FAQ- Are you worried about the Zika virus?
05 May 2016 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
In light of the current Zika pandemic scare, we've been asked frequently about whether we worry about catching exotic diseases that are more prevalent in tropical areas and third world countries and the answer is yes and no. Yes, it's a concern, but we take all reasonable precautions. And, no, we don't worry so much that it prevents us from sailing in the tropics or to third world countries. When we were at Pitcairn Island in 2007, the bird flu was the big scare. The Pitcairners held an island meeting (all 46 of them) and decided to Â"close the islandÂ" until it was prudent to allow visitors again. We were already there and had previously been at sea for more than 14 days when we arrived, so they figured we were safe enough. They did, however, have the island health officer give us a once-over.
We were in South Africa and Namibia when the Ebola virus hysteria was at its peak. We were more concerned that we wouldn't be able to fly out of Africa to the USA for the holidays than we were about actually catching the disease. As it turned out, we had our temperatures taken while waiting in the ticket line at the airport terminal. If there was no temperature, we were allow to board. We had no problems. And, now, of course, it's the Zika virus that's the concern. The big difference with the Zika virus is that it's transmitted not by birds or other mammals, but by mosquitoes, much like yellow fever, malaria, dengue or the West Nile viruses. One major difference, however, is that the carrier culprit is a daytime-active mosquito. In case you didn't know, the Zika virus was first identified back in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda, hence its name. I found a map which shows the current probability of Zika distribution and occurrence worldwide, and obviously the more tropical areas are the most likely.
As of this month, there have been 16 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Trinidad. The Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, has cautioned the population not to panic. Â"Regarding concerns that the Zika could be a life threatening public health issue, he said Â"what you do not want from Zika is panic. Please keep it in perspective. Please let us keep our heads on to eliminate thisÂ". He said that the virus needs to be attacked on the ground level, with a public education and clean up campaign. He said Â"if you have 100 people in a room, eighty per cent will not show symptomsÂ". Deyalsingh said: Â"I am appeal to everyone. Do not create unnecessary panic. The comment of Zika take you, you going to die, is absolutely not trueÂ".
I wasn't sure I'd trust the Trinidadian Minister of Health's comments, but the CDC had the same type of information. Â"People usually donÂ't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.Â" Obviously though, the concern of pregnant women for birth defects in unborn children and the possible tie of Zika with Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome is very real.
So what precautions do we take in general? We have had yellow fever shots in the past and had a booster before we left South Africa for the Guianas. The most prudent precaution, other than not visiting the areas at all, is to cover up and use insect repellent religiously, which we try to do. In the past, we were especially careful about the dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active, but with the Zika, it's an issue all day long. Fortunately, mosquitoes are less of a problem along the coast and we've not been bothered by them. We did get bites while touring the Caroni Swamp despite the insect repellent we applied. So far, no problems. Considering there are only 16 identified cases in Trinidad, we think the chances of contracting Zika are pretty remote.
That said, we're thinking of stopping in Puerto Rico on our way north which already has 475 reported cases of Zika, most acquired locally, i.e. bitten by an infected mosquito versus travel-related or sexually transmitted. We'll take extra precautions if we end up stopping there, e.g. mosquito netting, care with insect repellent, covering up during the day, etc. Being aware and prepared is a key part of the battle.
Check justalittlefurther.com for links and pix.
04 May 2016 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
A great word Â...A great word Â... Â"splashÂ". It's a figure of speech called onomatopoeia Â... when a word mimics the sound it actually makes. There's always a little trepidation when we hear the TraveLift rumble up and get into position to lift Cups for her trip back to the water. They hitched up the straps, lifted her a little and then removed the stands. David snuck underneath to paint the small patches at the bottom of the keel that we hadn't been able to paint. Will those straps hold our 20-ton girl? Of course, they will, but there's always a hitch in our breaths as they pull the stands away.
We followed her down the dirt road to the haul-out/launch bay. The TraveLift moves about 2 miles/hour and Cups swayed ever so slightly as they rolled along. It wasn't hard to keep up.The driver aligned the TraveLift wheels with the narrow tracks and they moved Cups over the water. Slowly, slowly, slowly they lowered her and then in slow-mo, her keel touched the water. There's no actual loud splash Â... at least there shouldn't be. It's a gentle reunion with the water and she was once again floating, the straps still in place till we boarded her and made ready to go. We clambered aboard, a long step from the TraveLift track onto the port side deck. David checked the new seacock and thru-hull for leaks and made sure the engine seacock was open. He started the engine and burped the new shaft seal. We checked there was water coming out the exhaust. He gave forward and reverse gears a try to make sure we were ready. We'd already rigged lines and the dock guys were holding the lines as the TraveLift lowered and released the straps and Cups was on her own. We backed slowly out of the launch slip into the waters of Chaguaramas Harbour.
As luck would have it, Zephyr, a sister ship to Nine of Cups, had been hauled the day before. Bill stopped by just before we splashed to ask if we were interested in the mooring they'd just left which was all paid up for another week. How sweet is that? David maneuvered us to the mooring field, I hauled in the docklines and prepared to pick up the mooring. Two tries before I lassoed the sucker Â... I'm out of practice. But we're back in the water and making plans for finally putting some miles under the keel in 2016.
Check justalittlefurther.com for pix.
Dash & Cash Before We Splash
03 May 2016 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Even though we reserve our splash date and time just a couple days in advance, the last minute dash to get everything done just before we splash is always hectic. There always seems so much to do and so little time to accomplish it even though it's a planned event.
Head on over to JustALittleFurther
... it's time to get ready to go back in the water ... at last!
Growing old-er ... aren't we all?
02 May 2016 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Weâ€™ve recently noticed that some people tend to treat us differently than in the past. I look in the mirror and, yeah, there are always a few more lines and wrinkles. If it werenâ€™t for Miss Clairol, Iâ€™d be gray. Gravity has taken its toll on my body â€¦ some parts sag instead of being perky. David looks the same to me as he did 30+ years ago, although I guess his hair is white now and a bit sparse on top. But still I wonder exactly when we started looking like we were feeble and stupid? How come some folks insist on calling us â€śhonâ€ť and â€śsweetieâ€ť? I really hate that familiarity from strangers. It should be reserved for family and children. Did we treat older people this way when we were younger? Did we automatically assume that anyone over age 60 was senile and incapable of intelligent thought or decisions or providing sound advice from years of experience?
Read our thoughts on growing older and see if you agree. JustALittleFurther.com
Anti-fouling Our Big-Bottomed Girl
01 May 2016 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I never appreciate how big Nine of Cups is until I start painting her bottom. With a modified full keel, our 45â€˛ (14m) girl has a big, big bottom ... a lot of area to cover with anti-fouling paint. Painting the bottom has become my job ... mostly because it seems I do little else aboard plus I can't screw it up very much. It's pretty mindless work ... right up my alley.
I can use some help. Put on your painting clothes and head on over to JustALittleFurther.com
Blue View - Replacing a Seacock
30 April 2016 | Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Nine of Cups has 16 thru-hulls â€“ holes in her bottom. A couple of these are for depth and speed transducers, but 14 are used to allow water into or out of the boat. For example, one is used as an engine cooling water intake, another is connected to the galley sink drain, another serves as the water intake for our desalinator, and so on. Since it could be a real disaster if a hose connected to one of these thru-hulls broke or came loose, each of the 14 thru-hulls is fitted with a shut-off valve â€“ or seacock in sailorâ€™s parlance. As part of our annual haul-out chores, we check, lube and exercise each seacock, and examine all the hoses and hose clamps.
One seacock needed replacing ... read about the process at JustALittleFurther.com