The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-13-2019 Thread Starter
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The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

Its with great sadness to report of the passing of a stalwart Sailnet Member, John Duncker, @TQA on his boat Elephant's Child in Antigua.

John joined SailNet in 2009 and has offered his wisdom and experience to many people in his nearly 4,000 posts.

He loved cruising the Caribbean in his Bombay 44 and was known to many people in the cruising community in every island he visited.

He recently underwent hip surgery and passed away a few weeks later.

I am told by a fellow SailNet Member his passing was peaceful in his sleep onboard his beloved boat.


Vale John. May the sailing up there be even better with warm winds following and a distant shore approaching.



https://www.sailnet.com/forums/members/tqa.html
https://www.facebook.com/john.duncker.3
https://sailingonelephantschild.blogspot.com/



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post #2 of 13 Old 09-13-2019
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

Fair winds to John and may his family and friends find peace in their loss.

Did he have the hip surgery done in the Caribbean? Coincidentally, I just had some knee surgery last week, which has planted me in front of the keyboard more than usual lately. I seriously considered recuperation aboard, but decided it really wasn't wise. No way I could have gotten up and down the companionway for the first several days, but even the next several I thought it would have been much harder to properly elevate, ice, etc, etc. One of the serious post-op concerns is a blood clot forming, from the surgery itself. I'd want to be more accessible to the hospital too. Thankfully, all going well here and I may get down to the boat today. I only hope the circumstances are not causing John's family to second guess whether he was in the right place to recover. Hopefully, all are at peace that he did what he most wanted to do.


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post #3 of 13 Old 09-13-2019
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

That is sad news....I didnít know John but he was a thoughtful and helpful member of the community here. I had the impression he was a very decent guy and living the kind of life a lot of us aspire to.

My sympathies to his family and friends.
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post #4 of 13 Old 09-13-2019
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

This sort of news is sad and sobering. Great that he was retired and sailing in the wonderful Caribbean. RIP. Thanks for all your contributions here and elsewhere.

++++

We need more discussions on SN for those getting older and losing their former "mobility" and of course strength. I suffered from lower back pain which was no debilitating... more annoying. I witness my muscle strength decline so I ask for help to lift things like the OB from the car to a dock cart. I also got Millie to lift the mainsail. I can still trim as my arm strength is fine.

In fall 2016 I began to have problems walking what would be normal distances and using stairs. My back pain was worse but still more annoying that anything else. I did a year plus of epidurals which worked a charm until they stopped. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and prescribed multi level laminectomy which would decompress my spine. I underwent surgery in April 2018 hoping that I would recover enough to use the boat for half the season. Not possible. Boat remaineded on the hard all of 2018. Climbing up a ladder to get on board was almost impossible. My mobility was no better and probably worse. I was told to be patient. Turns out the surgeon damaged the right sciatic nerve. This left me with a range of symptoms... loss of control of some of my foot movement, loss of strength in my right reg, loss of balance control in my right leg... numbness in my right leg.
Fall of 2018 I decided to launch the boat and store it in water... and begin to do some projects and spend time aboard. I got help doing the bottom which I could not do alone.... that's how compromised I was. My walking was not good but I was able to get about. I was concerned about my balance. I certainly was unable to jump down from the deck to the dock!

I was very cautious getting about on the boat... and as I am sitting most of the time I can still use it pretty much as before. We've had a fine season except for the uncooperative weather. My nerve has not recovered. It is getting better but it's now 1.5 years. It may recover by next season....

I realize how important mobility, balance and strength is for sailing. On top of that my hearing stinks even with H/A. And of course now I am having Osteo and or Rheumatoid arthritis in knees and hands. Physical therapy is a weekly part of my life.

Now I am thinking if the normal needs of sailing and caring for the boat may be too much for the old me that I have become. I am sure many others are confronting these changes. The aging boat's needs don't get less... they get more. And as we age our capabilities get less not the same and certainly not more.

There are many sailors in their 60s and 70s who will face these problems.

When to let go?

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-13-2019
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

I found John to be a willing help with any problems I might need help with and he always had a friendly smile and time to chat. By the way his oh so friendly cat Dizzy has been rehomed.
As for aging aboard, I think the biggest revelation to me was when I realized that what was happening to me was that I was losing my agility. As a full time liveaboard all my adult life, these things crept up on me unannounced, probably more so than a part time sailor. The ability to hop about with ease, stand without holding on under most conditions and hop off and on the boat (to a dock) with ease were no longer just the way it was. I have to prethink every action; actions I'd been doing for over 5 decades without any worry of injury.
For years the doctors have recommended hip replacements and I have refused. The thought of having anything inside my body that would require advanced specialized medical attention should something go wrong appealed to me a lot less than the occasional pain, no matter how severe.For instance, I no longer twist from the wheel to pull in the main sheet, but rather I turn my whole body and face the task. I won't pull on a halyard or line (mooting or dock) but instead put it on a winch if the load is too great. Even little things like no longer going down the companionway backwards in a seaway. I turn and use the handholds; that's what they are there for! No more toughing it out.Think it out and maybe, just maybe, I can still be doing what I love when I'm 92.

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post #6 of 13 Old 09-13-2019
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

Mark,

Thank you for posting that. This is very sad. My sympathies go out to his family and friends.

It sounds like John lived a good life and was still planning to adventure on before getting cut short by his hip problems. Beyond the fact that John has been a long time member who has really made a contribution to SailNet. I truly enjoyed his comments over the years which represented the voice of experience and the wisdom of old school thinking tinged with real life use of modern technology.

Capta's description of John says loads about who John was, a sailor who made friends and was welcome in every port, a sailor who lived by the creep do helping a sailor in needs, and a sailor who really sailed. I personally will miss him.

RIP John

Jeff
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

Jeff,

You are learning to adjust. Itís what all of us have to do today as our own physical prowess becomes compromised by the march of time.

You and I met and talked in Northport this year. You are still incredibly passionate and do fine appearance wise physically. The most important aspect, your mind is still very sharp. That comes from continually using it...and the boat encourages that.

I to had disc surgery this last year. I recovered 95% but certainly it removed the pain which had persisted for the last 5 years. Do I approach the physical aspects of the boat differently......you bet. I certainly think more about body position. I am more likely to use things to assist.

I too am facing a total knee replacement.....November 11 for me. My knee progressively has limited me and itís time to correct that. I am hopeful this procedure increases my mobility and also helps in keeping myself more physically active and thus healthier. I also believe that this will encourage me to stay active at work and not retire . Financially I can retire, however mentally I donít want to as I have more to give in teaching/ mentoring younger managers. However that being said I am in the process of developing my exit strategy of what to do after retirement. Traveling , sailing are individual pursuits. I see the need to be integrated with other people.

You have incredible experience and travels which you share with others. Thatís something which helps us all so look at the positive side of getting older. Itís not all about the physical , and you seem to have compensated for that well.
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

I had corresponded a long with John through PM and he was quite a solid person. I never would have met him had it not been for this SN experience. He was so very open about helping others with his incredible knowledge bank. I personally will miss him.

This is exactly what I fear with my impending surgery.

John....Fair winds to you. May the sun always shine upon you and may the winds always fill your sails.
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-13-2019
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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

Weíre getting ready to fly back to Grenada recommission the boat and do the islands are harbors weíve havenít spent enough time in. On my birthday (early June ) I went septic from a leg infection so couldnít do the final chores to put the boat to sleep on the hard at Clarkeís Court. Because I was limited to bed wife needed to flip the switches to drain the fresh water tanks. She fell 10í and broke her foot in three places falling from the top of the ladder.
Next day we flew home. I got admitted to hospital. She had her fractures addressed correctly. Itís now months later. Iím finally scabbed over with minimal pain but sheís still braced (although now able to weight bear some). She was the one with better balance, fine motor and better up the mast. I was the one with better strength and technical knowledge. Weíre a good team. But now we are totally de conditioned. Thatís the saving grace of cruising. Even if you are lazy and donít like exercise just cruising forces you to be constantly doing balance exercises, use your core, do things requiring upper body strength. You donít exercise your legs much nor build endurance but if you hike or snorkel time to time you fill in that gap.
Itís rare to see a deconditioned cruiser. Think that allows many cruisers to age more gracefully.
However you can blame everything on your parents. Unfortunately genetics has a lot to do with it.

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Re: The Passing of TQA John Duncker - Elephant's Child

Going out to Shiva to meet a young fella who will help me with some boat stuff... a new thread about how to adapt old age to sailing will be / should be started.

I don't think we think about the deficits of old age and how it will impact sailing and boat ownership. We take our mobility for granted when young. Can't do that when you are old.

BBL
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Last edited by SanderO; 09-13-2019 at 08:24 PM.
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