stitches & staples : DIY medicine for the ocean

After the hustle and bustle of the London Boat Show I was very happy to see the hills of Cumbria this weekend, where I spent a day with Dr Sean Hudson of Expedition Medicine learning about problems and solutions to body breakages at sea. We stitched and stapled and taped and splinted and I even injected myself. Hopefully I won’t have to manage more than the odd skin infection but it feels good to be prepared and having tried out some of the techniques on dry land first.

The second part of the course was slightly chillier than the first and involved an afternoon with some of the wonderful volunteers at Patterdale Mountain Rescue. Yes, you’re right to think that I will encounter few mountains on the ocean but these folk are also water based, with a super cool RIB for use on Ullswater. The temperature was super cool too – snow on all the surrounding hills and there we were jumping out of the RIB to be hauled back in again in a variety of ways. The idea being that I now have an idea of different rescue techniques as any boat to boat rescue out at sea will likely come from a container ship dropping off a small RIB to come and save me. It was all a good refresher to the Sea Survival course I did back in 2007 and again, we hope it won’t ever be put into practice but it is jolly good to know it. My favourite part of the exercise was leaping off the RIB while whizzing along at a rate of knots – true James Bond stylee. That definitely won’t happen while I’m at sea – me and Dippers, we’re staying together!

So a big thank you to Sean and his wife Caroline for hosting me and teaching me about all the blisters and boils and mushrooms and funny things which will likely pay a visit while I’m at sea and stocking up my medical bag, and to the Patterdale crew for helping us out too.

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