Boat building and shoulder healing

IMG_20140323_140049As you might have noticed, things have been pretty quiet round here – mainly because Doug had surgery on his shoulder after injuring himself during the (so-horrible-we-try-not-to-talk-about-it) day-we-finally-gave-up-on-the-engine, back in August. Here’s a link if you don’t know what that’s referring to. I still feel sick every time I think about it – that and the moment I nearly killed him with an accidental gybe, but that’s another story…

Doug’s speedy jump down into the engine room resulted, we later discovered, in three torn rotator cuff muscles (two of them almost 100% ripped) and a 90% torn bicep. We should have guessed it was serious when his whole upper arm turned a particularly disgusting shade of purple. Looking back it is kind of unbelievable that he then continued the voyage from Raivavae up to Hawaii, including a 15 day solo sail, mostly without use of the autopilot, and two trips up the mast while alone on the boat. Anyway, in about November, realizing the pain wasn’t going away, he finally figured he should get it seen to by a doctor and within weeks he was having scans and appointments and surgery was booked for mid-February.

IMG_20140323_105553He hasn’t been able to do a whole lot since then, but having won places on a boat building course after attending this year’s Vancouver Boat Show, we decided it was time to test out his recovery. We decided too that, given that the only time I’ve ever made anything with tools was when I was about 13 in ‘Craft and technology’ at secondary school (a spatula and a wooden box, minus lid because that was too hard), this would be a good chance to start my efforts to get more practical and competent for when we’re next on Illusion. Back in August I mostly helped by IMG_20140322_121143handing Doug the tools he needed for various jobs and making tea. (I did a load of cleaning and cooking and organizing, too, but I wanted to be more hands on with the cool stuff.) So we spent two days in this little hut by False Creek, being taught by Brian Chandler (appropriate name, huh?) from Dreamcatcher Boats and had a load of fun. The first day it was freezing and rained the whole time, but the second, this was our view from the door:

IMG_20140323_105438There were nine of us, plus the leader, working on two skin-on-frame boats, and although we didn’t get them finished we had a good crack at it, and got to go out on the water for a paddle at the end of the course in a very similar boat to what we’d been making. The one we were working on was a one-person model so we decided it wasn’t quite right to have on Illusion, but we’re pretty tempted to try making a bigger one – they’re so light and easy to paddle around and they look lovely too.

IMG_20140323_105807-cropIMG_20140323_122505-cropThinking of Illusion, which we are pretty much constantly at the moment, we’re not sure if we’re going to be able to sail her back to Vancouver this summer. The six week post-surgery check-up, yesterday, showed that while healing was progressing well, the injury was much more serious than we’d realized (frayed muscles and all that), and the surgeon wasn’t too happy about Doug’s plan to head off soon to sail back here. She said things like ‘well, if you’re not actually doing any of the sailing work it might be ok.’ Hmm. It isn’t looking ideal. We’re going to wait a bit and see how he’s doing, but we’re starting to face facts and accept that maybe it would be better to wait for further recovery before setting off on a potentially tricky passage with just the two of us. Either way we’ll hopefully get some of the engine work done soon and it’ll give me extra time to practice my knots and get to grips with the contents of the toolbox before heading back onto the open ocean…

In the meantime, here are some photos of us at work. And also, thank you so much to all the fabulous friends who looked after Doug immediately after surgery (while I was over in England meeting my gorgeous new nephew) and since then – with company, food, car-rides, etc etc. We are so grateful 🙂

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