|Clarice's parents: Salome and Kelly Chambers|
About 2 months ago Salome had some blood tests run which ended up leading to a diagnosis that kept her in the hospital more than she was home. Last Saturday Clarice called her mother and picked up that her speech was slurred so she drove out to their rural home. When she arrived her mother had all of the classic facial characteristics of a stroke. Tests just indicated that she was terribly ill and the underlying cause was not clear. She was sick enough that she was sent to intensive care. On Monday (her 63rd wedding anniversary) a specialist was brought in who made a presumptive diagnosis of a fungal infection which generally is rapidly fatal.
Salome was offered the opportunity to be sent to Seattle to a University of Washington associated medical center but declined instead choosing to go home. We were able to get her on Hospice very quickly and she spent her final four days surrounded by family and friends while Clarice and I put our Hospice Nurse experience to good use.
At this point we feel "all cried out" but I'm sure that the tears will flow again at the funeral two days hence. My Mother-In-Law could be a challenging woman as she was as strong willed as her daughter but she loved her children and their families with all her heart and we love her with ours.
For all practical purposes Clarice has begun her retirement as she was granted an FMLA leave to help care for her father which extends to her planned retirement date in July. My manager has been very supportive recognizing that to work as an acute care Hospice nurse one needs to have their own grief under control.
Despite the family crisis we continue to prepare Salish Aire and ourselves for our grand adventure (if nothing else it provides a mind break from the grief). We've begun final testing of systems including the watermaker (which blew the top off a pre-filter under our bed (the good news was it was fresh water and everything under the bed is wrapped to prevent moisture damage) and the bilge pump system which failed to alarm for high water and wouldn't self prime.
The watermaker parts are expected to arrive tomorrow and hopefully the installation will go smoothly (which would be a first!). What happened was that we have a practice of flushing the system with fresh water every two weeks to keep the reverse osmosis membranes moist. We had turned the boat around in her slip so we could do so cleaning work on the side that is usually away from the dock. Since we use shore water while we are tied up to pressurize our drinking water system and since our normal hose dedicated for this use wouldn't reach with the boat turned around, Clarice hooked up our longer hose instead. She forgot that the longer hose didn't have a pressure reducer at the dock faucet and so the boat water system was at about 60 psi rather than 40 - 50 psi and the fairly old pre-filter housing couldn't take the extra load. All we can say is that we are glad it happened before we left rather than underway where we wouldn't have access to new parts.
The bilge pump system issues came to light during a roughly semi-annual wet test where we fill the bilge on purpose to make sure everything is working. The sequence should be 1) primary bilge pump activates with about 1 inch of water; 2) high water alarm in the pilot house squeals with about 2 inches of water; 3) a very high volume pump activates at about 9 inches of water (the deep part the of bilge is about 20 inches deep so there is still a lot of room before the engine room starts to flood). The test started well with the primary pump activating and pumping water but there was no alarm. To make a long story short the very nice pump / alarm switch that was installed in 2002 had specific instructions about sealing the wires which weren't followed and moisture gradually backed down the inside of the wires and damage the circuit board. I spoke to the designer of the switch who told me exactly what to look for and what the problem was. I installed a new switch and made a mental note that this was one more system that I should consider swapping out the hoses for new ones. To confirm that the system was now working as designed I did another wet test. The switch worked great but the primary pump would not self prime so it was back to the drawing board. Yesterday I replaced the original soft rubber hose with wire would stiff rubber hose and everything worked perfectly with the final test. (My best guess is that a section of the original hose that runs under the floor and over the fuel tank is either partially kinked or has softened with age and would collapse when the pump pulled a vacuum - since I couldn't pull it out to look at it, I couldn't make a visual confirmation of the hypothesis).
Next on my list is changing the oil in all engines and transmissions. Next on Clarice's list is a finishing waxing the boat. On both our lists is looking at the zincs on the bottom of the boat and replacing any that are too far gone. Clarice is starting final food provisioning and I am nearing the end of spare parts and fluids provisioning. Jarvis has confirmed that a 50# bag of dog food came aboard and plenty of dog treats.
Our daughter did come out for her grandmothers final days and returned home to Ontario Canada on Monday. She and her kids will be out for their planned summer visit the final three weeks of July and then we plan to be on our way.
We do have to say that we are really feeling the upcoming change to our lives. Friends have left for their summer Inside Passage trip and unless we can rendezvous with them we may never catch up with them again. We have already made arrangements to sell our final car to our son after 45 years of continuous car ownership. Planning for our bon voyage open boat party has begun. Clarice has passed on her duties at our yacht club and our church is aware we will no longer attend after the end of July. On the other hand I purchased the latest edition of the Waggoner Cruising Guide to the Inside Passage and am absorbing little travel planning details.
The Grand Adventure is getting very very close!