Labor Day weekend my wife and I went sailing. We had a great trip except on the day we headed home.

The first day we motored to Sucia Island and stayed the night. We arrived late and had dinner on the boat.

Early the next day we went to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. The harbor was crazy busy, We radioed in for a slip. The Harbormaster had to put us and several other boats on hold as he tried to find slips for all of us. He sounded like an airline traffic controller, bringing each of us in for a landing. About four boats, including ours, motored around in circles waiting our turn.

We stayed the whole day and overnight in Roach Harbor. Our boat looked tiny and old next to all the others. Most boats were in the $200,000 to $1,000.000 range. I felt like putting up a sign… “Yeah, but ours is paid for!”

There is a lot to see there. The harbor is very touristy but we had a good time. We visited the old Hotel de Haro where the manager allowed us to see the President’s Room – so called because President Teddy Roosevelt stayed there. There was also a large “John Wayne Tub” that John Wayne himself had installed because the others were too small for him.

One of the first things you notice when sailing into Roach Harbor is a little church on the hill. The Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel performs mass every Sunday and is often used for weddings.

After visiting the chapel Willie and I took a long walk and found the cabins built for kiln workers years ago. The cabins have a wonderful view looking west over the Sound and are now rentals for the tourists.

The next day we heading to Stuart Island. This is one of my favorite islands. We tied up at a free floating dock (not attached to the land) and met a friendly man named Warren, a loner who sails Puget Sound every Summer all through the entire season.

He suggested we go see the little red school house on the west side of Stuart so we rowed to shore and walked a trail that lead to the old school. It turns out the school is still operating. It had three graduates last year.

The current school building is newer, but the original building and the teacher’s house are still there. The tiny house where the teacher used to stay (only 12’ x 15’) is now a little museum and the old schoolhouse is a library.

Though there was no one around, both buildings were open. You could even check out library books on your own. The honor system is a way of life on the island.

Along the trail we found t-shirts hanging between two trees. They were for sale to raise money for the school. Again there was no one there selling them. You simply pick out your size from a box that looks like a large treasure chest, take the shirt home, and then mail an enclosed envelop with your payment to the school. Try selling shirts that way on the mainland; I love the island lifestyle.

The next day, on our sail back home, things turned for the worst. Most of the way home was relaxed and beautiful, but about four miles out of home port I knew something was wrong. What started as a small pain in my gut soon grew worse. I laid down on the bed in our cabin while my wife motored the rest of the way in. Four miles is a long way in a sailboat going only 5 knots on a 10hp motor.

The pain got to be too much so I told Willie not to panic as I radioed for help. “Pahn-pan, pahn-pan, pahn-pan, this is the Fargone. We have a medical emergency on board.”

Bent over in pain I talked to the Coast Guard and explained the situation. I requested that they contact the Blaine Harbormaster and arrange for a EMT team to meet us at the visitor dock; I didn’t want to make my wife land in our slip because she hadn’t had experience maneuvering into the tiny space.

Two boats who heard the call came along side. The one, a beautiful big sloop, lead us into the harbor and to the visitor dock. Despite my pain, I was able to land our boat.

A security officer and a policeman tied our boat to the dock and the EMT’s wheeled me up the ramp and into the ambulance.

It turns out I had a bowel obstruction and was in the hospital for two days. The doctors told me it probably happened because I had eaten raw broccoli and didn’t chew it properly. They recommended not eating broccoli or other raw vegetables. That’s fine with me… I hate broccoli.

I got home on Wednesday and planned a solo sail for the next weekend. This got me into a lot of trouble with my wife, but that’s for another blog.

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