I am often asked what books I carry for medical problems afloat.
One of my favorites, Being Your Own Wilderness Doctor,
from Stackpole Books, is no longer in print. But Your Offshore
Doctor, a manual of medical self-sufficiency by Dr. Micheal
H. Bielan is a close second.
Another book I find useful on board is the Merk Manual of Medical
Information, Home Edition. It is written in every day language
and has answered most of the questions I have had regarding health issues.
The section on dehydration is well worth reading.
At Pender Harbour, we had met Robert who spent a lot of years working
as a rigger in the logging industry, going up huge trees to rig blocks
and tackles, doing splicing and of course trusting his life to the knots
he tied. He also has done a lot of sailing in these island filled waters.
About three years ago he treated himself to all new line for his 33
foot Garden designed ketch and chose Spectra for its low stretch. Unfortunately
he assumed all lines are much alike when he decided to go aloft to inspect
his rigging. He tied his four-part gantline (block and tackle) to his
new main halyard using a bowline with a five-inch tail, and then attached
his bosun's chair per normal. After pulling himself aloft and working
at the masthead for a while, he unhooked his safety line and began lowering
himself when the bowline slipped and untied and let Robert, gantline
and chair fall free. Fortunately he was able to slow his fall a bit
by gripping the mast, but he hit the deck with one foot extended and
shattered his ankle so badly that after two years the doctors found
they had to amputate just above the ankle. Friends in the rigging business
doubted his story of the king of knots letting go under load. But during
his recover, Robert did some testing and found the slippery, cored design
of Spectra did let this knot work loose, especially in a gantline situation
where the load is alternately eased and tightened. Moral of the story,
even with normal lines, it pays to tape the tail of a bowline if you
are going aloft on a rope halyard. With slippery Spectra line I think
his story would make me consider using a bowline backed by two hitches
and then taped.
(One of the reasons we choose to stick with three strand Dacron for
halyards is that whenever we want extra security we stick the end of
the line through one of the lays of the standing part. This jams the
tail in place. We use line from New England Ropes or Marlow pre-stretched
Dacron on the main halyard of our boats since 1977 when we switched
from wire halyards and found the stretch was not a significant problem.)