In 1960, Nobel prize-winning author John Steinbeck took a
road trip with his poodle, Charley. Steinbeck later published
an insightful and entertaining travel log of their adventure
titled "Travels with Charley." Like Steinbeck, we're
sailors and dog lovers, and we also traveled with our own
special Charley. Our self-proclaimed "vicarious crew
member" was Charley Fladger, a young man in his 80s with
an irrepressible zest for life and adventure.
Prior to going cruising, Nick and I joined the San Antonio
Sail and Power Squadron and participated in their boater education
courses and social events. We first met Charley--an ex-fighter
pilot, retired podiatrist, and widower-- when he hosted a
squadron party at his home. A short, bald fellow with a mischievous
twinkle in his eye, Charley retold tales of his many adventures
around the globe. On his wall was a framed map of the world
dotted with red push pins marking all the places where he'd
been scuba diving. We fell in love with Charley immediately.
After we went cruising, Charley, who was editor of the squadron
newsletter, asked to reprint some of our logs. Thus began
a dialogue that spanned four years. Time and again as we sailed
into a new harbor or landed our dinghy on a sandy beach, we'd
say to each other, "I wonder what Charley will think
of this place?" or "we need to go out and have some
fun for Charley!" After posting each log on our Web site,
we'd anxiously await a response from Charley. Meanwhile, back
in San Antonio, Charley was dusting off his old logs and reliving
his own bygone adventures. He'd then sit down at his computer
and recount amusing experiences he'd had in whatever place
we were currently at. We didn't visit too many places where
Charley hadn't preceded us.
This log is dedicated to Charley, who by sharing our adventure
relived his own and enriched ours.
On Christmas Eve 2006, after crossing the Gulf Stream from
Florida to the Bahamas overnight, we watched the sun rise
before us, illuminating the clear, turquoise water on the
Bahama banks. What a thrill to be on our way--finally cruising!
We posted a log describing our adventures traveling through
the Abacos with friends. Charley wrote back.
Nick and Deanna,
Once again, you made my heart swell with
happiness (and a little lump in the throat) over your recent
adventure heading for the Bahamas. What a wonderful experience
with sailing and as well with having those great friends to
travel with. I'm sure you realize that you are enjoying the
essence of life by being able to do what you love to do and
having great friends to enjoy it with. I know that this didn't
come by accident, but by the rewards of planning, saving,
sacrificing, and working toward a goal you both wanted. I
congratulate you on your accomplishment -- you have done what
only a wee small group of people in the world have the guts
to do. You won't ever have to say, "gosh, I sure wish
we had of ----".
God bless you and have a wonderful, healthy,
fun-filled and adventurous New Year!!! I feel privileged in
being included in your mailings.
From the Abacos, we sailed to Eleuthera and received this
Nick and Deanna,
Thanks again for outstanding and exciting
reporting. The photos always come through like a champ. I
spent some time on Eleuthera at Valentine's lodging. We arose
at four AM one morning to catch a current just right for a
wild ride between two small islands. I have never seen or
been in such a current in my life! We all sat ready on the
gunnels and at the signal fell off into the current. We watched
our watches and together popped to the surface in five minutes.
We boarded and fought our way back up current to do it again.
We did five current dives before it died down. One member
dropped his Nikonos (really useless in that current) so we
looked for it next ride down. Several of us saw it but were
traveling so fast that we passed over it too rapidly to snare
it. The last trip down, I planned my approach and as I snared
it, the current threw me head over heels and I must have tumbled
ten times before righting myself. And to think that I paid
good money to get thrown around like that!
My only other dive in that area was Grand
Turk. The diving was very good but the island was four plus
s--tty (as bad as it gets). Many years ago the British Govt.
closed down the only means of making a living -- the salt
mine right in the middle of town. The entire island is on
welfare and is horribly run down with unpainted shanties and
broken cars and washing machines littering most yards. Every
house had some dirty fat slob sitting on the porch drinking
beer while stray horses grazed throughout the city. There
is no water so every drop possible of rain is caught in some
kind of receptacle -- more litter. The naval base closed and
the islanders were invited to attend the parting ceremony
when they were to be given the base keys and use the buildings
for classrooms. Only one person showed up -- a taxi driver!
He took the keys and by the next morning the base was stripped
of doors, windows, plumbing and all wiring ripped out. And
that's the way it sits today. I never went back.
Thanks again for reporting on your wonderful
trip. I read and re-read every word. Good sailing.
Our Bahamas adventure had been one big party until we got
to George Town, Exumas, where we had our infamous anchor dragging
incident. Our anchor popped out one night while the wind howled
and a seven-mile fetch sent 2-3 foot waves across the anchorage.
Over 300 boats were closely anchored in the crowded harbor,
and Caribbean Soul smashed into a neighbor. It was
a demoralizing experience, but we brushed ourselves off and
Boy! Did my easy chair feel safe and secure
while reading your latest adventures what with crashing boats
and dragging anchors! I would, however, have left it for a
minute to help out if I could. Easy to say that from here.
I want to thank you again for generously sharing your adventures.
You both are top notch sailors and show good common sense.
Continue to enjoy your fantastic adventure.
From the Bahamas, we traveled across the Caicos banks, astonished
by the green clouds above us that mirrored the emerald water
in which we sailed. From there, we sailed to Luperon in the
Dominican Republic, where we first encountered third-world
poverty. Next was the infamous Mona Passage to Puerto Rico,
which, thankfully, was benign and even gave us a wahoo to
celebrate our successful trip. Charley, ever the world traveler,
Another exciting tale you've told! I flew
to Puerto Rico recently to meet a cruise ship bound for islands
in the Eastern Caribbean. Little did I think of all the expert
seamanship that was being performed below on the water as
we flew comfortably overhead. I'll take a different view of
what might be going on below next time I cross an islandy
stretch of geography.
Can't wait for the next installment! PLEASE
DON'T LET THE FACT THAT I AM LANDLOCKED HERE SPOIL YOUR TRIP!
After Puerto Rico, Caribbean Soul made a quick tour
of the Virgin Islands before an extended stay in St. Maarten
for new chainplates and other improvements. With lots of new
goodies on board, we sailed south to St. Lucia, where we kept
a promise made eight years earlier on our wedding day: to
love, honor, and sail back there on our own boat. With the
majestic peaks of the Pitons astern, we sailed through the
so-incredibly-green-it's-gaudy waters of the Grenadines and
on to Grenada. Charley was having a great ride.
Dear Deanna -- Thank you again for such
a wonderful log segment of your most recent legs of your journey
to Carriacou and Grenada, who knows where else??
Your wonderful, vivid writing causes me
to run the gamut of emotions from empathy, sympathy (during
your adverse situations), heart- bumping excitement, and yes,
even a tear or two when you write of your reunions, romantic
settings of your engagement and wedding. Those flowers on
the water at the site of the proposal got me! It is a true
romantic adventure that you write of, and I am a succor for
romance! I did use a couple kleenexes!
God speed to you both and I pray that you
stay healthy and happy throughout your cruise -- and lives.
Freshman cruisers going south for hurricane season have
a hectic first year. By the time we reached Puerto La Cruz,
Venezuela in July, we were ready for a break. And so was Charley.
Dear Nick and Deanna,
Well, I think it is time we took a little
rest (I say "we" because I am living this with you
vicariously, you remember) and return later with a fresh feeling
You have had a fantastic adventure so far and it is smart
to take a little sabbatical and ward off sailor's burnout
I'm sure Dakota is about ready to get his land legs as well.
What a trooper!!!
Love and admiration,
After a new paint job and lots of other improvements, Caribbean
Soul was exploring the Venezuelan islands in early 2008.
When I get in to reading your logs, I find
it hard to put the computer down! I read some twice -- once
to "hear" what you have to say, and the second for
me while I imagine that I am along. You have given me some
With being into my 85th year, my physical
meanderings are somewhat slowed down, but the memories I have,
and the adventures you share still bring excitement and give
me a youthful spirit that is as active within me almost as
pleasurable as the adventures themselves. I find that the
more I bullshit myself, the happier I am!
May God and the winds you want be with you.
Having been a boater himself, Charley commiserated with
the travails of keeping our bad habit afloat.
I visited with the "No Busted Boat"
fairy and she promised to watch over you when you begin your
next cruise. I guess that's why I like cruise ships now. I
recall very vividly having to make a list of all the stuff
that needed fixing on my trawler each time I left her. I rented
a boat for a predicted log contest at the coast one year and
recall how much pleasure I had telling that guy what all was
wrong with his boat and just walking away.
But, the life you are living is worth it
all even if something does break. Those dry land cruises you
are taking now are fantastic and memories you'll always have
Very best friend Charley
In the summer of 2008, we lingered in the Venezuelan out-islands
enroute to Bonaire. We didn't have email, and Charley got
a little worried.
Nick and Deanna -- I worry that I have not
received an update on your adventures. Is everything OK? Do
you need a counselor? Can I send you some money or food? I
have people asking about you. Everything here is hunky dory.
I'm enjoying life as usual and the widows are still making
casseroles for me. I've been reviewing some of my diving logs
from the past 30 years and might do some writing. Things have
changed so much in that time that the modern day divers wouldn't
believe that we did what we did back in those days. "Primitive"
in diving doesn't go back all that many years. Wish I was
still "going down."
Your friend always,
While Nick and I were spending most of our time underwater
in Bonaire, one of Charley's old haunts, our armchair crew
had his own adventure.
For Father's Day, my kids surprised me with
an escorted all pre-paid trip to once again (after an absence
of 62 years behind the controls), fly my WWII P-51 Mustang!
Between heavy showers, the sky opened up
on 23 July 2008 allowing me an hour of beautiful sky for flying
any way I wished out of the Kissammee, FL airport. My loops
and rolls were a little sloppy, but near the end of the hour,
we almost became one again and I found myself looking for
an enemy airplane to have a dog fight with!
For a while, it felt like I had gone back
60 years, but felt my 84 again after landing and trying to
dismount (it took three people to get my old arthritic bones
out of there!).
Would I do it again? --- what time in the
In November, we departed Curacao and began a multi-week
passage to Cartagena, Colombia. Charley had some concerns,
but "we" had no problems.
Dear Nick and Deanna --- what a wonderful
morning I just spent reading your latest logs and looking
at the interesting pictures! I think my heart sped a bit with
some of the tight passes "we" made and I was almost
ready for a good sleep as you were after navigating some of
Piracy on your waters has been in our papers
in recent months and I have been worried that you might have
an unpleasant encounter. Much larger boats have been boarded
with pretty bad things happening. If you could flash an AK47
when approached, it might make someone turn tail and leave
you alone. It is good that you were told about the Coast Guard
dress with hoods and goggles -- that would scare the sh--
out of me! I would have given them more than just my name,
rank, and serial number!
I haven't been anywhere since my trip to
Orlando in July to fly once again in my WWII P51, I may make
it a regular trip every 62 years to keep proficient. I don't
want to get rusty! I turn 85 this month and am enjoying reflecting
back on some of my experiences and sometimes sit in my chair
and laugh like an idiot at some of the memories.
Watch for rocks, nets and ice bergs in the
water (with global warming, they are calving and floating
all over the place). Thanks for the wonderful logs and including
me in. I feel privileged.
From Colombia, we sailed to the San Blas Islands for two
incredible months of snorkeling and eating fresh fish, lobster,
and crab. We thoroughly enjoyed the indigenous Kuna Indians;
their simple lives and broad smiles made us rethink what it
means to be happy. Next stop was mainland Panama where Nick
was a line handler for another sailboat transiting the Panama
Canal. From there we headed north with stops in Providencia
and the remote Hobbies before reaching the Bay Islands of
Honduras. Several months had passed without any messages from
Charley, and we worried about our senior crew member.
I had a little health scare early this year.
I went to the hospital January 2nd with kidney failure, heart
failure, and pneumonia. I never go to the hospital until I
have a good trifecture of problems. After a couple of weeks
and five blood transfusions and many magic pills, I pissed
away 27 pounds and came home. I'm down to my fighting weight
but haven't had a fight yet to test my skill. I live at home,
of course, and am getting along just fine by being careful
and using good sense about unnecessary chances.
I'm still enjoying life and am a very happy
man with lots of good friends and memories. What else could
I wish for! You two have certainly enlightened my life by
generously including me in your letters written of your dream
trip. As I told you before, I endured your every problem with
you and enjoyed every breathtaking scene you sent back. Thank
you for including me as a friend (and shipmate vicariously).
Much love and may life continue to bless
Now that Charley was on his feet and back at the computer,
we received lots of stories about his time in Honduras and
We frequented Posoda del Sol on Guanaja
several times. A great resort and average plus a little diving.
Out in front of the hotel on the water there were three small
islands. One owned by a rich Mexican, I think who we never
saw. Another was owned by an ex-Corpus Christi plastic surgeon.
He did lots of boob jobs and had a series of failures which
brought along law suits. Well, he found out that his boob
product was faulty and he sued the mfg. for all the rest of
the money we don't have. Lots! Well, rather than settle with
the other law suits, he and his wife and an engineer friend
and his wife, who sold out a rich distributing business, jointly
bought the island. They built a beautiful house and landscaped
the island with walkways, great boat dock and a mother-in-law
house behind. We sat on the deck around the pool and looked
right at their island. We counted twelve boats!
Speaking of Banaca Town, we visited regularly
and got to know some of the people over there. All the kids
are of one half many different people. That is a sailor "home"
and sometimes sailors would "get friendly" with
some of the wives and make a French kid or Spanish, or almost
anything else. One other experience on Banaca was with the
doctor. My diving friend Martha was taking a picture of a
grouper and holding her camera close with her index finger
extended. A frequently fed barracuda took it for a weenie
and shot up and stripped it! For once I did not have my first
aid kit with me (which I used to sew up many divers on various
trips) so saw the doctor in Banaca Town. He was a little Oriental
with a thick accent. He had an examining table with one stirrup
(this brought many thoughts as to how that looked with a patient),
had a folding lawn chair, a bridge table for his instruments.
He sewed Martha's finger with grocery store string and then
disposed of the needle of the syringe thru a crack in the
floor. The same crack he used to urinate he told us with a
grin. He pointed to another larger hole in the floor which
he used as a commode. 3/4ths of the town is on stilts and
nearly all the stilt houses have the same bathroom arrangement.
Roatan brings back many memories -- we went
there for several years and rented a house perched above the
water facing French Harbor. If you do get to Roatan, the old
CSY harbor and hotel should still be intact. They were known
for supplies, but the bank was taking it over while we were
there one time, so can't guarantee much.
More on the CSY yacht rental marina. We
were so close by, that we got well acquainted with the operators
and personnel of the outfit. We bought our air from them while
they were open and sometimes afterwards we operated the compressors
ourselves. We knew the bank was soon to come, so watched as
they cannibalized parts and pieces from one boat to another
so as to sail it out of there at night to Belize. The bankers
knew absolutely nothing about the operation and would come
by in groups of five or six, drink beer and act like they
knew something. We didn't like them! They never knew just
how many yachts they had to repossess, so sometimes we would
occupy one for an hour and tell the banker that that one belonged
Well, one day an official letter came to
the CSY saying that tomorrow at 9:00 AM they would seize everything
and that was the end. The bank was not able to find a buyer.
To give our friends a little time, Bill and I put on our shirts
and shoes and went to the bank early the next day to inquire
about buying the remains of CSY. They got so excited they
offered us a drink and pulled out everything they had on the
outfit. We talked big for a long while (Bill and I tried to
"out-big shot" the other and we got so tickled we
thought we would blow the deal). We finally told them we would
have to get back to our partners in NYC so it would be a few
days making telephone conferences. They gave us as long as
it might take us and temporarily rescinded the evacuation
order for the club. Of course, that gave them [CSY] time to
ferry all the sailable and towable yachts out of harms way
and pilfer the supplies, etc. We didn't feel badly because
the local "citizens" were standing by ready to strip
the marina of everything including the plumbing, doors windows,
and copper wire.
Once the bank took over CSY, the guy that
owns the grocery store at French harbor bought it (for near
nothing) and managed to get about thirty or more young Christian
do-gooders from a stateside church to come down and help the
poor Hondurans dig out of their slums and try and make a better
life. Well, he worked those kids from early morn until late
at night repairing the docks, painting the rooms, fixing the
roof, and a million other chores. He did have to close his
bar for Jesus during their stay, but he refurbished the whole
thing for little or nothing. The poor Hondurans were still
sleeping on rocks and hauling water when they left. He is
Here comes Charley again!!! (go ahead and
puke over the side)
I visited Light House in July of 1990. We
flew over in a small plane from Belize City. As soon as we
landed, about thirty 55 gal. drums were placed on the runway
to keep drug runners from using it. I found I had my 500th
logged dive there and the divemaster took us to a newly discovered
reef and named it Charley's Place. I thought that was nice.
We went to the Blue Hole from there. We
found it to be everything we had read about. In reading my
log, it describes our going down to 120 feet to visit the
stalactites and stalagmites in a cave. I noted that our Martha
(from shredded finger fame) chased a barracuda around to get
a picture (that was the only fish we saw in the hole) and
kept going lower and lower from the 120 feet. I grabbed onto
her BC and pulled her higher and she was raging mad because
I interfered. She was 4 + norked! We decompressed just beneath
the sandy edge of the hole and everything got OK. She didn't
remember a bit of all that raging.
Well, I'll leave you alone for a while.
You have ruined my day because I have my old logs all around
me (9 books) and reminiscing and laughing at many memories.
We considered sailing back to the USA in the spring of 2009,
but had a last minute change of heart (the stock market improved)
and decided instead to spend hurricane season in Guatemala's
Rio Dulce. During our stay, we did some inland travel and
visited Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands. Now who
would think Charley had ever been there, but of course he
Nick and Deanna,
I'm glad you got to Lake Atitlan. We spent
five days at that beautiful hotel. They keep everything so
clean and beautiful. They had seven gardeners all of whom
tried to out-do the other. We took the big barge to the little
towns around the lake to the opposite side where the volcanoes
are and visited their markets and watched weaving, pottery
makers, and most everything else that is sold.
The owner of the hotel built the barge.
He first brought the 48-foot hull from Guatemala City by truck.
When they got to the little village just outside the hotel,
there was difficulty in making a left turn within the downtown
section, so they declared a holiday and closed down the city.
They had to remove wiring and take down the posts, removed
a couple of fronts of buildings (porches and plate glass and
lots of greenery such as small trees. They had music and dancing
and served lots of free food. It was a fiesta! Of course,
the hotel paid for restoring the buildings and infrastructure.
After the hull arrived at the hotel workshop, the owner (an
elder gentleman) fitted seats, cabin, installed motors and
a top. It became a beautiful barge.
In the Fall of 2009, we were still in the Rio Dulce waiting
for hurricane season to end and hoping for a weather window
to return home. Charley corresponded often since health problems
were keeping him homebound.
It's not long before we will be going out
of the river on high tide, is it? I don't think we are quite
ready to sell the boat and go back home. Something tells you
when you have had enough, you will know and that will be the
time to sell. Remember when you finally do sell the boat to
put a memorandum in the file for later telling all the reasons
you were glad to sell the damn thing. Several times I have
wondered why in the hell I sold my Trawler and just needed
to look in the file and that cooled me back down.
The reason for the long blog is two fold:
One, I love "visiting" with people like you who
do "my" things, and the other is doctor ordered
house bound stuff. I sometimes develop A-Fib. As you might
know, it is a "run away" beating of the heart that
needs to be corrected. Mine beat 145 times/minute this time.
I went to the hospital Monday morning to drive my son to the
doctor with a very painful knee. They wound up putting ME
in the hospital and he had to drive himself home. They treat
this by putting "the paddles" on the heart and giving
a mighty shock. Called cardioversion. This is about the fifteenth
time I have had this in as many years.
Sometimes he has to shock two or three times
before it goes back to normal, but yesterday it took only
one. When the doctor brought all his shocking shit to the
room he handed the pads to me and said,
"Here, Charley, do you want to do it
yourself this time?" He gives me an IV and has me tell
a joke and see if I can finish before I go to sleep. I completed
it this time by telling a story for a little 6 mo. pregnant
nurse standing by. Here it goes ---- a little seven year old
girl was watching her mother dry off after bathing and said,
"Mommy, aren't you getting fat?"
Her mother said, "No, this is your
little baby brother or sister I am carrying in here."
The little girl said, "Ah, I know all
that stuff, but what are you carrying in your butt?"
Must be 20 bells or whistles by now, so
am heading to my easy chair and get ready to lust for Vanna
Your erstwhile crew member en virtuoso,
A few days later, we crossed the bar at the Rio Dulce's
mouth and headed north to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where we planned
to wait for a weather window to Texas. During four years of
cruising, Nick was a devout weather junkie, and we were always
very selective about traveling with a good forecast. However,
in one of life's many ironies, we arrived in Isla Mujeres
amid squalls (due to a trough arriving 24-hours earlier than
forecast) and with a hurricane blowing up our skirts (due
to a low that finally developed after weeks of doing nothing
and us at last saying, "to hell with it, we're leaving!")
Back in San Antonio, Charley was watching Hurricane Ida, putting
us on the prayer list, and recalling past shenanigans.
This weather chart shows that we just might
be in the neighborhood of the TS Ida. I hope and pray that
we have found a safe haven to be out of it's path. I neglected
to comment when you wrote that you would like to see me when
in San Antonio. I would appreciate A VISIT VERY MUCH! I am
reserving room two, beds A and B if you wish to spend the
night or so.
Worry wart Charley
Dear Nick and Deanna --- I prayed again
when I received your note and God hollered down,
"Okay, Okay, Charley - I've got 'em.
Don't worry!" So, I guess you are covered for now.
Are you following my log books? I was docked
with a group for two days in Isla Mujeres waiting for better
weather. We had a good dive going to a sunken craft near the
lighthouse just full of great crabs. We brought back a ton
and the cook did a beautiful job despite his emptying a rum
bottle. At one time when he was boiling the water, I put my
rubber chicken in the pot. When he raised the lid, he stared
at it and replaced the lid and had a long draw on his bottle.
I removed the chicken and he continued just like nothing had
happened -- too much for him to figure out! Got lots of mileage
out of the rubber chicken!
I'm following the storm track I sent you
y'day and it indicates winds are down to 35 mph this morning.
Where are we hold up for the blow??
If you have a minute, please give me your
long/lat location. I am tracking the storm. You are on the
church's prayer list. It is a strong one and has a 98% success
God bless and keep!
Looks like you are just beginning to get
it now. GOOD LUCKI!!!!
Hurricane Ida ramped up to a Category 2 storm but stayed
out in the Yucatan Channel, missing Isla Mujeres.
Hooray!!!! Champaign tonight! I'll tell
the old ladies in the church prayer circle to drop you.
A perfect weather window back to Texas opened up about a
week later, and we set sail into the Gulf of Mexico. But a
few days later, the forecast changed and we ended up in Tampa,
Florida. We made offshore hops to Panama City and Biloxi,
and a day trip in the intracoastal waterway to Slidell. By
then, winter's cold fronts were too frequent for an offshore
run to Texas, and we had to take the waterway through Louisiana.
But Charley was ready with advice.
I made that crossing and we did have some
weather. We took the intracoastal all the way to Houston where
we left the boat for repairs. The owner's beautiful daughter
was sunning on the deck in her bikini when we got to the first
lock. She handled the basket lowered and put some cookies
in with the credentials. At the next lock, they radioed for
the white pleasure boat to come ahead of the line --- there,
she put in cookies and added some beer. It went that way for
the rest of the locks!
YOU CAN DO THIS!
Happy Thanksgiving in the Marina!
As Caribbean Soul approached the end of her voyage,
we were all feeling sentimental.
Dear Nick and Deanna ---It is true --"The
longest mile is the last mile home." Also the saddest.
Maybe the Good Lord roughened you up during your last few
days at sea so parting those heavenly waters to shitty waters
and conditions would ease your transition from three and a
half years of sublime seafaring to ridiculous weather and
water. Maybe helped make you ready to get out of that thing
much easier than it would have been if, say, you sold it in
Bonaire and your flying away forever from that beautiful boat
sitting in pristine waters -- bigger tears would have been
shed, I am sure. I helped you shed a few tears when leaving
her at Slidell. I have enjoyed your logs of both good and
not-so-good experiences, but you two outstanding sailors with
wizardly judgment and knowledge of the sea pulled me through
every time -- and I thank you!
Always and forever,
Caribbean Soul's journey ended in early March with
our arrival in Clear Lake, south of Houston. We continued
exchanging emails with Charley, promising to visit him soon.
But first we had to visit family, and then there was the varnish,
and then our own health issues. In the early summer, we received
June 22, 2010
To: All my E-mail Buddies
I appreciate all the 1650 unread messages
found on my computer upon returning home this last Friday
after 7 weeks in the hospital!
What happened, was that before my evening
shower, I made a misstep mounting my doctor scale, tilting
it, and thereby being thrown into the empty bath tub with
my head hitting the wall-mounted soap dish first. I did not
break anything but escaped with a tremendous "goose egg"
and beautifully bruised body (I take a blood thinner). The
diagnosis was subdural hematoma, as I had expected, due to
On the third morning I suddenly lost my
right side and called EMS. I was sort of "out of it"
for a week or two, and am now on the road to recovery. I am
home now, using a walker or cane and improving daily. ............I
expect 100% recovery!!!
Love to you,
We heard from Charley a few more times and then another
period of silence. On my birthday, an email arrived from Charley
with the subject "Change in the Date of Charley Fladger's
Funeral." I clicked open the message with a smile, thinking
he had forwarded another joke. After all, Charley was immortal.
But it wasn't a joke. Charley's daughter had sent the notice
to his email buddies. Charley had passed away the day before
from congestive heart failure at the age of 86.
The expression "old age is a state of mind" seems
trite until you meet someone like Charley. He maintained his
zeal for life to the end, long after his failing body forced
him to undertake his adventures vicariously. With his jokes,
stories, and encouragement, our "armchair admiral"
made our sailing trip more memorable. Throughout our journey,
we collected many treasures of the heart: people and places
that we'll hold dear forever. Charley was one of those treasures.
Sometimes in the morning calm I'm certain I hear angels laughing,
and I know Charley is still telling his tales. He taught us
by example how to age gracefully by living a life that embraces
joy and faith. He taught us that life is a glorious adventure
and a blessing. Thank you Charley.
Dr. Charles Betts Fladger
We arrived in the Bahamas on Christmas Eve
Under sail in the Abacos, Bahamas.
Playing with iguanas in Allens Cay, Bahamas.
Dakota with the wind in his ears.
Caribbean Soul in Warderick Wells,
Exuma Cays, Bahamas.
A brittle star on the beach, George Town,
Over 300 hundred boats gathered in George
Looking out for reefs on the Caicos Banks.
Pedestrian traffic in Luperon, Dominican
Sunrise off the northern coast of the DR.
Nick catches a big wahoo in the Mona Passage
to Puerto Rico.
An offering of flowers for a dream realized
in St. Lucia.
Angel Falls, Venezuela--tallest waterfall
in the world.
Laguna Grande, Venezuela.
Cienegita anchorage, Venezuela.
Los Nevados, high in the Andes Mountains
Pristine beach in the remote Las Aves islands,
Underwater paradise in Bonaire, Netherland
Salt domes in Bonaire.
Colorful Dutch buildings in Curacao, Netherland
Caribbean Soul anchored between the
old and the new cities, Cartagena, Colombia.
Molas for sale in the San Blas islands of
Stilt house in Guanaja, Honduras.
Incredible diving in Roatan, Honduras.
Half Moon Cay at Lighthouse Reef, Belize.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
Rio Dulce, Guatemala.
Back in the USA, trading our swimsuits for