Snakes & Ladders

21st January

6th December ‘Talisker 1’ (centre picture) in the West Harbour at Suffolk Yacht Harbour

I feel I’ve been in a nasty game of snakes and ladders.  I’m writing about my exceedingly tedious health problems.

We are told the NHS is in crisis.  As a heart patient I have been seen and treated immediately by a terrific team both at Ipswich and Papworth Hospitals.

I slid down a particularly long snake and ended up having my pace maker removed, due to infection, at the immaculate Papworth Hospital in November.

“You could be in for up to six weeks” was a false alarm.  I am fortunate that the pace maker wires had not had time to become deeply imbedded.  Consultant Cardiologist Patrick Heck extracted the pace maker, wires n all, in a fairly lengthy procedure under general anaesthetic.  I’m led to understand that it is a procedure that can go wrong and an open heart surgery team are on stand by … just in case!

I was then monitored for several days, bloods were taken and confirmed the infection had cleared.  The Cardiologists Paul Venables, Patrick Heck and Greg Mellor felt my heart was working well.  They were uncertain if I needed another pace maker but in the end took the decision that I should have one as a precaution.

I was discharged on the 16th November with a chest that looked and felt like a patchwork quilt.  The new, more simple pace maker, was implanted on the right hand side of my chest.  I was taken off the beta blockers and blood pressure medication.  A big relief.

For six weeks I did not lift my arms above shoulder height, or lift anything heavy, after the new pace maker implantation and I was given the go ahead to slowly get back to normal after Christmas.

I started to slowly climb, what I thought was going to be, a pretty tall ladder when I started gently using our cross trainer for a few minutes every day.  I promptly slid back down a hideous snake on Wednesday when I had chest pains an hour after exercise.  Sally took me straight to A&E at Ipswich Hospital.

We passed striking Nurses at the entrance to Ipswich Hospital (they have been treated very very badly for far too long), which did not bode well for being seen quickly, but again, heads up to the NHS at Ipswich Hospital, … I was seen immediately.  ECGs, blood tests and a thorough exam from the duty medical officer showed nothing untoward.  And nurses were on duty together with a final year medical student from Cambridge!

Unprompted, my GP telephoned the following day and asked to see me the same day.  The physiologists at Ipswich Hospital have downloaded the last weeks activity from my pace maker.  I’m pretty sure I will have an appointment at Ipswich Hospital pretty soon.  The GP practice said carry on exercising and the Physiologist said wait until the Consultant has been updated with all the results.  I’ve gone with the Physiologist!  I am being very well looked after by the NHS.

Apart from Wednesday morning I’ve been feeling, touch wood, pretty good!

On a more positive note my chum Dave Buchan is recovering very well from a stroke.

I told you health is a boring subject!

22nd November and James R & Doc help me check out ‘Talisker 1’ after my discharge from Papworth.

My plans to sail towards Faroe and hopefully Iceland, this year, are temporarily on hold and I sadly did not sail in November and December.

I am still, however, hopeful of sailing to high latitudes this year.

Doc and James R helped me take my sails off the boat.  The sails were packed up and sent to Kemp in Wareham, Dorset.

12th December Packing up my sails to send to Kemp with the help of James R after James and Doc had taken them off ‘Talisker 1’ a few days earlier.

Peter Buchan helped me with an oil and filter change and we discovered a small leak on the primary fuel filter.  I was pleased not to be guilty of doing the last fuel filter change.  Peter has plans for a simpler replacement.

Jonny from Evolution Rigging, who are under the banner of OneSails East at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, carried out a thorough mast up rig check.  I have not felt like going up the mast of late, but there is always an awful lot to check at deck level too.  And on’t forget your guard wires and stanchions too!  I’m replacing webbing jack stays and a small amount of running rigging.  Jonny and Sam, Evolution Rigging, played a big part with the new rig in 2015.

9th January Evolution Rigging are part of OneSails East at Suffolk Yacht Harbour

9th January Jonny from Evolution Rigging

9th January Jonny and Sam, Evolution Rigging, played a big part with the new rig in 2015.

9th January There is an awful lot to check on a regular basis at deck level too.

9th January All in good order.

Peter will help me winterise the engine next week.

‘Talisker 1’ was immaculately hauled out of the water at Suffolk Yacht Harbour.

16th January Ready to be hauled out …

16th January A scrub

16th January ‘Talisker 1’ framed in Jenny’s cafe window as I warm up from the cold.  The cafe is top drawer!

16th January See Jay immaculately supervising the haul out with the Suffolk Yacht Harbour team.

16th January

16th January

On Thursday I saw my Liferaft inflated for its service at Suffolk Marine Safety.  I feel it is very important to know ones Liferaft and Marc gave me a masterclass.  It is not the first time I’ve seen my Liferaft serviced.

19th January Marc shows me the firing mechanism for the gas cylinder which will be fully serviced.

19th January A masterclass from Marc at Suffolk Marine Safety.

19th January Splash protection.  Keeping the weather out!  Having attended a Sea Survival Course in nice conditions it would be unimaginable to have to take to the raft for real.  But knowing your raft could save ones life …

19th January Water ballast pockets

19th January What’s in the raft?  My grab bag is also very carefully prepared and I carry a sea survival suit.

I’m in touch with marvellous Marlene Cleyndert at PredictWind.  I’m hoping my Iridium Go will be up and running from mid April.

In the mean time … winter maintenance will continue at a leisurely pace … shortly.  But not in this current cold snap!!


  • Stephen weldon says:

    Hi, I am a keen winter watcher of your YouTube channel and have seen your boat at Levington a number of times but have as yet to see you on it so I can get the autograph!!! Although I think its a selfie these days!!!

    Can I ask what your plans are this year and if you feel as though your health problems will stop you from big adventures and indeed solo sailing. Keep on with the videos, I really enjoy watching them and very much hope my retirement in 25 years! means I can be as ambitious as you.

    • That is very kind Stephen. You greatly over exaggerate my abilities. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the time to have sailed the distances I have, and I have mentors who are the ones who are as good as you get. Not me. I’m an ordinary sailor who tries to avoid adventurous cruises. An adventure is when mistakes have been made. An unremarkable cruise is how I like them. It means the cruise has been safe. If you wish to sail lots in the future put in the hard yards. The most difficult thing for any sailor is being close to land and traffic and all the other building sites off our shores. I was lucky to do loads of take offs and landings. Short passages from A to B and learning to judge weather, tides, river bars and swatchways. We are blessed in these waters with unique and difficult challenges and they are a true training ground to sail further.
      I have plans to sail north again this year, weather dependant. Perhaps towards Faroe and possibly Iceland.
      Best wishes

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