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I sat on the edge of the bed and I saw myself in the mirror, and it was like seeing a CGI character, like it was an image I had seen in the mirror ever in my life. And now I'm sitting here on my bed looking at this frail person that looks nothing like me. From wondering, I'm with misalign. You are listening to this is actually happening episode 179. What if a horrifying loss led to a grand adventure? Today's show is sponsored by Blue Fox Entertainment's Mazoe, the new film from Julie Delpy in Mazoe Delpy plays Isabelle, a brilliant scientist who co parents with their ex, their beloved young daughter, Zoe.
But when a sudden accident leaves Zoe near death, she realizes that there truly are no limits to a mother's love. Isabelle discovers that she will push the boundaries of science and ethics to find a way to keep Zoe alive. Begging the question How far will you go to save your child? Critics rave about the film. Indiewire says, quote, By the time the screen goes black, one final time Delpy has left enough to think about for another three acts.
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I was born in Sacramento, California, to probably a pretty middle class family when I was about seven years old, my parents moved to Portland, Oregon, and were divorced shortly thereafter. And that kind of propelled me from the middle class to somewhat poor. I was living with my mom and she started going to school to be a nurse. We were on food stamps and living in a Section eight apartment complex. My mom was really looking out for me as a kid and she wanted me to go to the best schools.
And even though we couldn't afford these neighborhoods, they had nice schools. She found a place with an apartment complex in a rich neighborhood. Because of going to that school and being from the poor neighborhood and wearing poor clothes and being on this free lunch, I was definitely an outcast because of that. They put me in the talented and gifted program. There's only like 10 kids in the school that were in this program and I was one of them, but I was also taking a spot from one of the wealthier kids.
So they were really tough on me about it. I mean, the teachers were rude. I mean, I remember a specific incident where I was sitting down eating and I like leaned over to get a bite of soup or whatever it was. A person came up to me is like as human beings, we bring the food to our face, not our face, to the food that I was just like, wow, I was like, this is my teacher.
Going through that with my mom and my sisters was an interesting thing, and I begged her to move away because I hated it there. I started kind of going down a darker path and there was a bit of crime and the police were rough on us as well, so I started turning a bit and I got arrested one night for a curfew violation. The cop roughed me up a little bit and that was 11 years old. He calls my mom, says I was arrested for curfew.
So she shows up at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning. She was working graveyard as a nurse. Takes me straight to school because there's no way I'm missing a day of school just because I spent the night in jail. I have a bruised face and bloody nose and bloody T-shirt because a police officer slammed my head in the car before he handcuffed me and arrested me. And I was just like, Mom, if you get me out of this neighborhood, I promise I'm not causing any more trouble.
I just can't be here anymore. Eventually, she did. Once I move to the other side of Portland, Oregon, I started doing really well, I played football, I play basketball, got good grades throughout school, and it really made a difference. Unfortunately, my sisters and my mom didn't fare as well with the change as I did, my mom became addicted to prescription pain medication. She had migraine headaches and going down a darker path. And my sisters did as well.
I got myself out of that. But then my sisters got into it and then my mother became addicted to pain medication. At 14 years old, I stopped going home, I started staying at friend's houses, I'd be gone for weeks at a time, but I had to put myself in a different environment. And luckily, my friend's parents just let me stay and were just incredible people. They were there for me when I really needed it the most of the time.
Once I graduate from high school, I was working as a carpet cleaner, I was a manager at a carpet cleaning store and I decided just to start my own business. I went broke immediately. I actually had my car repossessed, but within a couple of years I was actually doing quite well. I had at about 11 hotels that I cleaned a few restaurants and I did all the cruise ships for this one small cruise ship company. At that time, a friend had reached out about helping him start a carpet cleaning business in Hawaii.
I was like, sure, I sold the business. I had an Oregon moved to Hawaii and started a new life out there. The life is amazing, there's a big transient community in Hawaii, there's people that come and go seasonally being that transient community, people actually really embrace other humans quickly. There's this great community of people who are coming and going. So I felt immediately welcome and loved in Hawaii was making good money. I was able to have lots of time to go fishing and diving, you know, go for hikes.
And I had always been an outdoor person when I lived in Oregon. I started scuba diving at 19 years old and I was constantly scuba diving. And it's a place where nobody scuba dive. So moving to Hawaii was a place I could go scuba diving around. You know, the water is much more calm. That was part of the big, big reason I moved there was to be able to do all these outdoor activities year round instead of just in the summertime for a few months.
I also bought a fishing boat and was commercial fishing a little bit, and so I was able to spend a lot of time on the water. After six years in Hawaii, like I was pretty well set up there living in a nice house and I had a Mercedes and the motorcycle and everything was just going really well for me in my life. And I started traveling quite a bit. My first experience with motorcycles was at about 19 years old, one of my best friends had a motorcycle that I rode the thing probably more than he did and decided it's probably time for me to buy my own motorcycle.
Riding motorcycles feels like flying, you have this unbelievable acceleration, you glide through corners, there is roads that I would just go right on my day off.
And just because I just love the feeling of it, it's just one of the most amazing things. I've had several throughout my life, I probably had about 20 motorcycles between Oregon and Hawaii. I ended up with my favorite motorcycles being the last one with my Honda RC 50 one. So on October 17th of 2008, I worked early in the morning cleaning carpets. I went out to dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant, had just started seeing somebody I wanted to take her to my favorite restaurant, and I invited two of my best friends as well, just another couple.
So we sat down and a sang a little karaoke afterwards and just afterwards, you know, we're in the parking lot talking and the girl that I was seeing as she was saying, you know, let's go back to your place, go back to my place. I was like, you know, not tonight. I was meeting with another friend the next morning. And I was like, you know, I'm just going to go home and I'm supposed to meet somebody else tomorrow.
And I left. On the ride home, it was just a beautiful, starry night. I was resting on the tank, so I leaned forward on the motorcycle. I had my feet up on the back seat, just kind of cruising. And, you know, there were times I ride my motorcycle like a complete maniac, but always, like on my way home, I would drive really sensibly. Coming up towards Wikler Road Truckers, Chevy Silverado swerved towards me in my own lane, I banged hard to avoid the truck and the next thing I remember is being on the side of the road.
When I woke up, it felt like I woke up in my bed, I had my helmet on still, and I was like, why did I wear my helmet to bed? I'm like, I was like, wait, I wasn't drinking as like, why? Why do I feel this way? I try to take my helmet off. And when I reached over to see why my left hand wasn't helping me take my helmet off, I grabbed this cold, wet, bloody stump.
I felt my arm as if it was there, so I couldn't figure out why what I felt was different than what I felt with my right hand, and then it all flashback. I remember the truck coming at me and I was like, oh, my gosh, the truck, it hit me. I realized that my arm was missing and my leg was damaged. My first immediate thought was I have to get out of the road. So I pushed myself out of the road with my one hand and leg that was still operational.
And I had realized that I couldn't stand up. I looked around, there was nobody there. I screamed for help a few times. I eventually get my helmet off and I grab my cell phone out of my pocket. I dialed nine one one. And just before hitting send, you know, I thought about it. As I my arms are gone, I couldn't stand you and I tried to get myself out of the road and I'm not in a lot of pain right now.
So do I want to make this call? I spent about two years as a search and rescue diver in Oregon and about a year and a half as a volunteer firefighter. I realized what I was in for, I mean, whether or not I survived this accident, the recovery process of losing an arm and a leg and nearly your life. I have a recovery that's going to potentially take decades. And then also how people would perceive me. I was always an athlete and waterman and the things that I define myself as, we're potentially suddenly gone.
Having that realization made me question whether or not I wanted to save my own life. Is this a choice I want to make at this moment or do I just want to stay here until it's over? Well, obviously, I'm talking to you now, so I called nine one one, I told them where I was and what had happened. I tried to give them as much information as I thought they needed to know because I was almost certain that I was going to lose consciousness.
So I told them my blood type. I told them I had health insurance. I told them to send a helicopter. This is all things you guys need to know before I pass out. By then, the person who had hit me had walked up, he was denying being the person that hit me. It wasn't me. It wasn't me. And, you know, immediately I thought maybe, you know, he's obviously lying, but he was incredibly drunk.
He blew a point to wait. So he was so drunk, there's a chance he probably doesn't remember hitting me. The fire department showed up in about six minutes and was in the ambulance just kind of waiting. Finally, I'm like, hey, guys, you know, I'm starting to not feel so great coming out of shock, I'm starting to feel pain. I was like, so OK, if we get a move on and they're like, well, we're looking for your arm.
It's our policy to send you with all your parts. I was like, you know, it's like I can we just go like I don't feel like. It was about a 20 minute drive to the hospital and I still don't remember their faces. It's weird for some reason, whatever part of the brain that processes vision had shut down. I don't remember seeing my severed limb. I don't remember seeing anybody's faces. I remember all the conversations that we had.
I had remembered my nine on one call verbatim, but I didn't remember seeing certain things that part of my brain just completely shut down. After the drive to the hospital, the girl was seen for dinner that night, she was riding with my two other friends. They immediately U-turn go to the hospital. So shortly after getting in the hospital, I had a bunch of friends there. They did a CT scan and they said they have aspirated a vomited into my lungs.
They say it was a 50 50 survival rate at a punctured left lung. After I talk to my mom, my dad, my grandpa, they gave me the option to whether to go into surgery or not. They said it's unlikely that you would survive the anesthesia. Do you really want to go in for this or do you want to just stay your last few minutes with your friends? And I was like, hey, guys, I made this decision earlier when I called you, like I had a nice place picked out on the side of the road.
And I was like, no, I'm going to live. Just before they wheeled me in to put me under, I had a tongue piercing at the time, they're taking the tongue piercing out and the girl I was seeing start sobbing. And it's like, I got to say something. I was like, you know, I'm sorry. Like, you're not going to get any tonight. I was looking back, I was like, oh, my gosh, like, had I died, those would have been my last words.
Once they put me under, my next memory is waking up in the hospital in O'ahu. While I was under, they had opened me up and down an exploratory surgery and I had a punctured spleen, punctured lung, four broken ribs, a broken scapula, I vomited into my lungs, my stomach came through, my diaphragm was in my chest cavity, and I had lost most of my blood. They gave me 11 units of blood at the time, which is like more than a complete change.
And this all happened while I was asleep and I was flown to Oahu in Oahu. The doctor had made the decision to amputate my foot. I'm still intubated, I'm not I can't speak to anybody and I'm seeing the look on people's faces and the person that I went to dinner with there, this cue card they give you, you get point like I have to go to the bathroom or I'm hungry. And then there is like these letters where you could spell things out.
I spelled out like my arm and she just shakes her head. No. And I spell out my leg and she starts crying. Seen the look on her face when I said my foot, I was to say, Oh, this is real. You know, I I'm in this fight now, you know, I didn't know exactly what it would be like, but I knew that I now have to own up to this decision to make the nine one one call and then that moment, it's like my life has changed.
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One of the first things they did is they put my dad on the phone and this is a one way conversation because it's like I can't speak back. So he probably talked for about 20 minutes of how proud he was and strength and overcoming adversity. And I could hear his voice getting shakier and shakier at the moment. And I could tell he was crying on the other side of the phone. So after this long conversation, this one sided conversation I typed out on that little cue card.
Don't worry, Pop, it's just a scratch. But at the time, it was about 40 hours of my life being in question. I was in the hospital for 10 days and then seven days in a rehab facility and I had this incredible support group, I just had this overwhelming amount of people in the hospital with me. The entire time I was in the hospital, I had never really taking it at all in the most painful aspect of the entire thing was I had a broken scapula and there was no way I could lay down and be comfortable.
I was in constant pain. I had gotten pneumonia. So I was getting fevers and sweating out my sheets and shivering in pain with this broken scapula. And it was awful at times. Eventually, I start getting stronger. I had no secondary infections, I was recovering well, and after just 10 days in the hospital, they moved me to a rehab facility, an inpatient rehab facility. The person I had dinner with became my girlfriend. And as much as I tried to push her away because I had only seen her for a couple of weeks, I was like, no, you don't have to deal with this.
And I was really forceful about that. But she didn't want to go and was an amazing person. And the rehab facility, I'm suddenly on this for people who have had these like long term injuries, spinal damage, injuries, and the person that they put me in the room with couldn't control his spouse. He couldn't speak. He didn't have any friends or family there. And immediately I still I like I had no chance to even feel sorry for myself, like I still wasn't processing what had happened to me.
I was just so focused on continuing to keep going that, you know, I never had that moment of loss. And now I'm suddenly in this floor of people who will never recover from their injuries or most of them will never recover from the injuries. My new girlfriend said that she worked really hard to learn to change my bandages because I still had open wounds at the time and because of her, they were comfortable enough sending me home. And so after about seven days in the rehab facility, I was actually able to go home.
Arriving back in Kona, I flew in and was in a wheelchair and got home and I had about two days with a girlfriend in the house that were really nice, but eventually she had to go back to work as well. And it was my first time being alone in like 20 days, and I sat on the edge of the bed and I saw myself in the mirror. I've always had a large build and I have always been athletic. I had lost about 20 pounds and I was frail and my arm and leg were missing.
And it was like seeing a CGI character, like it was an image I had seen in the mirror ever in my life. And now I'm sitting here on my bed looking at this frail person that looks nothing like me. And I cried. It's like, holy crap, it's like this is me now. I think at that point, just seeing the image in the mirror, I just started to accept and I actually focused on what I had lost and it would almost be like a sense of mourning.
After that moment, looking in the mirror, it was probably like another three or four days before my first outpatient rehab, having that was a sense of purpose. Mostly, it was just going to the post office every day, and as simple as that sounds, you know, I try to come up with some sort of routine. But right after your limbs amputated, the part that your prosthetic fits on will start to atrophy because it's no longer pushing your foot anymore, you'll be able to walk really well for a week or two or a month and then suddenly be in a wheelchair again for two or three months.
My left arm, I still feel it as if it's there. It kind of feels like a T rex are still a bit shorter and it's like kind of in a claw and it kind of never changes from that position. I can move it slightly in my head and it hurts like there's a constant pain. It ranges from probably like a six to 10 on the pain scale. It always feels like I just hit my funny bone. So I have this pins and needles feeling in my entire left arm that isn't there.
Probably one of the most difficult things I've experienced through this is trying to sleep at night because trying to do that, trying to lay down, trying to get comfortable and even with the mindset, because if I'm laying on my stomach, it feels like my arm is going through the bed. And that feels weird. It just doesn't feel right. And it's hard to sleep. And so sleeping was a real problem for quite a while. Alcoholism came into play.
I was very sensitive to the prescription pain medication because my mom was addicted to prescription pain medication and so I had kicked the pain drugs and I was just going to suffer through the pain and I wasn't going to be addicted. This stuff. There was so much going on in my head at the moment. Like I had all these feelings and I had anger towards a person that hit me in this compassion towards the people that were helping me. And for the most part, I just dealt with it.
I would just like not sleep. But every once in a while, you know, I'd have a few drinks and suddenly the pain is gone and have a few more drinks and actually go to sleep well. And so there was a bit of a self medicating period as well. My bills are coming due, but I wasn't making the money I was making was still working, and because the accident wasn't my fault, my insurance company decided it wasn't their responsibility to pay.
But the person who hit me is responsibility to pay. So the person that hit me had the twenty five thousand dollar policy on his truck, so his policy paid the twenty five thousand dollars plus the cost of my motorcycle. My personal insurance on my motorcycle covered the underinsured motorist, which is forty thousand dollars.
And so there's all these little loopholes in the insurance made it so nobody was really paying a significant amount. So when everything was said and done, I ended up being like four hundred and forty thousand dollars in debt with my own insurance company. Blue Cross decided that they'll just put a four hundred and forty thousand dollars lean on me and let the bankruptcy courts decide whether or not there's any money there. My former business partner had said that they would take care of me.
He didn't, and my relationship started to suffer with my girlfriend as well. So they had a benefit concert for me in this bar and Kona, like I didn't go to it because I was still not in good enough shape to spend a night out. And so after maybe a month of being at home and not going anywhere and being slightly embarrassed that I was in a wheelchair, I went out for a drink with friends and I went to the bar and that had the same benefit concert for me.
So my first night out in Kona, someone came up and said, you need to be careful, the person that hit you is a copson. If you try to retaliate and sue, the police are going to come after you and they're going to make you leave Hawaii. I dismissed it right away, like I just went back about my business, went back to my drink and someone was like, what did he say to you? And I told him he was like, that's an off duty cop.
And that was really an off duty cop, just came to a person in a wheelchair and threatened them, that if I do anything about it, they're going to make me leave my home. So much anger and so much helplessness. I never did see the guy, but two weeks after my accident, he actually went out and got another DUI. He didn't even, like, stop drinking and driving. He was sentenced to five years in jail for felony negligent injury, but reading through the charges, there was actually a section that he has to lose his license for a minimum amount of time and he has to apologize to me.
Reading this, I was like, I have to prepare myself for having this conversation with this person. And so as I go, I'm going to prepare myself to forgive this person that took my arm and my leg, but he never called. And I wonder if he cares. Like, I wonder if he just sees me as some random person that he nearly killed but doesn't care. So my girlfriend had found this procedure that fuses her tibia and fibula together, grabbed some muscle tissue around the whole thing, and it makes you more comfortable for prosthetics.
It was about a three month recovery time, and within the first week of being on a prosthetic, I was struck on a prosthetic than I ever was in the previous three years. I had gone through a couple of years of just like everything being against me, this horrible bankruptcy, like I had half a million dollars in debt to my insurance company. I was eighty thousand dollars in debt to the IRS because I didn't file my taxes of the year, my accident, everything was negative.
And suddenly I had done my bankruptcy. I did an offer in compromise with the IRS, was able to pay that back. And I remember the day I walked in the post office to drop off that last check. And the people of this local post office had seen my dad come in to pick up my mail was still in the hospital. They'd see me wheeling in with my wheelchair. They'd see me like walking again. And then they saw me come in this one day and I had tears in my eyes.
I was just like, oh, my God, I'm finally clear this friggin and finally debt free, like I'm at zero. Like, I was so happy to be at zero. At that time, where after I started feeling better, I was able to walk better, I started trying to clean carpets again, I started trying to go fishing again, start going for hikes with friends. You know, it went from three years of just trying to survive to, OK, I'm ready to actually do something with my life again, and after that, it's like, what do I do now?
Randomly, I'd come across this website of people who had sailed across the world by themselves and set a record, and I was like, you know, there's no double amputee on this list. I bet I could do that. I never really sailed before and I was like, I have to just do something like, I can't just struggle the rest of my life trying to get back to, like, poverty. So that was it, I was just like, OK, I'm going to go sail around the world by myself.
And the record I wanted was to be the first double amputee to solo circumnavigate the globe. I told my girlfriend about it in which she wasn't too thrilled about because it was also sailing around the world by myself, we'd gone through this struggle together and she was this amazing person, is this amazing person. And I'm so thankful for her. But I had to be by myself for a while. I went from being this individual person to having this accident to suddenly living with somebody and then having these three years of struggle.
But there was something that was just like, I need to refine my own identity. And I didn't feel like I could do that with her. It was super unfair to her and so I was still pushing her away even from the beginning of the accident. There was something that I felt that I had to get back to being alone for a while, like I wasn't comfortable having a partner at that time.
So after this idea to go sail around the world by myself, I had a Craigslist obsession of looking for boats.
Eventually, I found nineteen sixty eight, Uhlberg, thirty five foot. The owner had just sailed around the world by himself. I reached out and said, hey, if I buy the boat, will you teach me to say, Oh, you teach me what I should know and blah, blah, blah? And he said, yeah. So buying the boat from him, even though it wasn't probably the best boat for me, it was the best situation for me.
And he gave me the confidence I needed to actually do what I wanted to do. I was watching YouTube videos and reading books on how to sail. I got the boat fixed up, so I spent about a year working on it. My roommate at the time decided to come sailing with me and we kind of learned to sail together with one month trip around Hawaii. And once we got back to the Big Island, like there's a few more things I wanted to fix up on the boat and then get ready to go.
I had this community that had taken such good care of me during, like one of the most tragic things that could happen to a person, and there was this question going through my head like, what the heck am I doing? Like, the scariest part was leaving these people that had helped me through the end of the most tragic part of my life. My last night in Kona, my friends were there. We all had dinner next to the boat and there's a bunch of teary goodbyes.
And suddenly I was there by myself and I had never untied from a dock by myself before. And so I had to, like, untie the boat, push off from the dock and go to sea by myself for the first time. I got out of the harbor, I was making my way down the coast, and there was no way for me to contact the outside world once I left. And so I stayed pretty close to the coast all the way down to South Point.
And I was talking to friends and family and I knew know was potentially going to be months before I could actually really have communication again. Just as I approach the south point of the island, I was on the phone with a friend and a squall hit, which is a kind of slow, localized storm, but I had to go out and reduce the sails and suddenly, like, I get back to the cockpit and I take the harness off.
And I had no cell phone coverage as I guess this is it. Time to go. And next stop is Palmeiro, which is about 10 days away. Palmyra is still one of the most amazing places I've ever visited, the wildlife was absolutely incredible. There is tons of nesting baby birds and turns and the diving was spectacular, the sharks and the Bompard parrotfish. And it was just like this unbelievable place. So it was like a one week trip from Pariah to Fanning, which I had no Internet, so I wasn't able to check weather and then I had to pull anchor from Fanning and go straight to American Samoa.
And I actually got hit by a storm like a day and a half from American Samoa. And now, like, I would have recognized the conditions, but I didn't have the experience then, nor did I have weather prediction on the boat. So eventually I just got blasted by the storm and I spent like a day and a half dealing with it. The decks seem on the boat had split, so I started taking on a lot of water, so I get out of bed and I put my feet down and I'm ankle deep in water in the boat and I freak out.
I'm just like, oh, my gosh, I'm sinking. And I started looking around the boat and I found where the decks had split. And I was like, OK, well, it's not catastrophic, but I have to figure out a way to get the water down into the bilge. So I actually drilled holes in the floor of my boat so it would drain. After it calmed down, I was able to sail back and come into the harbor.
I've heard sailing described a lot like how people describe or they say that there's moments of terror followed by months of boredom. And in my experience, I would say five percent of the time is scary, 90 percent of the time is boring and the rest of it's just slightly uncomfortable. But part of that's nice, too, where you read a book every day or two. And I think that anyone, if they spent 10 days at sea by themselves, would like look at life in a completely different way.
They would be like, OK, this is toxic for my life. This isn't toxic. These are my friends. These aren't my friends. And I think sometimes just taking a bit of time to yourself to reflect on these things is really important. And it's something that I've actually really started to enjoy about sailing. I enjoy that time and I feel that it's healthy for me. And I seem to have about a 10 day window where I actually really enjoy it, like after that I start to go a bit crazy and really want to get off the boat.
Hello, this is Keith Morrison from Dateline NBC.
You're about to hear a preview of the first episode from Dateline's newest podcast, Momi Doomsday, a story that has to be heard to be believed.
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There was not one other sailboat when I was in Palmyra or Fanning Island, and so it wasn't until leaving American Samoa and sailing to Norway, top of TOPA, that I met other sailors and actually started to become part of the community. I have this little ceremony, whenever I do an international trip, I'll check in, I'll get back to the boat and I'll pour myself a glass of single malt scotch and I'll have my drink and just kind of, you know, enjoy the finishing of a passage.
And as I was sitting there having my single malt scotch, this beautiful big catamaran came and anchored right next to me, which was a three million dollar boat. And immediately they drop anchor dinghies over to my boat. I'm like, oh, yeah, are you here by yourself? I said, Yeah, how about you come over to our boat for drinks and dinner? And I was like, Yeah, sure. Like, what should I bring?
I don't bring anything. Just come over. I remember thinking before going over there, I'm on this ten thousand dollar sailboat. If I parked my ten thousand dollar sailboat in front of a three million dollar mansion, the chances of them coming out, inviting me in for dinner would be pretty slim. It was like this. There was like the social equalizer of just people that had been to see. And he recognized us by myself as well. So I came over for dinner and we just had this amazing conversation and drinks and dinner and and it was my first sailing friend that I made, and I'm still really good friends with them now.
From that point forward, I started to become part of the sailing community. Things start getting a bit easier, and when the transmission went out on my boat, somebody else offered me a delivery job to deliver their boat from Fiji to New Zealand. And it was really from that point forward, I actually started gaining some momentum sailing around the world. There's a magical experience, the sailing up to a remote Pacific island by yourself missing an arm and a leg.
I've gotten this amazing response where I show up to a Pacific island and get this incredibly warm welcome from the villagers, most of these islands don't have medical facilities. They don't have antibiotics. Nobody would ever live through an injury as catastrophic as my. And so they're seeing somebody that, you know, they don't even deem as possible. Not only am I showing up missing arm and leg on a prosthetic device, I'm also sailing by myself. One of my favorite places was in a pair of para.
It's in the northern Vanuatu islands. And I showed up at the chief of the island was like he it's usually the children. They follow the yacht people because they have lollies on them. But I think with you it's going to be just because it's you. And so I was able to go hiking with the kids during the day and I go spear fishing with people at night. I actually had all the kids over for movie night one night, and there's no electricity on the island.
They don't have TVs or anything. I didn't really have kids movies on board, so I played The Avengers. And so I had like these 10 island kids on the boat watching The Avengers. The next day when I went to the island, like all the kids had nightmares about the green monster. And I was like, oh, it's like I didn't think that the Hulk would be like the most traumatizing thing. So I felt a bit guilty about that.
I think the toughest thing about sailing alone is especially missing an arm and a leg is time. All of it takes longer, like if you cruise from one place to another with another sailboat, you know, the anchor and the wife's cooking dinner and making drinks and whatever while the husband's putting the sails down to cover on. And I'm doing all those things by myself with one hand doing anything overhead where I can't use my teeth or my toes. I seem to always find a way, but everything takes longer.
After doing the deliveries from Fiji to New Zealand, then New Zealand to Australia. I came back to Fiji with a bit of money in my pocket and was able to fix up the transmission on the boat and do a few other projects. So when I left Fiji, the boat was in like the best shape that it had been. But shortly in Vanuatu, the transmission went out again and I ended up sailing through Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and into Australia with no engine and getting into Bali.
The boat had been like from Fiji all the way to Bali. It was atrophying and I kept trying to get the engine fixed and working and it just it just kept going out on me. And the boat was in the worst shape since the beginning of my trip. And it was the most difficult trip that I've had so far was from Bali to the Mentawai. About a week and a half, I was going backwards with the current against me and no, when the boat, it actually turned into a fish aggregation device, like I was moving slow enough that all these fish were being attracted in the boat.
So like once or twice a day, the dolphins would come by and pick off fish and the mahimahi would come by. And then one morning at this point, I had a satellite communication device and my friend that was checking my mail said that my disability insurance is suing me because they found my Facebook and said that since I've been out of the US for more than six months, they're canceling my policy and I owe them like three thousand dollars. I was just in this horrendous mood and I made breakfast and coffee and I look back over and a whale shark swam to my boat and I had never seen one before.
And even after living in Hawaii for 10 years, I was like, it's something I've been wanting to see my whole life. And suddenly there's one in the middle of the ocean, like right in the darkest day of my whole trip. I rarely leave my boat at sea because for whatever reason, I can't climb on the boat, like if the ladder broke or I got a cramp or whatever it is, like for some reason I can't get on the boat.
I'm dead. And so I almost never do it, but then I was in the water so fast, I forgot to put my mask on. He would swing by and I would like kind of I'd hold onto his dorsal fin or pectoral fin and he took me away and once I got far enough from the boat where I was uncomfortable, I would let go and swim back to the boat. Then he would come back and take me for another pass.
And if I did this, you know, five or six times and just had this kind of moment together, swimming with this whale shark. It was like somebody sent an angel to me, like it was just this amazing thing that, like really in the darkest day of my entire trip, one of the animals I've wanted to see my whole life just happened to swim to the boat. It changed my outlook completely at that moment. So, yeah, at that point, I eventually was able to sail into the Mentawai, which is off of western Sumatra in Indonesia, which is the very westernmost part of Indonesia.
I spent two months making my way up from Indonesia into Malaysia. Where my dad lives is only about 100 miles from where I landed in Malaysia, so I was looking forward to having a break. And when I got to Thailand, you know, I was able to sail with my friend up to Thailand and meet up with my dad.
And the boat was in bad shape. It was taking on water. I had to haul it out and I had zero money and I wasn't ready for it.
Like I wasn't ready to commit to finishing my trip around the world, taking so long to get there. And it was a lot harder than I thought, mostly because of the boat work. My girlfriend at the time that was there convinced me to do a go fund me in the crowd funding. She's like, reach out to people like your stories. Awesome, like you'll get help. And I did it. Go find me. And within, like, a week, it was like up to like ten thousand dollars.
So since things started moving forward, but with that was also this sense of pressure that I now have to finish my trip right after this really long, hard time, like I really just wanted some time off of it. So suddenly I start being like, oh, OK, I could fix the engine, I could fix a transmission, and next thing I was like 14 fifteen thousand dollars. I was like, oh, I could get the rigging done.
And the person who was going to do the work was like, you know, it's like it's not worth it. He said you could put twenty thousand dollars into this, but it's still a ten thousand dollars boat. He says there's this other one right over here that the owner is really keen to sell. So he says if you come up with 20 grand by this day, the boat's yours. And so everything just kind of worked out in this really short period of time.
Most of the problems I had were boat oriented, it wasn't because I was missing an arm and a leg, it wasn't because of difficulty. Sailing was because the boat was constantly breaking down. And now I'm on this amazing boat that everything has been easier since. I was able to spend about a year in Thailand and Malaysia, I was able to take my dad for a few laps to Malaysia and back. And then when I left Thailand, like I had this really amazing trip to the Andaman Islands and then to Sri Lanka.
Getting to a country, walking up and renting a scooter, missing an arm and a leg. People look at you funny, but I still enjoy the feeling like I still enjoy just experiencing the landscape and the people in. Writing for Sri Lanka's all my favorite things, I had a scooter for four months in Sri Lanka and traveling through the countryside and people would stop me and bring me into their houses for tea. And they were so curious how this one arm, one legged guy, is like riding through the countryside on a scooter.
I absolutely love the country. The troops in the Indian Ocean were all really difficult sailing wise, but luckily the boat always handled well and I was able to keep a really good pace. So, I mean, I spent four months in Sri Lanka, one month in Chagos, four months in Madagascar, a couple of weeks in Mozambique, and then like four months in South Africa. And I was able to just keep moving at that pace. South Africa was the first place that I actually started getting some recognition, I started meeting people that were following my social media and I had a friend reach out to me about sailing to Antarctica with them.
And so I was able to leave my boat there for free, fly to Chile and sail to Antarctica and back. Once I got back to South Africa, almost every Marine I stopped out along the way sponsored my trip. Most people knew who I was. And the Ocean Cruising Club gave me the seamanship award that year. And like everyone that had received this award before me were all really amazing sailors with amazing backgrounds. And and I was like, wow, I'm actually part of this club.
It was humbling. I just got this feeling that, like I actually like I'm living my dream, like it just came out of nowhere, that suddenly I'm like, wow, it's like I didn't anticipate any of this. Every time I leave somewhere like I've made all these connections with people and then I leave and there's a hangover about it, you make these connections, but there's still this kind of underlying urgency to keep going on my own trip and I keep doing it.
You know, I had been on this trip by myself for five years, I was ready to get back to the Pacific and head home, and when covid hit, covid shut everything down and suddenly, like, I'm stuck again, like every country in the Caribbean shut down at that point. And there was someone who reached out to me about fixing up my sailboat for me, know my sailboat was built in Bristol, Rhode Island. And he had said, if I sail back up to Bristol, they'll fix up the boat for free.
And so really, my only option was to sail back to the US and I did. And that's how I'm here, just north of Bristol, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod. So leaving New England, I would love to be able to stop in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Jamaica, Colombia and Panama go through the canal and then to the Galapagos, French Polynesia and back to Hawaii. So after I'm finished with my solo circumnavigation, I'd like to work on other projects if I could actually work on research vessels or plastic cleanup or hurricane relief or anything like that.
I would love to skipper on a boat like that, but it would be nice if I could actually give back a little bit. And if I get any more notoriety for sailing around the world by myself, I'd like to be able to use that in a positive way to help other projects that I care about. Anyone that's gone through like a serious tragedy experiences life a little bit differently. This might sound cliche, but I've learned to be closer to people that are important in my life and I've become more emotional.
I think I have higher highs and lower lows than what I ever had before. And I feel like I had a little bit more of a surface life before. And experiencing this vulnerability of needing people's help is sometimes humbling, as it could be humiliating. You have these people that simply take care of you because they love you and it's hard to describe the emotions that come with that, and especially if it's a stranger. And so many people have done that over the last six years and so many people have donated to my crowdfunding while I'm not great except in these things, and it's hard for me to accept these things, there's no way that I could ever repay it.
There's no way that I could ever give back everything that's been given to me this time. Yet I hope that there's a time where I could pass something like this on to somebody else. I've definitely used a lot of profanities between the beginning and now, there's so many things that are so difficult with one hand, but I've definitely learned a lot of patience under extreme protest because I would prefer not to be this patient. But I like myself better as a person now.
I never dislike myself, like I never had a poor self-esteem or self-image, but I've become a stronger person and I've also become a more vulnerable person because of this. The fortieth year of my life was probably the most interesting between the ages of 40 and forty one, I went to Chagos, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Chile, Antarctica, back, say Harlina and Ascencion, where I turned 40 when I did the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn during that time, which are both like some of the biggest sailing feats there are.
I got the seamanship award that year. I had reached this incredible high point that would have never happened had that guy not hit me. I might have a high point in another way, but I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. Shortly after the accident, when my dad met me in the hospital, he was really angry. He obviously wanted to retaliate in some way against this person that hit me. And I remember telling them that, you know, Dad is like, I'll never know if this is going to be a positive or negative thing in my life.
Now, I couldn't actually imagine my life being better, like I have more opportunities now than I've ever had, and even if that person didn't reach out and apologize to me for hitting me, I could still possibly thank him for changing my life in this way and me becoming this better person. Today's episode featured Dustin Reynolds since this interview, Dustin has made it down to Columbia and is planning on heading to Panama, Galapagos and Polynesia before returning to Hawaii to find out more about Dustin, see pictures, follow his journey or donate to help him complete the voyage.
Go to the singlehanded sailor dot com. You can find links in the show, notes for his Petrea and go find me pages. And you can also follow him on Instagram and Facebook at the single handed sailor. From London. You're listening to this is actually happening, if you love what we do, please rate and review the show. You can subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now. You can also join hundred plus in the one three app to listen ad free.
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Hello, this is Keith Morrison from Dateline NBC. You're about to hear a preview of the first episode from Dateline's newest podcast, Momi Doomsday, a story that has to be heard to be believed.
This story is about a woman, about people around her dropping like flies, it's about a fringe religious group, it's about the end of the world and zombies. It's about lazy beaches and kōichi, the desert of Arizona, a frostbitten pet cemetery at a six month search for two missing children. This is Dateline, NBC's newest podcast, Mommy Doomsday. Seven year old Joshua Jayjay Valo and 17 year old Tirelli Wriedt missing since September. Well, this is a bizarre mystery that involves a series of deaths, doomsday preppers and now at the center of everything to children that have gone missing, the basics seem to be preparing for the end.
It was made known to her by the Lord that her family would not make it because of the tribulations that were going to come. It's one of the most unusual situations I'd ever heard of in my career in law enforcement. She would say things like, Well, Chad and I's mission to get rid of the zombies came to Nicole's iMac is sorting through this tangled web.
Thank you for listening. Search for mommy doomsday wherever you're listening now to hear the first two episodes and subscribe.