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Travels with Charley

A tribute to our vicarious shipmate

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.

12/31/2006

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.

Charley

From the Abacos, we sailed to Eleuthera and received this response.

2/10/2007

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.

Charley

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 kept doing.

3/10/2007

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.

Charley

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, wrote:

3/24/2007

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!

Charley

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.

7/16/2007

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.

Love,
Charley

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.

8/4/2007

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,
Charley

After a new paint job and lots of other improvements, Caribbean Soul was exploring the Venezuelan islands in early 2008.

3/26/2008

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 great trips!!!

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.

Charley

Having been a boater himself, Charley commiserated with the travails of keeping our bad habit afloat.

4/4/2008

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 with you.

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.

6/4/2008

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,
Charley

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.

8/1/2008

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 morning!!!

In November, we departed Curacao and began a multi-week passage to Cartagena, Colombia. Charley had some concerns, but "we" had no problems.

11/14/2008

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 those legs!

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.

Love,
Charley

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.

5/18/2009

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 you.

Charley

Now that Charley was on his feet and back at the computer, we received lots of stories about his time in Honduras and Belize.

Guanaja

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

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 to us.

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 pretty slick!

Belize

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 had.

9/17/2009

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.

Love,
Charley

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.

10/21/2009

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 White!

Your erstwhile crew member en virtuoso,
Charley

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.

11/5/2009

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

Later…

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!

Charley

11/6/2009

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??

Itchy,
Charley

11/7/2009

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 rating.

God bless and keep!
Charley

Later…

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.

11/8/2009

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.

11/25/2009

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!

Charley, deckhand

As Caribbean Soul approached the end of her voyage, we were all feeling sentimental.

1/2/2010

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,
Charley

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 this message.

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 previous observances.

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,
Charley

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
1923-2010

We arrived in the Bahamas on Christmas Eve 2006.

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, Bahamas.

Over 300 hundred boats gathered in George Town, Bahamas.

Looking out for reefs on the Caicos Banks.

Pedestrian traffic in Luperon, Dominican Republic.

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 of Venezuela.

Pristine beach in the remote Las Aves islands, Venezuela.

Underwater paradise in Bonaire, Netherland Antilles.

Salt domes in Bonaire.

Colorful Dutch buildings in Curacao, Netherland Antilles.

Caribbean Soul anchored between the old and the new cities, Cartagena, Colombia.

Molas for sale in the San Blas islands of Panama.

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 heavy coats.

 

 

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Caribbean Soul products sold at caribbeansoul.com

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