Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Declaring an emergency

We are back in Chesapeake, Virginia, at a different free dock (map), adjacent to the Great Bridge Battlefield, on the other side of the canal and the bascule bridge from where we've spent the last few days.  We're stuck here until at least tomorrow, on account of a missing crewmember, and possibly longer.

We shoved off this morning in time to make the 9am opening of the Great Bridge Bridge.  As the lock itself was closed, we were the only boat waiting on the bridge; Concrete Idea had gone through on the 7am lift to fuel up at Atlantic Yacht Basin before resuming their own southbound trek.

Three statute miles south of Great Bridge is the Centerville Turnpike swing bridge, which opens on a half hour schedule.  That's a comfortable speed for us and we arrived at the bridge just in time for a 9:30 opening.  As we were approaching the bridge, just as I was about to hail them on the radio, a loud "thunk" alerted me to the fact that George had managed to push a chart book off the settee.  Cats knocking things over is a pretty routine occurrence around here, and I even cracked a joke about it.

When Louise looked over at her, though, she realized that George was having a seizure.  Her legs were stiff and claws latched in to the settee cushion, eyes rolled back, one side unresponsive.  We were in a narrow stretch, and I could not leave the helm.  It was all over in only a minute, but it gave us a good scare.  I had throttled back to idle, and after a quick discussion we decided to immediately divert to the closest vet.

A quick call to the Centerville Bridge tender confirmed what I already knew -- the closest veterinary care would be back here in Chesapeake.  Thankfully, we had not yet passed the bridge, so I did not need to request an emergency opening.  I moved up to a wider spot in the canal just before the bridge and turned the boat around, and we motored as fast as we dared directly back here.  Louise used the twenty minutes of transit time to call some vets and line up a taxi to take us from the landing to the closest one that could see her right away, at 10:30.

With today being a good weather window for the trip south, the four sailboats that were on this dock last night had all left just ahead of us this morning, and so we had no issues at all coming straight in and tying up alongside.  It is at times like these that we are thankful we trained extensively to dock the boat unassisted in all kinds of conditions; this dock was a piece of cake and we were tied up in a matter of just a couple of minutes.

Long time readers might remember that George has chronic kidney disease, and it turns out that seizures can be a symptom of a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream as a result of the reduced kidney function.  A blood count revealed that her BUN and creatinine levels have risen a good bit since her last bloodwork, although most of the other numbers looked pretty good and she is nowhere near being in crisis.  While we can give her subcutaneous fluids here on Vector to try to flush things out, we opted to have the vet do a course of IV fluids instead, for more immediate effect.

So George is at the vet for the rest of today, and we have an appointment with the taxi to take us back over there before they close at 5pm to pick her up.  This will give the vet the rest of the afternoon to observe her as well, to make sure there are no additional signs or symptoms.  He has also recommended we step up the administration of sub-cu fluids moving forward, as the disease is clearly progressing.

While we were waiting for our return taxi, a woman came in with a beautiful young American Eskimo dog, which brought back a flood of memories of Opal.  It has been a rough morning.  I am hoping that the fluids will perk George back up and we will have a better evening once she is home -- she was still pretty out of it when we left her at the vet.

Of course, this delay means we will miss our window for good weather on Pamlico Sound.  We'll be sitting down with the charts and the forecasts this afternoon to see if it still makes sense to shove off in the morning, perhaps getting an early start and running another twenty miles past Coinjock, or if we should stay put a while longer and wait for another three-day weather window.

Opal in 2005 at White Sands National Monument. We still miss our little globe trotter.


  1. So sorry to hear about George. Best wishes on a speedy recovery!

  2. Sorry to hear about the George - hope she gets better quickly.


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