Alaska to Vanuatu

A Tale of Care2Go Sailing

Steve, Ysa and I have set out to Sail for Good.  It will take us several months to make it to Kaya, the boat, but the journey has officially begun.  

A little back story for those who are just meeting us.  Steve and I, Amy,  are nurses with many years of emergency and critical care experience in several hospitals and states.  We love what we do but have both, in similar ways, felt the call to serve others who don’t have access to basic health care and education.  Steve’s goal to provide such care to remote places via sail boat has been in the works for over 10 years.  I, on the other hand, have dreamt of a large plot of land with animals and some housing to do the same for women and children in Central or South America.  Plans change and as we talked more about our life goals it became clear that merging our dreams is what we are meant to do.  And so, Care2Go Sailing was born; a man, a woman and her dog on a boat doing good.

How do you go about Sailing for Good?  We have to find a boat.  A brand new boat is out of the question, we don’t have funds for that so we look at used boats.  As luck has it, I ran across a lovely catamaran one night at work (during my break 😉 ) and text it to Steve to look at since I know nothing about sail boats, yet.  Within seconds the doors to ICU fly open and Steve sits next to me and says, “I know that boat!”  A phone call in the morning and several conversations with Pierre begins the negotiations.  Several months later, Kaya is part of Care2Go Sailing!  

Now the work truly begins.  I’ll save you from all the details.  Steve has been working hard on establishing C2Go Sailing from the nonprofit organization side as well as networking with ministries of health, WHO, and developing a medical advisory board and protocols. Ysa and I give him moral support!

Looking at what we need to do to get to Kaya as soon as we can, we decide to spend a few months travel nursing in the lower 48 to spend time with family before we set sail.  It is going to be difficult for us to return to the US once we are well underway.  

Part One:  The Journey Begins

Anchorage to Reno by way of the road

Day 1: The trailer loaded, our last shift worked and we said goodbye to Anchorage on January 4th, a little behind schedule (that is totally on me).  Our first stop on the itinerary was Whitehorse, 700 miles from Anchorage. Steve had plotted route with lofty goals for winter travel.  We made in to Tok instead, 318 miles of highway with most of it in negative temps.  The hotel was a welcome site at -36 degrees.  I had hoped to finally be able to take off my down jacket, hat and snow skirt once in the room.  I didn’t think it an unrealistic hope but the draft though the door and a heater that didn’t go above 62 degrees proved otherwise.  Maybe a hot shower would warm the bones.  Nope, lukewarm was the best it got.  

Day 2: Happy to get back in the truck with a heater that works we drive on down the road to Whitehorse for a quick overnight. It wasn’t much warmer outside but the hotel was a definite upgrade!  We had hot water and a heater that produced a toasty room.  Ysa finally quit shivering.  It was heavenly!  

Day 3:  A brief break from negative digits. We hit 0 degrees at Swan Lake.  Alas, it was short lived. Around lunch we braved a walk down the path to Laird Hot Springs in -14 degrees with a bitter wind.  I chickened out and didn’t tested the water with my fingers.  -14 is a bit cold for a dip, even in a warm spring (it wasn’t really hot).  A few miles down from the springs we hit -40 degrees and long stretches of road without sight of other vehicles.  That was quite unnerving, but the worst was yet to come. There is a section of the AlCan, what I imagine to be beautiful in other circumstances, from Teslin to Fort Nelson that I hope to never see again.  It was pitch black, gusting winds blowing snow across a twisting lakeside 2 lane highway.  596 miles after leaving Whitehorse, we happily pulled into Fort Nelson, BC.  Just like that, Ysa became an international traveller.  

Alaska behind, Canada ahead

Day 4: Ft Nelson to Edmonton, a mere 650 mile trek.  Spirits were high, the temperature was not.  That didn’t hinder the wild life.  Caribou and bison were everywhere.  Ysa wasn’t quite sure that it was safe for us to slow down for a better look at the bison.  We pulled into Edmonton for another first. Ysa in an elevator!  She did well on the first trip up.  Potty break that night and the morning constitutional were another story…she just bellied down and shook for the 1 floor decent. 

Day 5: Edmonton to Billings, Montana was a short 720 mile drive into a balmy 26 degrees.  We almost put on our shorts and flip flops but thought better of it after a few minutes outside.  Ysa was thrilled at frisbee time without frostbit toes.  She slept well after her romp on the positive side of 0.

Day 6-7: We left Billings for Denver  and after 580 miles we had the luxury of a stop to help relocate Jake, my son.  He was supposed to caravan down the AlCan with us but as fortune would have it that was not to be.  There is no way a front wheel drive sedan would have survived the brutality of the trip to this point. I know that I, as a mother, would not have.  Overnight shut eye and then we spent the next day doing “moving to a new place” errands.  Our grandest of intentions was to leave Denver at lunch and drive as far as we could to shorten the distance between us and Reno.  It was not meant to be.  A, not so brief, visit to an occupational health clinic for yet another MMR vaccine for me was in the stars.  The disastrous possibility of being delayed for a start date was averted by some fancy foot work by our recruiter and “compliance consultant”.  A few hours after plan, we were on our way for a 440 mile drive through thick fog in the deep of night parking, finally, in Evanston, Utah.  

Day 8:  We awoke to the hope of a final day on the road, at least for a few months, and loaded to go.  Ysa was very restless and not being the best listener she can be.  The challenges of being a truck dog are strenuous!  Those challenges paid off another 600 miles later.  RENO WE”VE ARRIVED!  Time for bed.  

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