Why am I still here?

So I’m in the United States. I’m suppose to be on my way down the 1 highway through Baja but I’m laying in the back of my packed Jeep, kayak and all, at the beach waiting for a doctors signature so I can be on my way with this trip that I’ve been talking about for the past 6 months.  As you may imagine, it’s frustrating to be stuck here but not so much for the reason that I’m actually stuck here. I’m frustrated because I’ve told everyone that I’m leaving on a certain date for months now and here I am pushing the date back for the 2nd time. When I say I’m going to do something and spread the word to everyone, I make sure that it happens. Telling the world that I’m moving to Mexico has left me with a lot of doubters and people saying I’ll be back in a week. If anything, that’s only been motivation to get me to leave sooner!

So why am I still here?! Well the reason is good, though ridiculous. If you’ve read my last couple of blogs, you know I was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident. This accident left me pretty crippled for good deal of time. Well as a result of being disabled, my license was taken away for fear that I would be a dangerous driver and unable to safely respond in traffic. Since being pulled over in Mexico is pretty much part of the culture, there’s no way I would leave the country without some kind of Driver License. Now I know what you’re thinking right now. “Well if the accident happened 7 months ago, why didn’t you just take care of the issue months ago?” Excellent question!  It’s because they just recently decided to suspend my license, 7 months after the accident!  It all happened while I was at the DMV being a good citizen and registering my newly purchased Jeep. It was February at the time and I was still in my wheelchair. While talking to clerk at the DMV, I was asked why I was in a wheelchair. While I was surprised that I was being asked this question because I figured it was seen as a rude question to ask in the world, I went ahead and explained what had happened to me. Months later, when I was certainly no longer disabled I receive a letter that I my license was suspended. After inquiring about why this was, I was informed that the gentleman at the DMV had reported me but a tad bit late and caused this whole fiasco.  Now I agree that your driving abilities should probably be questioned if you’re in a bad accident. However, I think the doctor is someone a bit more qualified and capable of making an educated decision on how disabled one might be. My doctors had more than one chance to say no more driving when I was actually too disabled to operate a car but it wasn’t seen as a big enough issue. I now need to get a doctor notes for the DMV and must wait a few weeks for them to process everything so I can get a new license. Getting through to my doctor is turning out to be a bit more difficult that expected so I’m expecting to be here in the States for another 3 weeks at least.

In the meantime, I’ve been invited to race on a team in the San Diego Beer Can races on a Thomas 35′. For a while now, my interest has been migrating towards racing sailboats over cruising on them. I’ve mainly just been wanting to experience sailing on the next level and hone in my skills a bit more so I can become a better sailor altogether. I’ve also been sailing on Hobie Cats a few times a week and those babies have given me the need for speed on the water! The beer can races are a summer race series that takes place every Wednesday evening in the San Diego Bay at 6pm with all different classes of boats. Last night was my first time racing in one of the Beer Can races. I’m an experienced sailor and I’m not afraid to head out in any seas, but when it comes to racing I feel like a complete amateur… Which technically, I am when it comes to racing sailboats. Aboard a race boat, is the most hostile environment I’ve ever been in. People are yelling the seconds to start, yelling at other boats, yelling about possible collisions with approaching boats, moving fast, tripping on lines, hiking over the side… Did I mention yelling? Sailing has always been a very relaxing passion of mine, even in bad weather. 80% of the time, I have time to analyze what needs to be done and execute in a timely manner. Racing, on the other hand, is constant and fast! You’re constantly adjusting the sails, you’re debating on which line to sail on, you’re avoiding bad winds from other boats, and always debating on if it’s a good idea to tack now or tack later. All of this is happening simultaneously and it turns a very familiar activity into an almost foreign one for me. But I love it! It’s almost like learning how to sail all over again! With all that being said, I did really good out there.IMG_0549

My position on the boat was trimmer. I’ve always been pretty anal when it came to trimming sails so I think it’s a good spot for me on the boat. No complaints about my performance and as a team we all did really well. We actually placed 5th out of the 16 boats in our class. Regardless it was fun and the team wants me back to race again next week so I have no complaints. Another cool thing was that the actual designer of the Thomas 35′ was on the boat and skippered the race. At 86 years old he was still living out his passion of being on the water and racing. And what better person to have sailing the boat than the actual designer himself! For photos of the race, click here.

So I’ve got a little bit more time to take care of any leftover business/goof off for a bit so I’m taking advantage of the extra time and making sure there’s nothing else that can keep me from leaving again! However, after looking at the weather, I’ve noticed Hurricane Andrew having some fun around Baja and it’s looking like it’s going to be delivering a little bit of weather to the Peninsula. We’ll see how strong it picks up and if it’s going to be another road block. But for now, most of my days involve waiting in some kind of doctors office or urgent care trying to make some kind of progress and see a doctor. It’s been proving to be one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever taken on. So much so I’m almost ready to get in another accident so I can see a doctor immediately! But I suppose some extra time sailing in the states won’t hurt me too much either. If you or anyone you know is a doctor with a Medical License and care to help me out with your signature, PLEASE contact me at your soonest convenience! MY email is scseanhall@gmail.com! I’ll make it worth your while! In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on my trip status and my racing results!

Fair winds,

Capt’n Sean.

Advertisements

The Plan

I’ve been been traveling to and from the depths of Baja, learning the culture, the language, and the lifestyles. With a future boat on my mind, a business plan, and a passion for adventuring, the itch to move down to Mexico has never been so itchy! Everyday, it is the first and last thing on my mind. If I hadn’t just committed myself to something for the rest of the month of April, I’d probably follow my impulses and leave tomorrow. So what’s the plan?

IMG_3947Originally, I was planning on heading down to La Paz and spending the month of June house and dog sitting. During this time, I would work on building my connections, shopping for boats, looking at properties, exploring my new home town, and of course, relaxing out on the tropical waters of Mexico. What would happen after that month was all to be played by ear. Simply put, I was going to see where the winds were blowing and head that direction. While all of that is still the current plan, that one month has turned into 5 months due to 2 more house sitting opportunities. And knowing what I’m capable of accomplishing with 5 months of time, it’s a safe bet that I won’t be coming back to the U.S. to live anytime soon.

While I have a few options for side work while I’m down there, my main focus, in terms of work, is on starting up a touring company. These past few months, I’ve been driving back and fourth across the border to explore the depths of Baja and familiarize myself with all the little towns and attractions. I won’t be going too far into detail about this touring business that I’m working on but I’m shooting to have a solid game plan by the end of this year and be able to begin giving tours throughout the Peninsula by the beginning of next year. I’ll write more about this in the future when there is a more solid game plan. Another option that I’ve been working on creating for myself is getting my Captain License and finding a boat that I can captain. A few months ago I began studying for my Captains License and after reaching out to a few people, I’ve come across the owner of a Cheoy Lee 42 in need of a new captain for his boat. I’ve met with the owner twice now and after an interview a few nights ago night, it’s looking like there will be a nice future sailing this boat around the Sea of Cortez. This too will be talked about more in future writings.

IMG_3935

After having to cancel my plans to go cruising in October, the main thing on my mind was to get back on a boat immediately. Being boatless is a scary way to live my life. Everyday of my life is relative to boats in one way or another so I’ve had a sharp eye out all over the World Wide Web for my next vessel. How can a man fulfill his total potential without his own ship to sail on? With the help of a few contacts down in La Paz, I’ve been introduced to a 1972 Rawson 30. She’s not the prettiest of boats, nor is she in the best shape. In fact, she’s probably a boat that I normally wouldn’t take on as a project. However, given her price tag, my level of motivation to just be and work on my own boat again, and the little fact that she’s being sold with the ownership of a mooring ball located in the harbor of La Paz, I’m making a few exceptions here. Worse comes to worse, I can use the boat to live on and have a free place stay in La Paz and rent out the mooring to other cruisers. So I’m undecided as of now and will go through my list of deal breakers once I get down there and see the boat in person. I certainly won’t be making any impulsive decisions that will result with me owning a boat that never leaves the dock. And In the unfortunate case that I can’t find a boat that I want to buy right away while I’m down there, I’m coming prepared with another boat.

IMG_3777

This past month, I’ve been working with the fine people of Aqua Adventures down in Mission Bay, San Diego. With their help, I’ve been able to get my hands on a 17.5ft Necky sea kayak, the Looksha IV, and the gear necessary to go on some great paddling adventures. I’ve also been taking a few classes to learn some of the different skills necessary for open water kayaking from strokes to capsize recovery and rolls. Aqua Adventures has opened many more doors and introduced a hobby to me that I never knew I would fall in love with. They’ve also introduced me to some great people associated with not only paddling but also resourceful contacts down in Mexico. So I’d love to show my appreciation to them and look forward to a future of paddling with them. If you ever find yourself in Mission Bay or La Jolla and are looking for a good day out on the water, stop by their shop and meet the team. They’ll give you some of the best and knowledgable service and point you in the direction of a great adventure. You can check them out hereIMG_3834

Currently, I’m trying to find someone to join me on the adventure down. I plan on spending a week or so making my way down to La Paz. In that time, I want to stop along all the nice beaches, kayak around the clear waters, search for whale sharks to swim with, and eat all the fish tacos that my stomach can handle. Preferably, I won’t be doing all of this fun stuff alone so if anyone is interested in joining me for the trip down, please let me know. Airfare back North is only around $100 so it’s reasonably affordable. You’ll have to be flexible on time as I can’t guarantee anything but if you’re interested then shoot me an email at scseanhall@gmail.com and lets go further into depth.

This post has been particularly hard for me to write. While I’ve had dozens of opportunities come my way, I’ve had to turn a lot of them down because they interfere with one another or some aren’t even set in stone enough for me to start preaching about them to everyone. While it may sound like I have a lot of things figured out, until I get down there I have a lot of uncertainties to still figure out that definitely leave this trip capable of throwing a few curve balls my way… as preferred in any of my adventures. What I do know for sure is that I’m creating a really great future for myself. While there will most likely be some pretty gnarly speed bumps that I come across along the way, I know that things are only going to get better and more opportunities are going to manifest from each previous adventure. I look forward to sharing each and everyone of those with you all and hopefully having some of you along for a few of my adventures.

Starting From Scratch

So I’m sitting in my hotel room right now overlooking Poipu Beach in Kauai, Hawaii. It’s raining outside, heavy for Hawaii even, and it dons on me that I haven’t written anything on my blog in almost a year. With nothing to do and a lot to write about, I’ve decide to sit down and start writing again. The past few months in particular have been full of travel and adventure with no end in sight any time soon. But before I tell you about all that, I must update you on the events that have led up to now. Where to begin?

About a year ago, I published my last post on here. I was just starting the long and fun process of prepping Que Sera for cruising. October 27th was the date I was to sail away from the docks and start the next chapter of my life. I spent the next 4 months working day and night preparing for the big sail. As September came to an end, there was very little left on the to-do list. But of course as every story that I have, there always tends to be a twist. On October 1st, I was involved in a motorcycle accident in an Los Angeles intersection about two blocks from the marina where Que Sera was berthed. Not knowing it at the time, this accident would change my life forever.

I’ve been in many motorcycle accidents. I’ve been extremely fortunate in every single one of those accidents and I’m grateful for the skills that I’ve acquired over the years from riding for there is no way I would still be alive today without them. Whether it has been by chance or there really is something looking after me, my track record for getting back up and walking away has been nothing short of a miracle. But as every experienced riders knows, there is going to be that big accident someday and this was my day. I was traveling down a main road in Santa Monica at 40 mph when a vehicle pulled out in front of me in an intersection. I managed to swerve out of the way at the last second but I was forced to slam into the back of a stopped semi-truck. Thankfully, and miraculously, I did not hit my head (don’t ask how I managed not to) and so was conscious through everything. My body was completely mangled and all my limbs on my left side were facing in opposite directions. Now, being the optimistic person that I am, I immediately looked at my body and said to myself, “Oh good! I just dislocated everything! They can just pop all that stuff back in and I’ll be good!” Well I couldn’t have been more incorrect on that assumption. At 40 mph, the impact shattered my pelvis, left elbow, and left wrist, and dislocated/broke my left shoulder and left knee. And due to the severity of my pelvis, there was a mass amount of internal bleeding that ultimately caused me to bleed out. I was pronounced dead for one minute and twenty-six seconds. I remember waking up again when we arrived to the hospital but no recollection of the ambulance ride aside for making a joke to the paramedic before I bled out.

10348385_748306878557729_1227983286212468708_n

I ended up spending the next two months in the hospital. The first two weeks I stayed at UCLA medical center and the remaining month and a half at a skilled nursing facility in San Diego. These two months were some of the hardest days that I’ve ever endured. I’ve been through a decent amount troubles in my life and I have managed to handle most of them pretty well but this was like nothing I had ever been through. While the pain was horrible, it was nothing compared to the emotional pain that I went through. I’m a pretty happy person who has an extreme passion for life. I love to live, love, learn, and experience new things in my life. I have acquired many coping skills through the years and have put most of them to good use to keep that smile on my face but the emotional toll that is put on you when you’re living in a hospital is just horrible. Being the positive person that I am, I have always avoided negativity and haven’t been in too many situations where I couldn’t walk away when negativity was present. I found myself surrounded by very unhappy people. People who understandably didn’t have a whole lot to be happy about but being surrounded by them really rubbed off on me. And the pain meds that I was on caused me to go on these emotional roller coasters that made life a thousand times more difficult than it needed to be. The highs were pretty miserable and the lows were just LOW. While I understand why pain meds are addicting, I don’t understand why people choose to take them recreationally without ever needing them… Except for Dilaudid. That stuff is amazing and needs to be kept locked up! And because of how great Dilaudid was, I knew it was important for me to get off of my pain meds immediately! I managed to only spend three weeks on heavy narcotics before I switched to smaller pain killers such as ibuprofen and Benedryll for sleeping.

1000272_727075287347555_5715514557799408389_n

After getting off my meds, I was able to start working on being positive. I had a very limited amount of energy and the way I looked at it was I could either spend it all on being negative or I could spend it all on being positive! With that being my option, it was a no brainer where I needed to spend all of my energy. I did my best to communicate with other patients and learn about why they were in the hospital and I spent a lot of time trying to be active. Most of my time in the hospital was spent in bed sleeping. But for the 5-6 hours of the day that I was up and about, I was the most active person in the hospital. I would wheel through the corridors with my one arm and one foot at hight speeds visiting anyone willing to have a conversation about anything. I also spent a lot of time in the physical therapy room lifting my three pound dumbbell with my good arm. I dropped to a staggering 109 lbs during my hospital stay so when I began feeling well enough to venture out of my bed, I was determined to get back into shape. Before I knew it, I was doing one handed wheelies in my wheel chair when the nurses weren’t looking and doing anything that I could to keep from going insane.

10704087_10152859313909274_230576322424059406_n

As a sailor and an outdoorsman in general, I’ve learned the importance of looking positively towards the future. During times of survival, it’s the ones who say “WHEN I get out of this situation.”, WHEN I see my wife next…”, WHEN I get home, I’m going to…” that make it through the other side and get to step out of that life raft. Not the ones that are saying, “IF” the whole time. It shows the importance of being positive. But with this knowledge, I began planning what I wanted to do with my life once I recovered. Going cruising was no longer an option. Figuratively speaking, that ship had sailed and I was left with a blank page. It was my job to write the first word of this new chapter and I had the option to go in any direction that I chose with nothing to hold me back.

After this accident, I found myself to be single, homeless, unemployed, and possessing few belongings with little to no commitments to anything. Now to most people, single, homeless, and unemployed sound pretty horrific but I saw an opportunity in it. I saw it as having more options than I have ever had before. Fortunately, I had over $13,000 saved up in the back that I was planning on going cruising with and I know how to stretch a dollar pretty well so I knew I had some wiggle room. Immediately, I became fixated with Mexico. I started looking at properties and investment opportunities south of the border and coming up with ways to make a living. I know I am capable of being successful in anything I choose to put my energy and heart into and I also know I’m very adaptable. With the help of a few connections south of the border, I’ve began traveling back and forth into Mexico in the past few months to further explore my options and see what I have to offer Baja.

11024595_799776743410742_8195012377555296999_n

Currently, I have been working with a partner and building a business plan that we are shooting to launch early next year. My main goal, which is open ended at this point, is to buy property, beach sides preferably, down in La Paz, Baja California Sur, and rent the property out as a vacation Rental. My aim is to have residual income flowing in 5 years to responsibly carry on my sailing adventures and any other new hobbies or interests with less distraction in the financial department. I will be going further into depth on this topic in future blogs.

10502212_10153142852391252_7047387889682565898_n

So where am I at now with my recovery? I have got 11 screws and 5 plates in my pelvis and 6 screws and 2 plates in my left elbow. I am suppose to have surgery on my shoulder but I have full range of motion with little to no pain at all and will most likely decline surgery unless convinced otherwise. I am still doing occupational therapy for my elbow and am working towards being able to straighten it. I will more than likely never be able to completely straighten my elbow but a second surgery is being considered in the coming months if I am not happy with my capabilities. So far I’m not too unhappy with what I can do. My pelvis feels as good as it ever has. I’m still a little weak in the sense that my leg gets tired after doing about a miles worth of walking in a day, which is a very little amount for me, but other than that I don’t have any restrictions and just need to continue strengthening my leg muscles. The only real issue that I am still dealing with is my left knee. A little bit of crunchy sounds and pain here and there but not the end of the world. MRI’s have been taken on the knee and I’m beginning to see a new specialist to see what more we can do to speed up the healing. (Update: I was diagnosed with some kind of knee syndrome where my patella slides out of place and causes my knee to give out under too much pressure. I don’t remember the name of the syndrome but it is a result from the atrophy I experienced. The good news, nothing is permanent and I will be making a slow but full recovery in the knee by simply continuing to strengthen the surrounding muscles and ligaments. Until I have that strength again, I have a knee brace which holds the Patella in place.)

With all these injuries, screws, and surgeries, one would think I’m pretty limited in my abilities now. Well contrary to popular belief, I am back at my old speed and even more active than before. While I do tire easily now, I have adopted the phrase, “Mind over matter” as my new motto and manage to still pass people hiking up mountains and swim in the ocean on a regular basis, along with many other activities… Especially sailing! With a positive attitude, I have managed to start a new page in my life on a good foot and big smile on my face.  I’ve learned more about myself and other people from this accident and I couldn’t be more grateful in the life lessons that I’ve learned, regardless of how awful it may have been.

10930110_807298749325208_1939316689792514460_n

Finishing Touches on Mongo

So yesterday I stopped into SD Boat Works to pick up some new turnbuckles for my rigging. While I was there I met David Servais who happens to be the project manager of the TP52, “Bud”. It just so happens I was speaking to the owner of “Bud” not too long ago on the phone. After talking for a little while and exchanging info, I was told the boat was being outfitted with a new mast and rudder and that he would call me to come down sailing on her once she was fitted with her new items! I see a lot of doors and opportunities opening up there and I’m very excited to start taking advantage of such opportunities!

20140305-183842.jpgThis is a TP52 which you can understand why I would be so excited!

After meeting with David, I cruised on down to Half Moon Marina to help my my buddy and infamous sailor, Ronnie Simpson, to get his boat, Mongo, ready for his next big adventure, sailing solo to Hawaii on his engineless Cal 2-27. We took care of all the provisions, stowed everything nicely, and watched the waterline sink below the water from all the added weight.

20140305-185050.jpg
With the provisions completed, we pulled the rudder off in the water and lubed up the the rudder shaft. It was definitely a kick to watch Ronnie wrestle the rudder in the water and find the right angle to put it back on. Apparently rudders float so installing them in the water is a bit of a hassle. As of now, Mongo is ready to sail off to Hawaii and never look back.

If you’d like to follow Ronnie on his adventure, you can do so by following his website at http://www.openbluehorizon.com.

Mishaps at Sea

So the storm has finally passed and the winds are blowin strong still. A little too strong for a relaxing sail but a fun one nonetheless. The winds picked up to about 22 knots out there and had everyone holding on tightly.

I met up with a couple new friends, Jo (the girl with three first names) and Brittany, and had first mate “little” Patrick help out sail the boat yesterday. Getting out of my downwind slip was a little bit of a struggle as usual but I’m starting to get a system down that works well enough to do on my own. After out of the slip we were able to sail straight out of the channel without having to tack a single time for a first! So we made our way out about 3 miles before making a port tack and headed towards La Jolla.

The swells out there were around 8-10 feet and were really doing a good job throwing the boat around! Water was splashing over the bow and hitting us in the cockpit. The rails were completely underwater as well as a couple portholes forward of the boat! The main had a single reef in it which I reluctantly put in before leaving the dock! However, I was still flying my 150% genoa so she was healed over quite a lot! Perfect for using the main like a hammock and relaxing in however.

20140304-192551.jpgLike I said, she was really far healed over!

Right before turning back to port, my least favorite part while sailing, I heard a rather large cracking sound only to realize that there goes my tiller!!! My tiller had just snapped from the pressure and I didn’t have a back up tiller on board yet! After freaking out inside my head for a few seconds, I released the main a little to ease tension on everything! The tiller was still intact but no longer strong enough to handle too much stress.

We began the slow sail back into the channel, dropped the sails, and drifted right into the slip without issue! Tomorrow, I’ll head out to buy a new Tiller and a back up tiller for emergencies like today. My heart sank into my chest hearing that cracking sound and the thought of what not having steering in 22 knots of wind was going to be like! The emergency tiller is a must have next to life jackets if you ask me!

While I was able to control the boat today, sailing in this amount of wind without being able to put in more than 1 reef or having the option to switch from a genoa to a standard jib sail really made things much more difficult and less safe. I’m sure the tiller never would have broken if there was less sail area out as well. So adding to the project list is to buy a 100% jib sail and a storm headsail so I can sail through just about any condition that comes my way. While I don’t plan on heading out into storms on purpose, I’d rather have on hand a storm sail, and be prepared, than get caught in bad winds and not have the right sail. I’m also going to have 1 or 2 more reefing points installed into my mainsail. If any of you know someone who’s selling a headsail for a 29′ footer, give them my email, scseanhall@gmail.com or contact info if you have that.