This outstanding event occurs each year as part of the Phuket yacht racing calendar. Combined with the other yacht racing events, they all are putting Phuket on the map as a location for sailing, and after racing parties. Phuket International Hospital has been providing emergency response services for these sailing regatta s for over 8 years, and during those years they have responded to many incidents, and luckily, only a few accidents. The most serious accident occurred a few years ago, when two yachts collided, crushing a crew member resulting in many fractures and a complicated extrication from the yacht to shore. Whilst not related to sailing or the events, deaths have also occurred, but much more common are those incidents related to the parties, and their effects on partygoers.
Paracetamol and other hangover cures are liberally dispensed on shore by the nursing staff prior to the morning’s races. It is not uncommon to have a lineup of weary and ‘ill’ sailors, seeking attention as a result of overindulging in the copious amounts of alcohol and festive activities of the previous evening. Sailing regattas in Phuket have a reputation for being fun, and it cannot be disputed that Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek has some of the best. Alcohol and sailing do not mix though, and for those who are still intoxicated, sailing is not advised.
Dehydration, and alcohol does dehydrate the body, is exacerbated when performing physical activity such as sailing in the barmy tropical weather conditions that Phuket offers. Like all outdoor activities in Phuket, drinking copious amounts of non alcoholic fluids, and a daily sachet of “oral rehydration salts” or ORS as it is commonly called, is recommended. If you are not urinating at least every 3 hours, you are not drinking enough fluid.
Phuket’s sun is also fierce, even with the cloud cover typical at this time of year. Sunburn is another common aliment treated by the nurses, and another ailment that with some preventative measures can be avoided. It is simple to apply some suntan lotion, wear appropriate clothing and a hat, but you would be surprised how many of those going sailing do not do this, and how many by the end of racing look red and burnt, and not because of the parties. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that sailors have a higher incident of skin cancer, due to a long history of being exposed to the sun’s rays without coverage.
Whilst discussing burns, every experienced sailor has at some time had rope burns, most likely caused by inexperience or when the sheets or halyards have been ripped through hands causing considerable friction on the skin, thus the burns. Like any burn, water is the treatment of choice, in order to cool the burnt area and bring the skin’s temperature back to 37 degrees Celsius. Preventative measures such as wearing sailing gloves whilst racing is also advisable, particularly for the inexperienced sailor.
Most skippers also want their racing vessels to be light, and the diehard skipper will take all non essential items off his yacht in an effort to get more speed and a podium place. One essential piece of equipment that should not be removed is the First Aid Kit, but I am surprised how many yachts do not have one. Essential items such as bandages and dressings should be carried, as well as vinegar for treating jelly fish stings, and a first aid manual which can act as a reference for treating various situations correctly.
Dramamine is a drug readily available in most Phuket pharmacies and is an ideal treatment for sea or motion sickness. When people become sea sick, they usually take some form of medication but in the case of Dramamine, it can take up to 2 hours for the body to absorb the drug and become effective when taken in tablet form. If you are prone to sea sickness, take Dramamine well before going out on the water, even consider taking a tablet the night before, and another the next day, to ensure that the therapeutic dose is reached and maintained. If you become sea sick, and need the Dramamine to work quickly, don’t swallow the tablet, but chew it and leave it in your mouth and under your tongue, as this allows your body to absorb the drug faster than through the digestive system.
In the inner ear sea sickness affects the sense of balance and equilibrium as well as the sense of spatial orientation. Dramamine effectively blocks the working of the inner ear, thus reducing motion sickness. Going below deck is not recommended, as sea sickness is improved if continually focusing on the horizon, thereby stabilizing the brain on a fixed location. If you must lie down, do it on your back, with your eyes closed, or better still, keep active, and try to keep your brain focused on other tasks.Fair winds and following seas.