Day 94 – Medico to the Rescue

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 17 Mar 2022 11:52
Noon Position: 44 10.8 S 032 32.6 E
Course: SE Speed: 3 knots
Wind: NE, F3 Sea: slight
Swell: W 2 m
Weather: sunny, mild
Day’s Run: 84nm (50nm Easting)

Two days ago I noticed a small swelling on my left temple. It wasn’t painful but I was concerned. I am a long way from any medical facilities and this is not a good part of the world in which to be incapacitated while sailing single-handed. So, to be on the safe side, yesterday morning I rang Sylph’s Medical Support Officer back at the Squadron in Adelaide for advice. Initially we decided that it was probably a minor aneurysm and nothing to worry about but after another 24 hours further symptoms have developed suggesting an infection. This morning I again consulted with Sylph’s MSO (thank goodness for the satphone) and the diagnosis has been changed to the possible onset of cellulitis which of course can be quite nasty if allowed to go unchecked. I am not feeling unwell or feverish at all so the infection cannot be too severe as yet but, as a result of the medical consultation, I have begun a course of antibiotics.
Thank you Ian very much for your support. It is a great relief to know that you are available to consult with about such matters.
General hygiene has been one of my major concerns when I started preparing for this voyage, mainly due to the limited quantity of water that can be carried. I can keep reasonably clean myself by washing with sea water, though it is important to get most of the salt off which I do with a good towel down afterwards. The laundry on the other hand is much more problematic. One can only carry a limited amount of clothing and bedding, and there is simply no effective way of washing it. Some have suggested washing in sea water but that of course leaves a residue of salt in everything and salt is hygroscopic, ie it absorbs moisture. Personally I have found that the best method of doing the laundry at sea is to simply give it a good airing whenever the sun is shining, but of course such days are few and far between at these latitudes. (It is a lovely sunny day today and some towels and socks are hung out on the clothesline at the back of the cockpit.)
Having said all the above, in this instance I think the infection has been caused by me scratching a bit of itchy UV damaged dry skin on my forehead (a consequence of my chosen lifestyle), and then not disinfecting the area afterwards. I realise this is perhaps not the most savoury topic; however, I think it is an important one and I like to represent my cruising life without too much gloss.
Back to the sailing. Yesterday afternoon the wind was in the NE but by midnight it had veered into the ESE. As a consequence Sylph was heading in the wrong direction, so at 2325 we tacked onto starboard. However, with the light wind and the swell we found ourselves making no better than NE. After a patch of calm this forenoon which had us pretty much drifting under the drifter only, the wind has started to pick up and backed more into the NE again. Now we are close reaching under all plain sail (mainsail and jib) making good a course of ESE which will take us to Prince Edward Islands if we so desire.
As a result of the light airs, Sylph’s day’s run is less than usual, but I am happy that the swell has been relatively long and smooth so that we have been able to keep moving without having to deal with slatting sails.
All is well.