Sunday, April 6, 2014

Game changer

I was hoping to keep to no longer than two weeks between posts while we remain here in Stuart, but I seem to have gone over by a bit. I've been somewhat out of commission for the past couple of days, and even today typing is an effort. That's because I had refractive surgery Friday. Yesterday I merrily tossed two pairs of glasses and three pairs of contact lenses in the trash, and for the first time in 45 years I can see the walls when I wake up. Well, sort of -- I am still having to wear clear plastic shields taped over my eyes while I sleep.

I promise to get to an update on Vector momentarily, but for the curious among my family and friends, I will first share a few more details. Those who have known me a long time know that I was extremely nearsighted -- worse than 20/400, which is the maximum on the chart -- and I also had astigmatism. More casual acquaintances might never have known this, because I have worn hard contact lenses for the past 40 years, which corrected my vision completely.

One consequence of being blind without glasses or contacts is that I have been denied the simple pleasure of swimming, diving, and other water sports without worry.  Wearing the glasses there was always a worry they would come off, even with a sports strap (and they did just that, once, in the wave pool at Disney's Blizzard Beach), and many water parks even make you take them off before boarding some of the rides.  With my contacts in, I could not open my eyes under water or when being splashed.  As much as I like the water, though, it's been a small enough percentage of my life that I was willing to put up with all this rather than take on the risks (and pain) of refractive surgery.

Now that I live on a boat, surrounded by water almost every minute, and we are on the cusp of entering waters where I will be tempted to jump in virtually every day, I decided to take the plunge, if you will excuse the pun.  After a great deal of research I chose LASIK, with a well-experienced surgical team here in Stuart.  We knew we'd be here for at least two months, and one of the requirements for surgery is to stop wearing hard contact lenses at least that far in advance.

All well and good, but between my New Jersey nose and my pronounced brow reminiscent of neanderthals, they had a very hard time "docking" the flap-creating laser to my eyes.  I ended up having the LASIK procedure on the left eye, where they were ultimately able to dock the laser, and the PRK procedure on my right one, where they could not.  The PRK procedure has fewer risks and often results in better vision, but there is more post-operative discomfort and vision is distorted for days to weeks afterwards.  The good news is that I already see perfectly, well enough even to drive, with my uncorrected left eye.  I have some more follow-up appointments this week, but I should be seeing nearly perfectly with the right one, too, in another couple of weeks.

In the meantime, work has proceeded apace here aboard Vector.  I've finally gotten the dinghy chocks properly secured to the deck, and Louise managed to sew the dinghy cover back together after its longitudinal seam ripped open in a windstorm.  I also removed, refurbished, and reinstalled the dinghy's battery disconnect switch, which was so badly corroded that the whole electrical system was intermittent.  While I was at it, I upgraded the navigation lights to LEDs.

The electronics at the helm are finally 100% complete, and ASUS turned my laptop repair around in record time so we even have the nav computer back where it belongs.  Unfortunately, the depth transducer seems to have given up the ghost, a fact I learned when I put the nav computer back for testing.  I've ordered a replacement transducer, but the boat will need to be hauled out to replace it, turning a $300 part into a $1,000 project.  That needs to get done before we leave -- we can hardly navigate out of Stuart without it.

Also since last I posted here, we attended the Palm Beach boat show with Martin and Steph, where we ended up ordering our offshore medical kit (minus the AED, which we already have). That's mostly on board now, except we are still waiting on a pair of oxygen cylinders, which come via a different shipper.  Once we get our life raft back, scheduled for Tuesday, we will finally be fully equipped for an offshore passage.

A contractor here at the yard has been busy touching up all our rust spots, and we even sprang for a professional wash job.  I finally installed the test port for the watermaker, for when we get back out into open water, and I reconnected the aft deck shower and the watermaker flush port with some new PEX and fittings, tossing another three dozen feet of nasty-looking vinyl hose off the boat.

I made up a portable sediment filter for the fresh water fill hose, to keep gunk from getting in the tank in the first place, and I replaced the backlights on the rudder angle indicators with LED items, as the one on the flybridge had burned out recently.  I also removed one of the fixed shelves in the large locker in the master head, so Louise could reorganize in there with a nicer multi-drawer organizer.  Louise, meanwhile, also got the taxes done and off to the CPA.

So the boat has come along nicely, and once the depth sounder is replaced, we will be ready to cruise.  We've been enjoying the great weather and the company of friends here in Stuart.  We'd be happy as clams, but our happiness is tempered by the fact that our most loving cat, George, is deteriorating rapidly.  She slowed down so much, and started eating so little, that we brought her to the vet early last week, despite having her on subcutaneous fluids twice a week.  Her BUN and creatinine had skyrocketed since her episode in November, and even her phosphorous was elevated.  The vet kept her for two whole days to flush her out with IV fluids.

While the kidney values are much improved (at the expense of increased anemia), she is still moving very slowly and not eating much.  We honestly do not know how much longer she has left.  We are increasing her sub-cu to every other day, and trying to tempt her with whatever food she will eat, as the kidney diet is no longer appealing to her.  She does not seem uncomfortable, but it is very hard to watch the decline, and we are very sad.

At this writing, we are still on track for shoving off here mid-month.  By then my eyes should be nearly fully recovered and we should have been hauled out for the depth transducer, either here at Apex, or at nearby Hinckley if the Apex lift can't fit us.  Our first stop on the way south will be Palm Beach, and we'll take the outside route, weather permitting.  Steph might join us just for the ride, with Martin meeting us down there in the car, depending on where they are in their commissioning process.


  1. Great to "see" all is well with both the boat and you folks. Sorry to hear about George, the downside to owning pets is for the most part we outlive them. But what an interesting life you have given her.

  2. You are by far the best blog on my reading list, no doubt due in part to your ambition, skills, and good writing. Sorry to hear about George... we recently lost our dog and it's hard to deal with. As much as I love to hear about the projects I hope you guys have some fun too :) Must be amazing to have your eyes fixed after so many years of needing correction.

  3. I know from personal experience how exciting it is to have refractive surgery. Wished I had done it sooner!
    So sorry about George. Been there too many times.

  4. Congrats on your eyes. My wife had hers done(prk) . I have had the retinas detach both eyes. When I mentioned to the doc
    That lyn had laser. He said this is 10 times more powerful
    And will hurt 10 times more. My reply ok just lie to me from here on in.. Cheers rob - Vernon BC


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