September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye


September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation


September 01, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing


August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez


August 01, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind


July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap


July 01, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec


June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico


June 01, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua


May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising


May 01, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica


April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There


April 01, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama


March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money


March 01, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal


February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal


February 01, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific


January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week


January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef


December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2


December 01, 2011
AWAY to the ANDAMANs


November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise


November 01, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question


October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers


October 03, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World


September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come


September 01, 2011
Sailing for Humanity


August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work


August 01, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish


July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books


July 01, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas


June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala


June 01, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise


May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now


May 01, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala


April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas


April 01, 2011
At Last in the San Blas


March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon


March 01, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!


February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2


February 01, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1


January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude


December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane


December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba


December 01, 2010
Stuck in Curacao


November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing


November 01, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks


October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe


October 04, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal


September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing


September 01, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea


August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao


August 01, 2010
Bonaire Diving


July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire


July 01, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles


June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent


June 01, 2010
Right Place, Right Time


May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle


May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines


April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon


April 01, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II


March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1


March 01, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing


February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations


February 01, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands


January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa


January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............


December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing


December 01, 2009
Moving On To Morocco


November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med


November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone


October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol


October 01, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise


September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles


September 01, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well


August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca


August 01, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca


July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast


July 01, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia


June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa


June 01, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails


May 15, 2009
Into Africa


May 01, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia


April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy


April 01, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles


March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling


March 01, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports


February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta


February 01, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2


January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1


January 02, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time


December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear


December 01, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend


November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise


November 01, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz


October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman


October 01, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins


September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta


September 01, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story


August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times


August 01, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians


July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca


July 01, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe


June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece


June 01, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey


May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey


April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living


April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip


April 01, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget


March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi


March 01, 2008
Home Sweet Home


February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising


February 01, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World


January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free


January 01, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni


January 01, 2008
About Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Voyage Itinerary


August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work

Out of the blue I am handicapped. I had an accident, in a boatyard, while waxing and polishing the hull. I’m ashamed to admit it but I fell off a 50 gallon drum, crashing heavily onto the ground, onto my left shoulder. Whoa......... the pain!!

 
I’m sitting here typing with one right-handed finger as my left arm is in a sling. My left shoulder and armpit are a puffy, grotesque artistic swirl of black, blue and yellow. Watching it blossom into all those colors is fascinating. The humerus, the bone between the elbow and the shoulder, is fractured. They tell me it’s a ‘nuisance fracture’ but it seems like more than that to me right now. I can’t work. Almost every job around the boat requires two good, working arms. It’s strange to feel so useless.

I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been using that wobbly drum. I’ve worked in countless boatyards over the years without a single mishap. I’m so mad at myself. How could you be so stupid Liz? How could you not have been more careful? I say to myself over and over. But the damage is done.

Tom had a bad accident about 10 years ago in Australia while riding a bicycle. He crashed onto his shoulder too, separating his A-C joint. He was also in a sling and out of commission for about six weeks, the same length of time they say it will be before I can start actually using my arm again. I guess when you consider the number of years Tom and I have been cruising and the number of sea miles we have under our keel, two accidents in all those years isn’t earth shattering. We know land based people who have had way more accidents in as many years. The fact that neither accident occurred on the boat while in the water says something too.

Oh sure, we’ve had lots of minor accidents while on the boat, like the time, when we used to do winter sailing in Canada. I went to cast off the bow line and step onto the boat, in January, the coldest month of the year. My foot never made it to the deck. Instead, all of me, in full foul weather regalia, tumbled into the icy cold waters of Vancouver harbour. Miraculously, I made it back onto the boat by climbing the bobstay in nanoseconds, so quickly, I hardly even got wet and was not injured at all. Later, in warm weather, bikini clad, I tried to replicate that amazing show of athletic prowess. Impossible!

 

 

Or the time I sprained my ankle in Indonesia. We weren’t actually on the boat, but nearby, walking a trail on Komodo Island, hoping to come across one of the famous komodo dragons we’d heard so much about. Just a short distance into the trail, no more than half a mile, I lost my footing on a silly little rock and fell to the ground. My ankle swelled to the size of an orange and that was the end of my komodo dragon watching days as I was laid up for several days. Luckily, Tom got to see lots.

Not being able to work makes me think about work. The work we do on the boat. The jobs that are a part of our daily lives. People are very interested in hearing about on board division of labour- who does what, where, when, how often? So I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little about it.

First though, I have another confession to make. When we left Vancouver to go cruising full time, I secretly made a promise to myself. I wanted everything to be 50-50. I wanted to share and be able to do all on board jobs. Ours would be an ‘equal opportunity’ boat. Just as in the workplace that I had come from. I was a product of the ‘women’s liberation’ era, of equal pay for work of equal value. I would learn to do every single thing on the boat that Tom could do.


Now, more than 25 years later, is that the case? Did I keep my promise to myself? Do I change the oil, fix the water pump, tighten the fan belt, repair the head, adjust the steering cables, replace the impellor and regulator, check the engine and transmission oil, change filters, fix the autopilot, adjust the anchor windlass or the tension of the roller furler etc. etc. etc? No, no, no and no again. I am sorry but I have to admit that I do not do these things. Tom is our ‘Mr. Fix-it’ and I am our ‘Susie Home Maker’. We have ‘blue jobs’ and ‘pink jobs’. I never thought I’d say such a thing, but here it is in black and white.


Okay, it is a bit of an exaggeration. There is plenty of job crossover. I do help with almost all of those jobs when necessary. I’m the gopher when Tom’s in the thick of things, buried in the bowels of the engine room. I’m his ‘right hand man’ with anything and everything that comes up including tightening, loosening, holding, lifting, steadying, balancing, screwing, drilling, grinding, clean up, you name it. I’m his sounding board during trouble shooting sessions.


Come to think of it, it’s a remarkable thing that Tom and I are still afloat, that we haven’t actually experienced a major disaster, when you consider our backgrounds. Tom barely made it through 9th grade ‘shop’ class, and later, majored in economics of all things. I wasn’t allowed to take shop or auto mechanics, as girls took ‘girlie’ things like secretarial science and Latin. I took Latin for five years, studied the humanities.  A lot of good that did me sailing around the world!


One time while in Hawaii we met some cruising buddies we hadn’t seen in several years, friends we’d known very well as we’d lived side by side for a couple of years while working and living on our respective boats in the fishing village of Meinohama, Japan. The guy of the couple, noticing me fiddling ineptly with something or other, commented pointedly, and rather unkindly I thought, “still as un-technical as ever I see”. His remark pierced me. I was an experienced, long term cruiser after all; I was confident and competent. But, as hurt as I may have felt, he had hit the nail on the head. His matter-of-fact statement made me face up to something.


I’m not mechanically inclined. I’m an artsy fartsy type, always have been, always will be. Sometimes I complain to Tom ‘I’m not qualified to re-align the engine’ or ‘how can you possibly expect me to help tighten the keel bolts. It’s impossible.’ Or ‘don’t do it yourself! We should definitely get a professional to overhaul that sick outboard.’ The fact of the matter is, Tom’s not qualified either. He, however, takes the bull by the horns and somehow conquers it. Always has, always will. It’s an awesome thing to observe. It amazes me time and again. He also spurs me on to do things I never thought I could do.


We need to have the galley and main cabin furniture re-upholstered, Tom. It’s really looking worn and tattered.
Yeah, right. You could do it with your sewing machine. Just pick out some nice fabric and go for it.
Are you crazy? I could never do that!


Well, that was what seems like aeons ago. It was just one of many things I took him up on, and sure enough it is now ‘in my portfolio: upholsterer.’


The fact of the matter is that there are multitudes of jobs to be done on a boat and multitudes of ways they can be accomplished and divvied up, depending on the talents, interests and expertise of the people doing them. It’s marvellous to see all the different ways cruising couples manage business on board. I’ve come to realize that It doesn’t matter who does what; what matters is that the job gets done, that the parties involved work it out together and are in agreement about who does what.

The upside of my situation, that is, not being able to work because of an injured arm, is that I have the time to do things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. I am in this spectacular corner of the world again, Killarney Ontario Canada, our place of summer employment, and I can go for long walks, observe nature, fully enjoy the splendid scenery.
I can take a close look at the flora and fauna, pause and contemplate, look closer and longer, marvel at the details, take photographs, bird watch, sketch, paint.

The arm will heal in time and I’ll be hard at it again, but in the meantime I’ve decided to take full advantage of this little block of free time. I’ve learned my lesson though. Next time we are on the hard, I will not be so nonchalant. Boatyards can be dangerous places. Accidents can and do happen. I will be more careful.