December 28, 2018

Day 85

Noon Position: 45 45S 16 51E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): SExS 7

Wind(t/tws): NWxN 17 – 22

Sea(t/ft): W 10

Sky: Stratus; flat gray sky

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1011 falling

Cabin Temp(f): 63

Water Temp(f): 48

Relative Humidity(%): 66

Sail: #2 genoa to windward and poled out; #1 genoa to leeward and free footed. Broad reach.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 166

Miles since departure: 11,551

Avg. Miles/Day: 136

I let Mo drift SE overnight on twin headsails poled out, three reefs. Pretty fast, but wind continued to veer north, so mid morning I took the leeward pole down and ran that sail, the number one genoa, free for a few hours. This gives Mo another ten to fifteen degrees to windward while still running both headsails. In the afternoon wind increased to the high twenties and low thirties, and I’ve gone all the way down to the number two with two reefs.

Again, the lesson is that wind velocity is not the sole factor in defining how much sail one can carry. The sea now is a boulder garden; not high but steep and confused and flat on the quarter. It slaps Mo around as if she were the new kid in school and this is the first recess. Two reefs settles things a bit. Monte works less hard. Mo falls over less often. It is also not fast, which is painful to the skipper.

At least having the clew of the sail close allowed me to change out a chaffed sheet end.

I woke at 4am with a throbbing headache, an occurence now frequent enough to count as a pattern. The pain is like what one would acquire from having gone on a bender followed by a rolling hitch with several round turns for good measure. But my nightly consumption of adult beverages on Mo is limited to one beer followed by, every few nights, a small glass of red wine, which hardly throws one three sheets to the wind. The issue just has to be dehydration, but on this particular day, I’d been careful to drink my two full liters of clear water.

The word that woke me was scurvy. The question: is a headache an early symptom? The realization: I’ve not been at all careful about vitamin C intake this voyage. The double whammy: I’m not even sure how much vitamin C I have aboard.

I’ve made a few ocean passages by now, but they are rarely long enough to run entirely out of fresh foods; even the longest Figure 8 1.0 leg was only 68 days. So, I’ve never been forced to establish a vitamin C intake regime. But the Figure 8 2.0 is now approaching 90 days, and we’re just getting started.

In the morning, I went directly to the medicines inventory list. My first aid kit and medications were assembled lovingly by my sister, a retired nurse, for the first Figure 8 attempt. She did such a thorough job that I didn’t even glanse at, much less audit, these stores before departing on the Figure 8 2.0.

I scroll the neatly laminated five pages of alphabetized indications, also the work of my sister, till I reach “Scurvy.” The note states: “Ascorbic Acid deficiency. Take vitamin C.” In red next to this it says, “Randall says he will handle getting vitamins.”

I did?

I have no recollection of that or of “handling” it either. What an embarrassment, to have to turn for Cape Town because I’d forgotten a sailor’s most basic medicine!

I spent the next hour digging out any bottle or vile that contained the precious acid.

Upshot: I did handle it. Oodles of Airborne, multivitamins, dehydrated veg pills, etc. In fact, I have quite a treasure trove. The gotcha is that I should have audited these for expiration dates before the second departure, but even after weeding-out the expired and soon to expire, I could likely make it to Mars.

And according to Wiki, headache is not a early symptom of scurvy. So, I’m back to dehydration as the culprit without knowing exactly the cause.

11 Comments on “Scurvy

  1. Expired or not, they’ll still work. Expiration dates on vitamins are a bit of a mixed bag, still effective but not enough that the manufacturer wouldn’t love for you to buy a new one.

  2. Randall, as to your headaches, red wine contains a grape skin chemical that is a vasodilator which will expand the blood vessels in your brain. If you are sensitive as I am, red wine is a guaranteed headache. I hope they stop. There is little that is more distracting than a headache.

  3. When I saw the photo of you standing on the top tubular lifeline it sent a chill down my spine.

    I recall sailing solo from St Marten to NY and I also stood on my top tubular lifeline to adjust my genoa.. When I got back to the cockpit,
    I thought to myself that was the dumbest thing I ever did.
    I realized if I fell off the lifeline I would be dangling over the side attached to the boat with my tether.
    I don’t think I would have been able to get back on board.

    Please be careful.

    • Not a problem if you’re not wearing a lifeline haha. Actually, if you look carefully Randal has a leg either side of the shroud.

  4. I have enjoyed following your adventures on Facebook. Thanks for allowing us to do so. When I read your comments about frequent recurring headaches, the 1st thing that came to mind (given your environs and comments about perpetual moisture) was mold. Mold is a common problem here on the gulf coast after hurricanes and we often see chronic fatigue, myalgias, and headaches with it. I hope you get it sorted and are back to 100%, quickly!

  5. Is two liters of water really enough? My mountaineering experience taught me that pee should be “clear and copious.” If infrequent and yellow, you need more water.

  6. Hi Randall, discovered your blog and needed the full 5 last days to catch up, starting from you crewing in the NW passage. “Hats off” is nowhere sufficient, you have my greatest admiration, you and your admirable wife Jo.
    Wishing you and your wife (Jo, I’m sure you’ll read the post a lot earlier than Randall) a perfect new year and a safe and successful continuation of your F8. And I hope the tracker is just a bit ill and there is nothing bad going on just now, the symbol of Mo pointing plain west at the moment. I’m checking in by the hour to see any changes. Fingers crossed!
    Best wishes from Austria, some mainland far away 😉

  7. Hi Randall, We talked about salt/potassium tablets when you were in Hawaii – we used them to ward off dehydration when I was cruising in the Pacific in the 70s. Since you probably don’t have them, you can make a rehydration drink that will replace fluids, electrolytes and minerals which plain water won’t do: 1 quart water, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon table salt, 3-5 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt substitute if available. Measurements should be precise according to my Kaiser Healthwise handbook. I reckon you’ll have all these ingredients aboard. I’d suggest quitting at least the red wine and probably the beer too, at least until you’re rid of the headaches. The wine definitely exacerbates dehydration. Dry mouth and sticky saliva are also symptoms of dehydration. Hope you feel better soon!

  8. Oh yeah, the last few times I’ve looked at the tracker the boat has been facing backwards too! Has something been repositioned inside the boat to cause this?

  9. Re: Headaches I used to get headaches every time i slept onboard, until i realized my head was slightly below my feet. After elevating my head, the problem is very much reduced. Headaches can also be caused by sinus infection or swelling. An antihistamine spray such as Afrin works well for me when the conditions in my sinuses warrant it. Carry on, sir, you are dong well and we are pulling for you!!

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