(Norma) Back pain is a real pain when living on a boat (or any other time -Allen.) So knowing that Yale New Haven Hospital was there, I finally admitted to Allen that I needed relief from not being able to bend down, lie down, or sit down without agony. I spent 20 minutes with Fed Blue Cross to get info on which providers to contact. Meanwhile, Allen anchored the boat in the middle of New Haven Harbor.
(Allen) While Norma was on the phone and I was anchoring, we got a call on VHF channel 16 from a large motor yacht, Freedom, 104' out of Newport RI, asking if we were anchoring, When I replied , "Yes," they said they too would anchor, but they would avoid us and wait until we got settled.
(Norma) I called around and finally after getting curt "No, you can't get an appointment today or tomorrow" from doctor office admin people, I finally got a real nurse who heard the tears in my voice and worked to get me an appointment at 3:30 p.m. today with an orthopedist at Yale Medical.
(Allen) That gave me an hour and a half to find a place near the office, get permission to dock there, tie up, and get a ride to the office in time for the appointment. Just then I hear Freedom on channel 16 again; this time they were hailing New Haven Town Dock but getting no reply. I was looking at the chart for a nearby marina and I saw town dock was only a 5- minute drive from the office. I saw Freedom, heading down a very narrow, unmarked passage marked on the chart as dredged.
(Norma) Allen calls the number given for the town dock and gets the Mayor's Office. They have no idea that a town dock even exists, much less who might be in charge of it. Allen calls Freedom back on the radio, and they tell us there is room for us on a float just behind them.
As we near the dock I scramble for my purse and things to go ashore, Allen managing to navigate the decreasing depths, we looked up. The dock was afire! A small flaming burst came from a creosote-covered piling at the end of the dock right where we were about to tie up. There were two crewmembers of Freedom on the dock ready to take our lines. Allen was already on the radio with the Coast Guard who wanted us to take a cell-phone photo of the fire and email it to them. Allen explained to them that he was too busy maneuvering in shallow water and did not have time to also take a photo of the fire.
(Allen) Later, I found out they thought I was just going to drop Norma off then pull away so they thought the small flame on the piling was not an issue. I noticed that flame was growing fast and called to them that I was not going to tie up there. Moving ahead of Freedom, I did see a space between them and, you won't believe it, a Fire Boat; it was unmanned. but it was a fire boat. I'm trying to dock and the Coast Guard is asking for more info, and then I notice the flashing lights of the first fire truck pull up. Two of the Freedom crew came over, and we passed the the lines and got tied in. A little while later, some three more fire trucks arrived, the blaze was consuming about half the piling and the firemen were trying to figure out how to connect a hose from the fire back to the truck or to find a fire standpipe which should have been somewhere on the dock. While all that was happening, I gave a boat card to the crew on Freedom should they need to contact me.
(Norma) Crawling in pain slowly onto the dock, I had already called a Lyft to take us to the doctor's office, and we left the dock in a rush passing by several firemen dragging long hoses down the dock to the flaming pilings. By this time, there were four police cars, more firemen dressing to aid with the fire, several traffic jams in all directions, especially with now four fire trucks on the street. How was our Lyft driver to find us amidst all this chaos?
Smartly Allen made a quick call to the Lyft driver who did a turn in the street to pick us up and take us to the medical building luckily on the same road but only three fourths of a mile away. (We could have walked had Norma not looked like a crab holding on to her lower back as she scrambled down the street and into the car.) The Lyft driver (best $8 ride I ever spent) was amazed hearing about our fleeing the dock fire, as did the medical staff who were looking out their big windows wondering what all that smoke along the water was all about. (BTW, we tipped the Lyft driver well.)
All's well that ends well. The doctor was fantastic, took x-rays which he shared with us, and his staff found my electronic charts lickedly split, examined me, laid out a plan of action and a prescription, and by 4:30 after a trip to the pharmacy, I was all set with my week's doses of prednisone. At this writing, Saturday, I can bend and actually sneeze without my spine curling up in shooting pain.
Although my blood pressure was ungodly for me, before the doctor came in, we were able to walk slowly back to the boat. All the smoke disappeared, and not a fire truck in sight, just a row of fabulous Latin/Mexican food trucks now adorning Long Wharf Drive. I wish I had a picture of the wonderful non-alcoholic pina colada ($7) from the food truck that Allen purchased to calm his nerves after taking care of the boat and me. He so deserved that fabulous drink with huge chunks of pineapple and mango and whipped cream over ice cream with sprinkles and a cherry on top. As I said, with the fire out when we got back, and meds for my back, all's well with Afterglow in New Haven's town dock.