By Erik Dolson
“Not exactly romantic,” I said at Christmas when Irish tore open the botched wrapping on her last gift under the tree.
“It is, because it shows you were listening,” said Irish.
She’d become addicted to fishing after hooking salmon in Canada and Alaska last summer. I’d heard enthusiasm in her voice when she talked about fish finders with her friend and salesperson and fish guru in Victoria. So, I got her a fish finder. It broadcasts a Wifi signal to the note pad we’d won the Christmas before with the lights on our boat.
Calm down. There were other pretty things for Irish under the tree. But the fish finder wasn’t just proof I had been listening, it was also a way of saying we’d be fishing again in the future.
It had been a rough few months, wondering whether her body was going to reject her good eye. From September to Christmas, the news wasn’t good. Liquid spots of inflammation were not subsiding, which led to Irish taking oral steroids that tore up her esophagus and stomach, which led instead to an injection of steroid around the eye that didn’t work, which led to an injection into the eye. This was not something we anticipated with joy.
I held her hand during the procedure but couldn’t watch.
But at the end of December, her retinologist was nearly giddy with positive news.
“It’s stable,” he said, and pointed to places on the scan where fluid had been but was now gone. The ongoing inflammation had been brought to a halt, to be held at bey by a weekly injection of immuno suppressant that Irish gives herself, and two drops of prednisone into the eye each day. Could be much worse.
We received permission to travel to the boat in Victoria. Good thing, too, because Irish had decided we were going anyway.
It’s great to be back on the boat. I fixed the water speed indicator after learning it’s so out of date they don’t make replacement parts, and receiving suggestions I rip out the entire instrument system and install an upgrade to the tune of many thousands of dollars.
Turned out there was a spare speedo under the bunk. Irish found it on the inventory spreadsheet we created a year ago and I’d forgotten about.
It was a little scary pulling the indicator out of its hole in the bottom of the boat and having water pour in before I could slip the rebuilt unit back in place. I’ve heard newer ones have a valve of sorts that closes when the broken piece is removed. It’s good to know ours doesn’t have that feature. Takes some of the guesswork out of planning repairs.
It’s frustrating I can’t find anyone to draw up and/or build a pilot house, important up here in the Pacific Northwest if we want to use the cockpit. Every quality builder is busy until after the season or next August, which is the only month we’ll be able to sail uninterrupted this next summer.
I spent a couple of days designing and building a rig out of off-the-shelf stainless fittings to hold the fish finder when in use. I could call it an addition to the Christmas present, but that kind of tinkering is fun for me, and probably a form of therapy.
And last Sunday, with friends Ken and Joan Newman on board, we took the boat out of the harbor and went fishing in the Winter Trotac Fishing Derby. Actually, Irish fished, Ken and Joan piloted the boat, and I pretended to do something. The wind was cold but the sun was out and the day glorious, after a long stretch of rain. We could see the bottom of the strait quite well with the new fish finder, but unfortunately, didn’t see any fish.
That’s okay. We were on the water with friends and doing something we love, living and taking advantage of the words “it’s stable.”