Claudia and I headed down to Fort Lauderdale for the boat show—one of the biggest in the country. I have actually never been to a boat show, so this was kind of jumping into the deep end—the show was HUGE; you had to take a bus from one area to another. We went from booth to booth talking to people about our project and trying to find support—we still desperately need a watermaker; we have an atmospheric watermaker donated from Generative Planet that draws drinking water from the air, but although it makes just enough for drinking, we need a reverse osmosis watermaker to have the capacity for washing, cooking, cleaning clinical supplies and getting salt off equipment.
The variety of products and vendors was amazing—I saw a lot of gear we really needed, but I also saw a lot of gear I really WANTED. I know the difference, but just the boats alone that were on display gave me some pretty serious boat envy (“Now this magnificent vessel comes equipped with a docking minisub and helipad…”). Captain J was working at the show, representing a series of beautiful coastal cruisers, and one of my favorite companies, US Submarines (they make luxury yacht submarines…think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea meets 21st Century technologies), had one of their original submarines on display. I can dream, ok?
One thing that was strange was that we only came across one single booth focused on medical issues at sea—there was a lot of safety equipment as part of other booths’ products, but only John Alibrandi and First Responder Educational Services were entirely devoted to dealing with medical emergencies offshore. FRES sells AWESOME offshore medical kits, and they donated one of their Res-Q-Kits to us, as well as extra IV fluids, a HeartSine automatic external defibrillator, adrenaline injectors and saline injections. John also put us in contact with On Call International, a remote medicine and rescue service—and they are going to let us call them to access physician advice from our clinics, bringing more expert medical advice to our remote locations, and are giving us a special deal on their remote rescue service. If any of us get badly hurt, they can coordinate our rescue and repatriation.
There are two things on boats that I always think are woefully under-supplied; one is the anchoring system (hardly any boats carry adequate anchors, chain, rode and other ground tackle) and the other is always the first aid kit. At sea, any possible injury or maiming you can imagine, and every bizarre and complex medical emergency possible can and does occur, often thousands of miles from the nearest help. Head injury, massive blood loss, compound fractures, internal bleeding, fishhooks in the eye, burns, heart attacks, drowning, envenomations by fish, snakes, jellyfish…and these kind of terrible catastrophes are always, ALWAYS within arms’ reach when you are at sea. Space may be short on boats, but the medical kit is something you HAVE to stock well in the hope you never open it—for the first time, getting ready to sail Southern Wind with 20,000 pounds of medical equipment, I feel that the boat I’m on has a sufficient medical kit! Complete, now that John Alibrandi gave us the AED (we had not yet found a defibrillator)!
Bellingham Bells also sent us a beautiful, beautiful 12-inch brass bell blank and fittings (USCG regulations require a 12-inch bell for a vessel our size)—we mounted it on the back deck, and it is LOUD! No fog or night collisions for us! Also, Jim at Raymarine took the time to go over the way we installed the Raymarine system on Southern Wind, and the day after the boat show we received a small part from him in the mail that tied our Radar, Sonar, GPS and Chartplotters into a single integrated system. Thanks Jim!
It was exciting to see some new scenery, and talk to so many people from around the world. The Fort Lauderdale Show is a big one, and loads of company presidents and directors were there repping their products. It’s always good to hear the latest developments in marine technology straight from the mouths of the developers themselves, and it was great to get so many tips and ideas from all the old salts we met. My voice might be broken from talking about Floating Doctors all day long for two days, but it was worth it—many thanks to everyone we met, and especially to those of you who followed through and helped us in our desperate search for the tools we need to safely conduct our voyage.