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Boat Work is Dangerous, Go Cruising and Live Longer

Who said cruising was a dangerous
way of life?Braving the savage oceans
of the worldleft no scars on my body
but boat building – that’s another story.
That’s the truly dangerous part of
boating.I can prove it with scars,
missing digits and pieces of metal imbedded like shrapnel in my limbs.
These grim experiences happened in boat yards
and marinas -where the boats were
safely and firmly tucked into their berths or cradles on dry, unmoving land.

When Mike and I were refinishing Loreley
in a marina at Point Robert’s, Washington, he was busily drilling tiny holes in
magnificent strips of red cedar that were to clad the cabin interior.
The drill lay on a table for a moment, as I
dashed through the cabin.I tripped on
the cord, and drill hit me on the back of my heel and I fell, clutching my foot
and howling with pain.While I howled Mike
looked for the drill bit.Gone.
Vanished into thin air.
He was more mad than sympathetic, as he
could not finish his job.That night I
barely slept as my foot throbbed like an abscessed tooth.
Next day I could not put it on the ground
and had to be half carried to the car for another trip, this time to emergency
at the nearest hospital.Sure enough,
the surgeon showed us the x-ray plate of my foot.
There, deep in the heel bone was the drill bit!

"You’ve got to get it
out!" said Mike anxiously to the surgeon.

Confidently the surgeon assured Mike, "No, it will cause less
trouble if we just leave it there, rather than do bone surgery to remove
it."

"NO," said Mike,
"You MUST take it out."

"It will be fine, I promise
you" he assured Mike again, "There are many people in the world that
live with pieces of metal in their bodies."

"You don’t understand!"
Mike said loudly, "I NEED that drill bit!"

It’s still there – 20 years later.

Mike managed the ultimate injury in
a boat yard in California.He also
managed to make it an advantage to be temporarily crippled.

I was inside the hull, when he flew
off the scaffolding.I head a yell and
a thud.Sure enough, when I got onto
the deck, there he was lying on the ground next to the cradled Loreley.
People came running to stand helplessly and
stare.Then some one said, "Call
the ambulance!"With that Mike
shook himself and started yelling in the strongest language he could muster, to
inform them what he would do to them if they called an ambulance. His befuddled
brain had not taken into account that he was unlikely to inflict any harm on
the well-meaning friend if he could not even sit up – let alone stand.
The vision of our meager savings flying out the portholes into the coffers of
the Californian Hospital system was enough to rouse him.
A doctor in the boat-yard came over and
examined him.He could not move his
legs without considerable pain.He had
landed on one side, hipbone to the ground and I was certain that he had cracked
his pelvis.Finally convinced, he
allowed friends to move him onto our van for transportation to hospital.
He screamed as they lifted him.
My tears were not very useful but it was
about all I could think of to do, besides continuing the huge task of sanding
the 46ft hull – alone.

Hours later (and much poorer) he
returned.No broken bones but many
pulled muscles around the hip and groin area.
He could not climb up the ladder into Loreley, so he slept in the
van and had all meals brought to him.
He couldn’t walk at all and we had this expensive cradle, in an
expensive yard, expecting to be in and out in just a week.
We couldn’t put the sanded hull back into
the water at that stage and it looked as if our extended time in the yard would
break us financially by the time we were finished.
Our Californian friends rallied to help.
While Mike was carried around in an armchair
to direct operations, our friends sweated and slaved until Loreley was
sprayed, shiny and new and ready for launching.
The easiest haul-out Mike ever had!

Months in California, doing a lot
of boat work and I noticed my hands were going numb and I couldn’t use my
fingers properly.I could not turn a
page, I could not lift coins off a counter, I could not use the brakes on my
bike, I could not pick my nose etc.A
doctor confirmed I had carpal tunnel syndrome.
From all the boat work, the carpal nerves had been pinched off and I
needed surgery immediately or I would be left with crippled hands.

First one hand then the other – 6
weeks in plaster, just so I could continue to work on Loreley.
Mike thought it was cheap at the price.

Which just goes to prove – work is
dangerous.Work is no good for
you.Cruising is good.
So stop the work before it kills you
– and GO CRUISING!

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