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Monday, January 28, 2013

January 27, 2013-Back Pain in English Harbor

wingssail images-judy jensen
English Harbor, Antigua.

After Fort De France we sailed up the coast of Martinique to St. Pierre, a delightful village but located in the risky position of being at the base of the Mt. Pele volcano. (Mt Pele has already destroyed St Pierre once, in 1902, with the loss of the lives of 30,000 inhabitants, but Mt Pele is quiet now.) It is a scenic setting and we enjoyed the town but my back had been bothering me; I wanted to go somewhere that I could rest up for a few days. We needed a bullet proof anchorage and St. Pierre was an open roadstead. The next morning we weighed and headed north. We sailed all day past Dominica and Guadeloupe and pushed through to Antigua and 24 hours later were anchored snuggly in English Harbor, long a goal of mine to visit, but not without some difficulty. Sailing with a bad back isn’t fun and I am sure I made it worse.

We went to the doctor and got some meds and settled down in English Harbor to rest up. Then I was careless handling some heavy lines and the back injury got worse, much worse. Operating a sailboat is tough on the body. Handling dock lines isn’t any better. As a consequence I was flat on my back with excruciating leg and hip pain for five days. This is undoubtedly a pinched nerve in my spine, probably from some sort of lumbar disk problem but it is hard to assess without diagnostics like MRI’s and the such, which we have not had done. You wouldn’t believe how many painkillers I was taking.

But there was a big race going on here, the Antigua Super Yacht Challenge. The smallest boats are over 100 feet and the really big ones, well, they are huge. For two days of this three day event I was in my bunk when they went out racing literally unable to move and I felt like I was missing out on something spectacular. But by the end of day two of the racing, my fifth day flat on my back, I started to feel a little better. I got up and moved around. It didn’t hurt, much. I made a call and got invited to sail on one of the boats as a photographer for day three. Now if my back would hold out…

Judy says I was stupid for even considering it and for sure she was right but I went for a short walk around the harbor looking at all the boats. It was a test and I passed; my back could hold up for a 30 minute walk.

So, on Sunday, I showed up at the yacht Marmara for the docking out at 10:00 with a bag of camera gear and a pocket full of oxycodone. Could I make it hoping around the decks of a super yacht for three hours with a marginal back?

I did, the sailing was great, and I got a lot of good shots. Hang on for a few days and I’ll have the photos posted.

My Back? Well, you know, the next day we made a trip to the supermarket and that was harder.

Click here For more images from St Pierre and Antigua.

Sorry! No photos of the patient.

Hang loose for a few days and we'll post photos of the Antigua super Yacht Challenge

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Antigua

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