Monday, September 14, 2015

Illness At Sea

South Burlington, VT

That's how I feel today.  First Jen got it.  Then Jen's assistant, Allie got it. Now me.  I hope that Libby escapes it.  The bug seems to last 72 hours.

How would we handle illness at sea?   Sea sickness is the most likely problem, but other sicknesses and injuries are always possible.  

It has happened before.  On our first year cruising, Libby got seasick.  I remained at the helm 24 hours without a break.  I got really dopey, and we were lucky to make it ashore without an accident.  Ever since then, I've been much more conservative in planning offshore passages.  I perceive that scenario as the #1 risk that could cause injury or death.

What else could we do?  There are three obvious remedies.

  • Bring additional crewmen.  We have done that in the past precisely because of the sickness risk.  But we didn't like it much having non-family aboard.
  • Abandon the requirement of keeping a 24 hour watch.  Not only does that violate the law, but it could be really stupid with coastal sailing.  Think of Frying Pan Shoals for example.  Out at sea, and far from shipping lanes no-watch might be considered.  Single-handed circumnavigators do it all the time.  I say, that is not a viable solution for the types of cruising Libby and I do.
  • Heave to and wait it out.   I'm ashamed to say that we have never practiced heaving to with Tarwathie at sea in different conditions.  That makes us unqualified to make that maneuver.
Anyhow, we are not getting younger.   This particular risk weighs on my mind all the time when anticipating blue water passages.  I'm afraid that the result is that I narrow our envelope with every passing year.   I might be willing to risk my own neck, but I love Libby too much to risk hers.

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