staying in it. She had no response to that friendly advice, but did ask for our latest weather report, which I shared.
We carried on east, with me consulting the various weather charts I had about the Stream’s current and direction. By late afternoon, we were through and the motion improved. Jae revived and wanted to eat. A good sign. I had hopes our marriage would survive.
We continued east for two more days. The purpose was to reach an eastern threshold where the northeast trade winds fill in and provide a nice downwind sail to the Caribbean. After much debate, we turned south around 63 deg W, having gone farther east than we had intended (please don’t ask how that happened). In the end, that might have been a good mistake because we needed every little bit of eastward progress to sail later in the trip. By this time, we were nearing Bermuda. The northeast trades were nowhere to be found and we alternated between sailing closehauled and motoring. Our watches fell into a steady rhythm and the specter of seasickness faded away.
On day 5 or so, the fishing rod began singing and before we knew it, Steve had hauled a 5 ft marlin aboard. He was very clever about cleaning it and ensuring that long spike on the front of it did not cause any injury. We froze some of the fish and I began cooking our lunch after we shared a little marlin sushi. It was delicious and provided a period of enthusiasm to all the crew. It also ended our fishing career because we now had all the fish we could eat on the trip.
We had two primary boat problems on the trip down. First, the aft port lazarette, a storage locker on deck, filled completely with seawater. We could not determine how it drained. Steve pumped it out one day and I realized that both our shore power cord and our single side band radio antenna tuner were in that lazarette. We relied on the SSB each day to communicate with other boats in the fleet. While we could hear everyone else, only the nearest boat, Karina, could hear us. We concluded this was a drowned tuner problem.
The second issue related to how fuel inventory. Sirius has five fuel tanks and can carry about 430 gallons of diesel. At an approximate burn rate of 2 gallons/hour, we can motor for about 10 days. Managing these tanks is a bit of a challenge, though, and we made a mistake by not filling up one of the tanks in Portsmouth. By about the sixth day, the rally informed us that a tropical depression was heading to the BVI and was expected to arrive by Tuesday morning. Rally boats could either continue on their course or divert to Bermuda or the Turks & Caicos to wait for the weather to pass.
To continue to the BVI required a certain rate of speed and enough fuel to maintain that speed, assuming no helpful wind. We had passed Bermuda already and did not want to divert. Our navigation computer showed us arriving on Tuesday afternoon -- a little late. We decided to press on, as did several other boats. But, that night, on my watch, the engine stopped. This was quite unexpected and I ran down trying to understand what had happened. I got it started again, but after an hour, it stopped again. I switched tanks, believing the tank we had been using was empty, even though our fuel log showed it was not empty. The engine ran fine for many hours and then it began sputtering. Steve surmised it had a dirty fuel filter that we needed to change.
We rushed to get the job done before it got dark. It was a messy job because you have to purge a diesel fuel line of air and that requires opening injectors, turning the engine over and getting sprayed with diesel while you close the injectors. I told Jae she could not come below while this was going on as diesel smell causes seasickness. Steve and I got it done, high-fived, and the engine began running just fine. I then discovered that we had two fuel tanks open, a full one and an empty one. I believe that over many hours that empty one had introduced enough air into the line to cause the sputtering. Had we just closed that valve, I don’t think there would have been any reason to change the filter. It took me a day before I told the Jae and Steve about my theory. Steve does not accept it, but I don’t that is rational thought.
By this time, we were still hundreds of miles from the BVI and the weather forecast had not improved. I did not want to drive the engine faster because I was worried that we would be burning fuel at too fast a rate. With a 1999 engine system, we are pretty low tech and don’t have a very good ability to judge our rate of consumption. The technology for gauging tanks levels is pretty weak too. So, Jae and I did a bunch of calculations and I concluded we probably did have enough fuel to get there if we had to motor the rest of the way, but not a high RPM’s. Hell, what is the fun of pushing the pedal to the metal and taking all the suspense out of it?
Fortunately, the wind returned, this time on the beam, Sirius’ best tack. The seas were still somewhat confused and so the boat motion did not improve too much when we started sailing. Our concerns about fuel supply disappeared as we turned off the motor and rocketed south through squalls and high seas.
At precisely 8 am on November 13, nine days after we left, we crossed the finish line in the BVI. We were all on deck and celebrated with cold beers. Only when we turned west to travel the last few miles down the Drake Channel to Nanny Cay, did we experience any downwind sailing, which was supposed to be major sailing experience of the whole damned trip!
At the marina, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. We were the fifth boat to arrive and ultimately won 2ndplace in the race. Half the rally did not arrive until many days later and some of the boats were pretty banged up. By comparison, we had done well. The boat that waited a day to leave, Serenity, arrived the day before us. This is because it is a very fast boat and because they steered a course directly for the BVI, rather that going east to look for wind, as we had done. As a result, they traveled about 120 fewer miles and had a much easier Stream crossing.
I was really pleased to be in the marina, tied to the dock, with no obligation to go anywhere. The tropical depression that we had raced to avoid did not materialize, but who could be upset about that? Jae and I had no idea what we were going to do upon arrival, but we quickly decided we did not want to go anywhere. We arranged to prolong our stay at the marina, with apologies to Steve that we did not want to cruise the islands during his remaining days. After enough rum punches and time at the beach bar, we began putting things back together, drying out the contents of wet lockers and undertaking some modest repairs, including sail repair. These chores all provided an excuse to stay put. While I am usually ready to travel after a day or two, I felt quite differently this time. I had no desire to go anywhere at all.
Several veterans of the rally said it takes a week to recover from the passage. I would certainly agree. Between the stresses of the departure weather and the forecast weather for our arrival, we needed some real down time.
I won’t catalogue the days in the marina except for two adventures. First, we understood from rally organizers that the BVI Customs & Immigration agreed that the rally boats could proceed directly to the Nanny Cay Marina where customs & immigration would meet them. Normally, the captain of the vessel must bring the boat directly to the port of entry and go ashore (alone) to clear in. Like the boats arriving before us, we did not do so, relying upon the instructions from the rally that we could go to the marina instead and take a taxi to the C&I office. Rally organizers also told us that we had 24 hours to do so.
When we arrived on Tuesday, I was ready to go immediately to clear in, but the rally personnel urged me to wait until the following morning when they would have the proper forms for me to complete in advance. This would still be within the 24 hour window. So, I deferred for a day and went the next day with a captain who had just arrived and one who arrived the day before as we had done.
The officials were quite unpleasant, particularly one whom I nicknamed Nurse Ratchit. She threatened me with a $10,000 fine for not having come the day before, though she admitted there was a 24-hour grace period. She acknowledged we had special dispensation to go directly to the marina, but said I should have come directly to clear in with her. There was just no pleasing her and my Washington lawyer skills just weren’t getting it done. At one point, I asked if I should pay for a cruising permit because I thought the rules were unclear. She told me no because we had a private vessel, not a charter vessel. The next day her office charged another captain in precisely the same circumstances $750.00 in cruising permit fees.
After I paid all the proper fees, supplied forms in triplicate, and received permission from Nurse Ratchit to leave, I went outside to wait for the other two captains and to gather some information at the tourist booth. A few minutes later, one of the captains came out and told me I needed to return immediately to pay another fee or I would be thrown in jail. Of course, I did so, but with a pretty sour taste in mouth. Back at the marina, I told the rally folks about our experience.
A couple of nights later, at our farewell party, one of the organizers introduced me to the BVI Minister of Tourism, Mark Vanterpool, one of 5 cabinet members for the BVI government. We had a really nice chat and I told him about our various experiences. At that time, I did not know about the $750.00 charge the captain of Moonshadow had to pay. Mark gave me his card and asked me to follow up with him. I agreed to do so, though I had no particular reason to push it further.
I sent him an email a couple of days later and he asked to meet the following Friday. I invited my friend Paul Geppart, the captain of Moonshadow to go as well. Jae went into town with us and did some shopping while we met with Mark.
I was somewhat excited – a formal meeting, something I knew how to do. Paul was very kind and told me he hoped I would take the lead that I was likely a better speaker (read: mouthpiece) and that he hoped I could get it worked out for him. I was happy to do that. After he had sweated and strained to replace the impeller in our boat’s engine; I owed this guy a lot in my view and doing a meeting was hardly much payback.
I prepared for the meeting, like I would have done for any client. I got my documents, my references and papers all organized, anticipating each point Mark might raise and had bookmarked pages with responses. I did not really expect that response from him, but I knew the best practice is to BE PREPARED! I showed Paul what I had done, in case he had any comments or might suggest something I had forgotten. I learned long ago, there can be no ego connected to doing a good job. Paul and Jae both thought I was well prepared.
So, off we went to the meeting, perhaps the first “formal meeting” I have ever attended in shorts, flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt. That is as dressed up as I can get, mon! And I broke the ice at the beginning by joking with Mark that I did not know how to dress for the meeting. He laughed and said it was casual Friday, but if we had met with the P.M. (prime minister), ties would have been necessary.
I do have a few ties and one suit on board. I meant to ditch the suit before now. I brought it aboard with the intention of cutting it up at the Portsmouth Rally Halloween party as a marker of my passage out of full-time, active law practice. But, Jae and I were so overwhelmed and tired that we did not go to that party, so it is still aboard, looking for a new opportunity to be desecrated. I never considered putting it on for the meeting with Minister Mark.
After 10 minutes of conversation during which I “set the table on rally issues”, including Paul’s circumstances, Mark ushered us out of his office and into his luxurious, brand new Range Rover and drove us to Customs, where we met the Commissioner of Customs, Wade Smith. Wade might be the tallest man I have ever met, but he is not the friendliest. I can handle those meetings too, but they are not nearly as easy. Fortunately, the tide turned very quickly when he asked to see Paul’s receipt. I think he was actually embarrassed at the charges Paul had paid.
Pretty soon afterwards, Paul was completing a refund request and my meeting skills were really no longer needed. Wade assured us that the boats still at sea would be allowed to proceed directly to the marina and would be well treated. I think that is exactly what happened, so it should all end well, if Paul gets his refund.
We left in good spirits, looking for the nearest rum punch. And, when all was done, I wrote Mark an email with a final report.
The second marina event worth reporting is that a couple of days after meeting Mark, I woke one morning with a very sore spot near the bottom of my right shin. I thought I had banged myself on some hard object on the boat – there are lots of those and I hit most of them. At my age, they all leave a really distinctive mark. Those who are around my age know exactly what I am saying here; the shower is kind of a scary place because it is there that you discover how bad you were to yourself that day.
I did not give it much further thought, but 3 days later, it took on a nastier appearance and we decided I needed a doctor. I saw Dr. Klas Buring, a Swedish doctor practicing in Road Town, who is an orthopedic surgeon (not exactly what I think I needed, but whatever). Dr. Buring was great. He studied the wound, gave me a shot of pain medication (no complaints about that!) and anti-inflammatory NSAID and asked me to return in 2 days. Two days later, he decided it was an insect bite, presumptively a brown recluse spider bite. He drew some pus out of it, prescribed antibiotics and asked me to return in two days. For that visit, he again poked me with a needle, probed it (with the f&*king needle) and asked me to return in two days when the lab results would be known. So again, I visited him, got another probing needle and this time he told me I had a staph infection, possibly from a spider bite. He switched the antibiotics based on the lab results. As I write this, I still have a pretty noticeable lump on my shin, but it feels much better and does not have any fluid, I don’t think.
Next blog: escape from the marina!