Difference between revisions of "The Bite That Caused a Shipwreck on Isle Tortuga"

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Latest revision as of 01:47, 11 November 2019

I left Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela with a heading of 355 degrees with 15-18 knots of wind through the north-northeast. The day was sunny and hazy as usual with 3 to 5 foot seas, also as usual. Most sailors would agree why these are perfect conditions to let all sails fly and relish the ride. I unfurled the main, mizzen, genoa, staysail, and lastly the mule, in that order. I dropped the swing keel increasing my draft from 6.5ft to 13.5ft. What a great moment, something a landlubber could never appreciate fully... yet, I cannot help but believe that something wasn't right.
It was among those strange feelings that something dramatic involved to occur. What was wrong? I had checked everything at Palomar while at Isle Margareta and took on stores for a few months. The problem is that on the ocean those feelings that some call premonitions, could mean anything. Hitting a lost shipping container, an uncharted reef, a whale, or even blowing a sail or losing an auto on the lee shore are just some possibilities. It could mean a tragedy happened on land to a friend or beloved. The possibilities spun through my head faster than a Category 5 hurricane. Nothing... I needed to be handled by one of my underground community CD's, have a drink of underground community wine, and fire up certainly one of my blackmarket Cuban cigars.
All was going well at this time, and what a site my ketch should have been from shore while using bellies of five sails budging in the white capped blue water as she cut her way over the horizon. I wanted to be ashore, only briefly mind you, to accept the picture that I had painted over the internet.
I started furling sail and lifting keel when I could see the waves breaking for the reefs, as well as the small fishing huts began to enter into focus through my glasses. Now about 3nm out, I put a reef in the primary, finding myself no hurry and hang my preventer (a line coupled to the boom and secured on deck to avoid a dreadful headache plus an accidental jibe) on because backing wind was hitting me about the aft, port quarter once tacked over...
I won't ever forget my childhood jibe and boom instructions. "Get a line on that boom and wench her out." "Don't have to have a wind shift plus a jibe to destroy me damn boom you little dumb-ass," my grandmother used to say! This was shortly before she snuck up behind me, striking me inside head using a 5lb. wench handle to show exactly what a boom towards the skull would think that. When my vision returned and I was able to crawl on all fours, I could appreciate her concerns regarding my safety. Perhaps numerous head injuries are what sparked my passion for medicine along with the sea.
Entering a calm bay after standing on choppy, beam seas is similar to driving your truck from a furrowed corn field and hitting smooth pavement. This didn't happen, or I didn't notice it as I soon discovered what my premonition was ready.
Off my starboard bow was a medium sized, white sloop heeled over near a lee shore. There were several pirogues (fishing boats) around with lines attached on deck attempting to keep this boat off of the reefs and free it.
Latin American fisherman are extremely hard working and in most cases helpful, but they often lack organization. It would not have surprised me should they were all pulling this boat in five different directions immediately trying to demonstrate that there way was the way in which! A big debate usually ensues if you have no progress being made, then it is time for attracting opposite, but different directions. Only whenever they have instruction, or it is time for cena (supper) do they really accept pull in one direction.
Having been in a similar situation in Samoa, I hailed the skipper around the VHF. A panting, dyspenic individual got on the mike. "Unidentified sailing ketch (me, forgot to spot myself), this really is SV Isabella, requesting assistance." "Do you copy?" "Copy." "SV Isabella this is SV Windshear... is anyone injured aboard?" "Negative." More details over radio asked and received... "SV Isabella can I claim that the pirogue using the two 80hp Yamahas attach a line to your main halyard, open the throttle, and heel you over to pull you away from the bottom?"... The reason for all of the confusion became clear. "No hablo espanol mate" cracked about the radio. "Put the captain on the horn which has the twin motors," I replied. I gave instructions for the skip in Spanish and within hours the boat was free. There would ordinarily have been cervezas all around been there not been for that rolled up, fly covered blue tarp on the bow.
I could only guess at all the possible ways that boat ended up grounded with a lee shore. As it proved the rusted Chinese anchor chain had snapped a link along with the back anchor can't be deployed. "Why could you not set the 2nd anchor or motor out?" I inquired. " Natural malaria treatment and I were preparing lunch inside the galley and thought all was well as our competent 45 yr old Trinidadian hand was on deck." he replied. "Did he not notice the drift and take proper land bearings?" " Effective malaria treatment . He was very competent up until time we ran aground and found him dead around the bow" "What?" "Yes, we found him lying within the windlass with both hands for the anchor chain just as if he were trying one further time for you to obtain it onboard, attach another anchor, and save us."
Interesting, I thought... How could an apparently healthy, middle-aged deck hand die so suddenly? Or could it have been suddenly? The health background always tells the storyplot to trained ears.
I asked, "Did your mate seem sick at all just before this?" The Isabella captain said, "Upon leaving Tobago we realized that he was doing less work and talking less. He wanted being alone it seemed. By some time we have towards the Testigos he was complaining of severe muscle cramps and pain." Natural malaria pills asked the most obvious naturally, "Did he possess a headache, neck, and low back pain?" "Yes... i was afraid that they were built with a brain infection along with his temperature of 104F, but it soon came down with Tylenol." "We were also concerned about pneumonia as his coughing got worse and his spit had blood inside it."
It was clear until this couple was scared and questioned their unique actions and health. "He always experimented with work tirelessly irregardless of how weak and horrible he felt." "As things deteriorated we tried to raise anyone on our feeble SSB, but there were no reply." "We were afraid that we were all likely to die, and now we also learned about the inferior health care bills in third world countries, so we were attempting to get to Bonaire." "Did we kill him by not receiving help sooner?" "We made sure he was drinking a great deal, and gave him Tylenol every 6 hours."
"Upon examination, I noticed a fine rash on his limbs and chest, and also a wide range of blood within the mouth." I said. "This in conjunction with your excellent history permits me to arrive at an apparent conclusion."
"You gave this poor soul the best treatment given your needs." "Therefore, you did not kill him!" I said, "This poor soul died from your mosquito bite!"
Dengue Fever (Break Bone Fever, Singapore Fever)
Dengue fever can be a viral infection common in tropical and sub-tropical areas. It is spread with a mosquito and symptoms change from mild fever, runny nose, and fatigue within the younger to death (rare, in under 5%) inside middle-aged and older.
The start symptoms after an infected mosquito bite is usually 5-8 days having a rapid continuing development of illness after that inside next 2-4 days. With progression you may see worsening fatigue, elevated temperature to 100-102F, but tend to go as high as 104F briefly, muscle and pain particularly inside limbs, back, and abdomen, and progression of an excellent red rash on the limbs and thorax.
Occasionally there exists bleeding through the nose, mouth, and GI tract, but this is usually having a re-infection. Less frequently, there is certainly hemorrhage in the lungs.
Of high interest is neck pain, eye (retro-orbital) aching, and neck stiffness that will accompany this infection. This can often mimic early meningitis specifically in in conjunction with an elevated temperature. Also important is any bleeding problems. It all raises the bar and this person needs being watched carefully. A log must be kept documenting symptoms, temperature, and fluid/food intake no less than every 6-8 hours. If there is neck stiffness, meaning that it causes increased pain to touch the chin on the chest, shooting pain around the spine, and/or confusion or forgetfulness, all associated with a temperature over 100F and of course over 103F, it needs to become taken very seriously and medical-related assistance ought to be sought.
More often these days the symptoms will be relatively mild (being a common flu bug) while using infection subsiding on its own in 3-8 days as numerous viral infections do however, the fatigue may persist for a number of more weeks.
The treatment there's, however, not all viruses is supportive. Tylenol (if no allergies to) in addition to increased clear fluids may be the standard of care together with close observation. Antibiotics are useless and does not treat a viral infection. DO NOT give aspirin, aspirin products, or any situation that may cause bleeding!
Prevention is paramount. Several countries for example Grenada, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad have scheduled sprayings to partially eradicate the offending mosquitoes yet you may still find lots of cases of Dengue. Mosquito nets, coils, and spray may help. A word of warning! In the under developed there are numerous models of insecticides both on and away from the black market. I think someone must invent a labeled ingredient that rhymes i.e. piro-photo-phene, as well. These aren't chemicals that get a blip about the internet in different language, however they will knock a billie goat out cold temporarily whether it inhales these possible mustard gas variants. As a gringo friend in Cabedelo, Brazil used to say, "You gotta like it!" "Where else inside the world do you see this crap?"
By and enormous the most effective measure seems to be generous levels of traditional southeast Asia, jungle tested DEET especially during mosquito breeding periods as well as the rainy season. All DEET just isn't made the same, so check the percentage around the packaging. Generally, a greater percentage means are more durable.
There are still blood tests available for detecting herpes virus in lots of countries and there is a vaccine in testing.
As one last note, I have found that the treatment, surgery, and diagnostics for most countries are adequate for all those however the most complicated of cases. Seek private doctors, a lot of whom speak a minimum of broken English, and hospitals, not public, and count on paying cash.