I am a human pincushion

One of the things I've been working on is our medical kit. I searched online forums, read Mahina's Offshore Cruising companion, and talked to my Mom*.

I created a preliminary list of supplies and we've purchased most of them. A few of the more exotic items (airway kit? suture kit?) we are waiting to buy until after advanced first aid courses. I've ziploc'd all of the items into organized bunches and they are in a cooler bag. Now we have a good excuse to keep the cooler bag which we can always empty and use briefly when we "need" to bring cold beer on shore.

Then, I had a surprisingly good visit to the local travel medicine center where I found my last source of wisdom for the medical kit.

I was explaining our story to the doctor so that she would understand why I wasn't completely sure where I was going but that it would definitely be isolated, rural, and all along the tropical zone of every-kind-of-disease-imaginable and she said "Oh yes, I understand. I've crewed on boats as far as Vanuatu".

I was speaking to a doctor who was also a cruiser. How perfect is that?!

After she ordered a list of vaccines that would make my shoulder hurt for a week and require several follow up visits with even more shots, we went over my medical kit list item by item during which she made fear inducing comments like "oh you'll definitely want something stronger than that for skin fungus."

Then she gave me her schedule so I can come back in a few weeks after looking into a bunch of issues and items she had brought up and get our prescription meds. Sweet!

It is completely legal for a ship's captain to obtain prescriptions for medicines that will not leave the ship, but try telling that to a pharmacist while asking for injectable pain killers and antibiotics. Sounds fishy.

It's easy to remember the "easy" tasks that go south and so I wanted to publicly record one potentially difficult task that went much easier than planned - finding someone willing to give us prescriptions.

EDIT: Added for posterity. The books Where There is No Doctor and Where There is No Dentist are available for free online.

*Although many mothers are wise, mine also happens to be a nurse.


  1. I would very much be interested in hearing any specifics on what was recommended that you carry, if you feel like sharing. Feel free to email us if you don't feel like posting the item by item list to your blog.

    Our email is zero to cruising at gmail dot com. :)


  2. Very interesting, Liv! Did you have to get Hepatitis boosters? I heard recently that Hep A is only good for 10 years.

  3. There is so much more to being a global cruiser than I ever (previously) realized. Amazing.

  4. Hi Livia,
    I don't know if you have already done so (or if you have time), but I highly recommend the NOLS Wilderness First Responder course. I have taken it twice, and I am hoping that Brian and I will be able to take it again before we go. It is long and expensive, but it is one of the most worthwhile things I've ever done. (The ocean is definitely considered a wilderness environment; their definition is being an hour or more from definitive medical care.)

    Just search for NOLS, and I'm sure you'll be able to find a list of courses. They will really give you the skills to use whatever first aid supplies you take. I think they also have a shorter, less expensive course too, which would definitely be worthwile--unless you guys are already medical professionals!

    All the best,

  5. @Mike - Sure thing, I'm going to wait two weeks for me to revisit the pharmacist and then I'll send it to you.
    @Jessica - The Hep A second shot of the series is good for 20 years as per what they wrote in my booklet. Have you heard differently? Once you do the 3 Hep B's I thought it was for life but I haven't finished them so right now I am good for "1 month".
    @Jenni - Me too.
    @Lisa - Thanks for that. They aren't coming anywhere near WA/BC for the advanced course anytime soon :(

  6. and to think you used to (near)faint at the site of a needle!

  7. Liv: unrelated could not reply through SSCA about anchor, have you tried craigs list/ Seattle fortress (in title) will get you a deal!
    SV Kookaburra

  8. @SV Kookaburra - Thanks for thinking of us! The anchor I see would be a great primary but we are looking for probably two sizes up from that for our storm anchor (I think you are referring to the 18" fluke which I believe to be a 10lb Guardian).

  9. If you are interested in taking a wilderness first aid course look into Slipstream, they are based in Victoria. I took one of their courses when I was in search and rescue and it was very thorough. I keep the text on the boat now....just in case.
    I have enjoyed reading your blog, thank you.



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