Well, the last few days in Sausalito have been pretty well packed, both with tourist activity and boat chores. But first, a bit more detail on our trip down here…
Several have asked for more info on our sick crewmember. It was actually quite a harrowing tale…thankfully with a happy ending. After leaving Neah Bay, and clearing Cape Flattery, our course turned SW, heading out into the Pacific. The winds were light, and a heavy westerly swell was running, left over from the storms of the previous week. Led to very rocky rolly conditions, with the swell on the beam. Seasickness is a fact of life…it happens! Has happened to many sailors in the past; will happen to most at some point in their sailing careers. Kirk felt queasy as we entered the swells, and vomited several times into the evening and all the next day. Our concern was that he not get too badly dehydrated, a common side effect of the frequent barfing. We tried to keep him poured full of electrolyte replacement, but weren’t sure if it was enough. Adam was alone on watch at around 2am, heading towards Newport for a fuel stop the next day. Mike poked his head out of the cabin, saying “Adam, get down here quick…it’s Kirk”. Kirk was unconscious, lying on his back, half in the head, half in the salon, with his back bent in an unnatural angle over the threshold. He was moaning, and his “lights were out”. After talking to him, and coaxing, his eyes opened and he came to. We got him to sit up after checking extremities, and he asked for his fluid replacement bottle, already ½ litre to the good for the night. He was drenched with sweat, but was able to get up and into his bunk, a very sick puppy indeed. At this point, we were obviously extremely concerned for him, but still thought it was simply bad dehydration, and decided to keep him drinking fluids as we made our way to Newport, and to get him to a clinic on arrival. The rest of the night passed without further incident, with Kirk alternating between sleep and groggy wakefulness, tentatively sipping fluids.
Upon landfall in Newport at 10am, Cindi walked a shaky Kirk up the gangplank to a cab, for them to ride into the Newport hospital. Once there, they began two I.V.’s of fluid, also suspecting dehydration. His BP was low, and pulse elevated, but not alarmingly so at that point. They did a blood workup, and that’s when the red flag was raised. His blood hematocrit level was ½ of normal, indicating severe blood loss.
Kirk was put in an ambulance for emergency surgery in Corvallis, about an hour away. They gave him 2 pints of blood, and his BP continued to drop. Then, under lights and siren, he got 2 more pints. In the OR arthroscopic surgery stopped the bleeding in 4 blood vessel tears between the esophagus and stomach. Apparently the vessels tore due to violent vomiting due to seasickness. Altogether, he received 8 pints of blood! They must’ve thought they had a vampire on their hands!! His doctor told him that if we would have taken the time to head to Coos Bay, as we’d considered, he likely would have bled to death. Very scary stuff…
Kirk spent next 3 days in recovery before being released, and thankfully is now recouping at home.
So, what are the lessons we’ve learned from this very close call???
1. Seasickness is not a good thing!! Encourage or even insist that crew take preventative measures for the first couple of days out. The other 3 on the boat took scopolamine and/or meclizine, and had virtually no symptoms of mal de mer.
2. Be aware of the potential seriousness of severe seasickness. We’re all taught to be aware of dehydration, but realize that it can be more than that.
3. If someone passes out to the point of unconsciousness, this is a sign that something much more serious is likely a cause, and dig deeper to find that cause. For instance, we have a BP cuff aboard Bravo, but didn’t think to use it, again under the assumption that we were dealing with simple dehydration.
|Cindi the Bravo figurehead approaching the Golden Gate!|
|Nice to get out of the soggy Pacific NW!!!|
We went to the “Bay Model” today. It’s an Army Corps of Engineers scale model of the whole SF Bay and tributaries, stretching over 1-1/2 football fields. Though the water was drained for repairs, it’s still an amazing sight. They built it before the age of super computers to model effects of development, oil spills, dam construction, etc. Also toured their museum about construction of the Liberty ships and tankers in WWII, here in Sausalito, in fact right where we’re now moored. Was very interesting personally, as both Mark’s dad and mine served on these ships during the war.
|Mark ready to throw the BIG switch aboard a Liberty Ship!|
That’s about all for now. Hope to get underway tomorrow for Southern California, with time to explore the Channel Islands, Catalina, and the beach scene!!!