Life seems to always seems to be a series of ups and downs and for me these last few months could not have gone any better. It can be stressful to temporarily leave behind ones comfortable life of sailing solo around the world. Once I think I have things figured out I seem to add small hurdles like joining a boat going to Antarctica. I committed to Joining Barry Kennedy on Spailpin on his Dix 38 pilot house while in Sri Lanka. I was pretty sure I could find a safe spot for Tiama in South Africa in time, get my prosthetic sorted, get clothing suited for the trip, and get myself to Chile and back all without sacrificing the work and maintenance required to get Tiama back in shape after a long trip across the Indian ocean. I was unsure how all this would happen but it just did thanks to several incredible people, most of which I had not met before.
I’ll start with the leg which could be a long blog in itself but since most of my readers know little about prosthetics I will keep it short. My friend Adrian saw a picture I posted online with me taking a grinder/saw/screwdriver/dremmel/file and a lot of sweat/profanities towards two prosthetic sockets I was trying to turn into one that would work. He took it upon himself to reach out to a prosthetist he knew in South Africa. In his search he found out the one he knew fled the country avoiding fraud charges. When looking for this prosthetist he came in contact with Jeremy Kreik. Jeremy happens to be fellow sailor and agreed to see me. I was not sure what to expect but was hoping to get a new socket (the bit that fits on my residual limb) made. In the U.S.A. Medicare pays around 7,000 usd for this and I had about 500usd that I could budget. If it couldn’t be done for this amount I would go back to the Grinder/saw/dremmel/file/screwdriver/sweat/profanities and possibly add zip ties/duct tape for good measure. After a brief meeting Jeremy offered to not only make me one socket at his expence, but two so I could have a backup. I specifically wrote at his expense instead of free because I know how expensive the materials and components for these are. This man took two days of his time and spent his own money to help someone that he never knew existed just a few days earlier. He even called Jackie Church with Ossur South Africa to get a new liner covered at their expense which is a 600usd part. In just a few days these amazing people made me the best fitting and strongest prosthetic I have ever had and I went for my 1st run in over a year to test it out.
Getting to Punta Arenas and getting outfitted was another hurdle since it turns out plane tickets are expensive and my board shorts and slipper (jandel, flip flop, thong, or whatever you want to call it) just would not cut it in Antarctica. Barry and Wayne offered to cover my flight here when I was considering if I could afford to come. I want to make a special note about Wayne. We were supposed to crew together but when he found out he could not make it he still sent me the money to cover half of my ticket. Dave Gruss, Erik Dalton with Jagged Edge Mountain Gear, and Todd Rutledge with Mountain Trip International donated me a ton of really nice cold weather gear and Sara Achter cut off the left arms and sewed them for me. With the exception of Barry I have never met any of these people nor did they ask anything from me in return.
Now for keeping Tiama safe and getting repairs done. Zululand Yacht club sponsored my spot as long as I agreed to talk to the sailing kids about overcoming adversity(something I would have happily done without the free spot). Gerrit is looking after Tiama and organizing the repairs. Between crowd funding and my Chagos fleet family dropping some cash on me I didn’t have to pick and choose what gets fixed before crossing the Atlantic.
There is a large cost to what I am attempting to do and it is not just money. Nadene on Wakanui spent a lot of time on my crowd funding video. Veronica with Mana Media always keeps my website running and fellow yachties always lend a hand (never literally) fixing the boat when I let them. It turns out there are things I can’t or do or do not have time to do alone. Thankfully sailing the boat around the world is not one of those things.
I have jested at times about people leaving the rat race, working too much, not traveling enough or whatever. The truth is without Jeremy, Barry, Stash, Sara, Eric, Dave, Todd, Wayne, and a lot of crowd funding help from people “working too hard” I would not be here in Chile right now prepairing for Antarctica. Never could I have dreamed that so many people would take it upon themselves to make my dreams come true and there is no way I could ever repay everyone. I just hope I can be on the other side of this someday and spend my money and time to help someone else live out their dream. Until then I will just say thank you.
Aloha from Punta Arenas Chile