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Sailing with Charlie: Ailments

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Health authorities have recently announced that the human race is in trouble. Apparently our present inventory of antibiotics is no longer effective against some of the most aggressive microbes. Soon, or perhaps even now, some infections may be untreatable, and unstoppable bacteria may eat into your tissue and organs until you become nothing more than a yellow, slimy blob on the cockpit or cabin sole. Isn’t it fun anticipating our future?

Fortunately this hasn’t happened yet but every conscientious skipper should prepare for all eventualities. Charlie always makes sure that a good all-round antibiotic is on board his vessel if a passage of a week or more is anticipated. An antibiotic can forestall a sudden eruption of appendicitis and enable a patient to receive treatment at the port of arrival. It can be effective on a number of other infections like pneumonia and cystitis as well. Antibiotics are essential.

But other ailments can be debilitating for a crew. Seasickness is common amongst novices. On a recent offshore passage Charlie had a crew member scrambling below half an hour into a rough nighttime watch; he’d forgotten to put on his Transderm scopolomine patch. After an hour back on deck his sickness had still not been alleviated and he was calling Ralph over the leeward side all night. A day later he discovered he had applied the patch on upside down; now he was suffering from constipation. Obviously the patch was working but on the wrong orifice.

Charlie always explains the many possible medical issues that can come up (pun intended). Constipation is fairly common especially when the going gets rough. Tension increases, muscles tighten and bowel movements become irregular or non – existent. Recently, Joshua and Paddy were Charlie’s crew on a down island delivery. The going got rough and after two days sailing to windward Josh decides to share his lack of bowel movements with the other crew members, “I haven’t had a number two in nearly three days,” he exclaimed.

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Paddy: “I read that celery helps in that department.”

Josh: “What do you mean, in a soup or something?”

Paddy: “No, no, you break off a stalk and insert it into the rectum; work it in and out a bit – you know, like a plumber’s snake. Then, hey presto, wonderful relief.

Laughter erupts but Josh seems pensive. Then, just before their arrival in Bequia, Charlie notices two celery stalks and a carrot in the waste paper basket in the aft head.

On the very first trip ashore every single vegetable aboard was bagged, binned, and taken to the dumpster.

Editor’s note: Some people are allergic to certain antibiotics and care should be taken before giving them. Celery, on the other hand …


Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

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