Update: Our Boat is on the hard these days at the Napa Valley Marina. We had some work to do which was better done on land so out it came. Now, we’re taking it apart in all directions and I look forward to
the day it is put back together! We had some dry rot in the coach roof and the port lights (windows for
land lubbers) really needed rebedding. So, all the “windows” are in our back yard getting scraped and polished (THANK YOU Gramps)
and the glass replaced, while the boat is under cover in the marina getting patched up.
We also took the mast off, sold the furl boom, scavenged a fabulous new boom and are replacing some of the rigging as well as re-doing all of the electrical inside the mast.
During all these fun activities that Cameron is working hard on, I have been wrapping my head more thoroughly around our safety measures. I am very humble in the face of the power of nature and I’m awed by the complexities of our bodies. I realize that I don’t have the power to control the medical events in our future but I am going to do my best to arm myself with knowledge and play the odds in my favor.
Let’s face it, life in general is a risk. So how do we mitigate risk while still exposing our kids to the many cool activities, lifestyles and cultures out there. More to the point, how are we planning for risk management at sea?
My fist thought is healthcare
Inside the US there are a few misconceptions about healthcare around the world. Reliable, high quality, affordable and available healthcare is actually quite prevalent all over the world. We will have the pleasure of taking advantage of this 98% of the time when were are within sight of land. For the most part. we will have great care options when needed and at a much much MUCH more affordable rate than is found here (not judging, it’s just a fact).
So our regular visits, non emergency care and emergency care 98% of the time is not a big problem as far as access or cost. So how do we plan for the other 2% of time when we will be on major ocean passages or in a remote anchorage? I remember when Cameron and I set out on my first major passage across the Atlantic in 2002. I thought to myself “what if I get a really bad toothache?” Sounds silly, but a simple toothache can actually develop into a life threatening emergency. This is an emotional “WHAT IF…” fear and I’m not going to let it stop us. But how do we prepare ourselves?
#1 Stellar First Aid Kit – we are very fortunate to have a doctor who is excited about what we are doing, has experience in Wilderness Medicine and trusts us to use medications responsibly as well as committing to be a point of contact for us in case of emergency. He and I sat down over my first aid kit and we went to town. We inherited a very large first aid kit when we bought the boat. Most the the meds need replacing since they are expired and will be replenished, but it has been a phenomenal guide to clue us in on what we should have. I won’t go through the list in its entirety. Suffice to say, it’s a long long long list with all sorts of serious stuff in it. We are also adding to it greatly with stuff like specific diagnostic tools, a splinter kit, preferred wound care products, fancy thermometers, meds of ALL kinds and skin staples (yeah, hope I never have to use those).
#2 Training – The first time I cracked that kit I knew… I had NO idea how to use 90% of the stuff that was
in there. Despite dealing with horse emergencies over the years, giving IV (inter venous) and IM (inter muscular) shots to 1500lb animals and being a Mom, I had very limited training in how to deal properly with emergencies, proper medication administration or recognizing when I had a serious illness or injury vs. something that can be stabilized until we hit land. I don’t want to make any problems even worse with my ignorance so…. I am at this moment submerged in the learning process. I’m taking a Wilderness First Responder course from the Wilderness Medical Institute through NOLS. It’s AMAZING and it’s filling my head with all sorts of tools to be an effective, efficient and thoughtful care provider in an emergency while respecting the limits of my knowledge and capabilities.
I can not tell you how much better I feel about this subject even after only 5 very full days of class… 5 more to go – wish me luck on the test! I recognize that I’m NOT a doctor and the human body is more complex than I can grasp, but at least I have a few tools and familiar resources to draw from. That feels good.
#3 Health Insurance? We have decided on the combination of an extremely high deductible “catastrophic” health insurance plan along with an HSA for U.S. coverage and then a travel plan (still looking……) that will get us back to the US if we desire and cover the requirement for some countries that we have an “exit plan” to protect their healthcare systems. These plans are actually less expensive and require that you are outside the U.S. all but a very short period of time. This gives us some measure of security if something major happened, along with an affordable way to pay for out of pocket costs in and outside the US.
There are a lot of other angles on safety; boat choice, route, communication, weather and storm prep etc. I will be addressing these as time goes on and explaining our process and how we have chosen to arm ourselves. Until then, Happy Trails!
P.S. UPDATE…….I passed my test! I’m now a WFR (Wilderness First Responder-pronounced.. Woofer) *huge sigh of relief* – now back to work!