'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

Of Storm and Pirate


So far, you have heard a lot about where we are and how we got here from the voice of Keith. So, let me introduce myself. I’m the other captain of s/v Sionna, Nicki. Keith is so good at this blogging thing that I have happily let him write. But he is taking a bit of a break. Here’s why:  

No, he hasn’t decided to become a pirate. But the pirate patch from the gift shop was an easy way to both hold the real patch in place and look a little suave doing it.  Splits, the flamingo, makes a good enough parrot, don’t you think?

When we last posted, we’d played tug of war with a steal I-beam on our anchor, and won. From there we crossed the mouth of the Delaware Bay and spent several days in Lewes, DE visiting family. Many thanks to Bob and Nancy Dunbar for showing us around town, showing us their original-owner, fully-restored better-than-new 1968 Pontiac GTO, The Judge, and for being our own personal Postmaster for a bit. 

After waiting… and waiting for a weather window to go up the Delaware and through the C&D canal, we saw a window that would allow us to go around the outside of Delaware instead. One night in Ocean City and an overnight passage around to Norfolk was the plan. On arrival in Ocean City, behind Assateague Island, as we were easing out the anchor chain, we were welcomed by 9 wild ponies racing up the beach, and moments later, a spectacular rainbow. But our weather window closed as we arrived in Ocean City and we ended up waiting out winds as high as 40 mph, a total of 4 nights. 

On our last full day there, Keith noticed that the floaters in his right eye, which most people have a few of, had begun multiplying. By the time we left for the overnight passage, he had a blind spot. Motor sailing at night is done, ahh, well, in the dark. Without daylight, he wasn’t aware of the blind spot. However, by the time we anchored in Willoughby Bay, just outside Norfolk. He’d lost about 80% of his vision in that eye. He needed medical attention immediately.

But Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane was due to arrive here in 3 days time. We had to work fast to find a safe place to go to ride it out. …or we could focus on saving Keith’s eyesight.

Google showed me “opthomologists near me”, including Wagner Macula & Retina Center. So at 10 am Wednesday morning, we were with Dr Kapil Kapoor, not just an ophthalmologist, but one who is getting national recognition as a specialist in vitreoretinal surgery…. like fixing detached retinas! He scheduled emergency surgery for the same evening. After giving Keith his own personal green laser light show (yes, it was more complicated than just that, but there is a serious ick factor when needles and eyeballs are in the same sentence), we were sent home with a wad of gauze under an ugly perforated metal eyepatch taped over Keith’s right eye and the doctors initials in ink above his eyebrow.

Storm slowed down, turned a little away, and finally was downgraded to Cat 1. It came through here last night as what we’d describe as very gusty and very wet. Had it been worse, we’d still have made the right decision. Keith will be back with you soon. I’m taking good care of him. But for now, we will be hanging out in Hampton, VA for a bit. 

 Hey look, the sun is shining on us again!

Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, and rehabilitating an old house. we’re headed back on the boat, bringing Sionna back home to northern waters. Follow our blog here!

20 thoughts on “Of Storm and Pirate

  1. Glad you landed where you were when Keith’s eye acted up! Sounds like you couldn’t have found a better surgeon! Rest up!


  2. Nicki, it’s nice to hear from you.

    We spent about 3 weeks in Hampton, VA. Are you on the city docks? We stayed there for about 3 weeks while waiting for a window to get south of Cape Hatteras. During the time there we rode out a nor’easter and local flooding from it and Hurricane Joaquin. We were tied to the fixed wood dock by the office and the water was 3′ over the dock. Such fond memories 🙂

    Good luck on your continued journey south. We hope Keith makes a full recovery.

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are on the city dock, actually one of the concrete floating docks. We were rather sheltered from the north east winds by the parking garage behind us. Not what you’d call a hurricane hole, but it was good enough for what Mother Nature delivered to us. Thanks for the well wishes.


  3. Hey, you two, I’m liking the chance to hear the tale of this journey in Nicki’s voice (although the reason isn’t so great). As long as you’re there, you should look up Bob Zentz and Jeanne MacDougall, who are not only wonderful musicians but really swell people. Send me an e-mail if you need their contact info. Meanwhile, we’re glad you found a terrific surgeon AND a safe harbor. George & Kathy


  4. Well at least you weren’t in the out islands when this happened. Glad your on the mend.

    As you know I am in Fernandina. I have been in Vermont for a month and left our boat on a city mooring. Unfortunately I did not get off the mooring before the hurricane hit and she was driven ashore with a number of other boats. I am on my way now to deal with it. Tow boat said she is to far ashore for him to move. So we’ll see when I get there.


  5. Thanks, Nicki! Much love!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So glad Keith was able to get high quality medical care right away and the surgery went well. Two storms at once – but you got through them both. And the wild pony shot is amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Grateful that you were able to keep out if that storm!!! Sending healing thoughts to Keith. Love to you both, Kat

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Nicki – it’s great to see you posting on the blog 🙂 I saw the FB posts on what happened to him in the midst of hurricane prep etc. but things were too crazy to really dig in and find out what was going on. I’m glad Keith is on the mend. So glad Matthew diminished in strength by the time he got to you.


  9. Keith: If you can’t write like a pirate, at least you can still talk like one – Argh! Do it often; Nicki will LOVE it, trust me!

    Nicki: sorry.

    Healing, happy thoughts to you both from me and Anne…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Detached retina. Vitrectomy. Been there. Done that. No fun – not only the surgery, but also the week of going around with the head facing down. Glad to hear you found a good eye doctor! Best of luck with the recovery from all of us here on Dodge’s Mountain

    Liked by 1 person

    • And our best to you and yours! Looks like we’ll be here in Hampton for a bit, but since the ICW south isn’t really usable yet anyway, we’re making the best of it! Eye is coming, but slowly…


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