On the Eve of Adventure

Night Sailing on Lanier
Night Sailing Lanier on Steadfast.

Here we are on the eve of an adventure.

While Demyan and James argue over what type of solar panel best fits the criteria we have, I wade through school work (like a boss). From afar, I am seemingly oblivious to the fact that in a mere 36 hours, I will be in Key Largo. Several hurdles (not the least of which are a couple of mid-terms) lay between now and then. Nevertheless, I look past those with the distance vision of my mind’s eye.

I’m not expecting a repeat of my last trip to South Florida. The main reasons for that are that I will be better dressed, and I will be over 100 miles from Hell’s Bay.  That winning combination makes for a not-so-hellish experience. I was thrilled to learn the we would be sailing in the Key Largo area, and despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to convince James and Demyan to strike for the Bahamas. Apparently 90 miles of straight ocean travel is a a bit out of our comfort zone with Steadfast. Next year.

I find myself woefully unprepared for the coming adventure. My kit includes an ENO OneLink Shelter System (too expensive and too heavy), a home made first-aid kit, some polyester clothing, and that’s about it.

I wish I could say that I have a plethora of experience that will make this trip a breeze, but I am woefully unprepared in that aspect as well. I’ve gone backpacking, canoe camping, kayak camping, day hiking, and helped lead an expedition for five weeks in the Smoky Mountains.

Okay, truth be told, that expedition stuff is a bit misleading.This past summer, I worked at a summer camp in the Smoky Mountains called Camp Arrowwood. I helped lead a track, Expedition Arrowwood, in which we built rafts, fish traps, fires, canoed, went fishing, hunted cray-fish.

Okay, truth be told, I did just about none of the things described above. I monitored campers as they would do those activities. In five weeks, I only stood on one raft, that I didn’t build. I helped build one fish trap. I lit no more than two fires. I helped crew two canoes. I never even cast a line, or baited one of the hooks, or even unhooked a fish. I never even caught a cray-fish.

That’s not to say my time there was wasted. First aid was my main focus. I wasn’t the camp nurse, nevertheless I carried a first aid kit and sought the tutelage of camp nurses  RN. Cindy and  Dr. Lindsey who are both extremely knowledgeable on the topic.

Dr Lindsey gave me her opinions as to what my first-aid kit was lacking, and insights from her own (mis)adventures in South America and the Middle East. From head injuries to bee stings, seizures to blisters, she spoke on all in tern; flitting from major to minor injuries and back again with a cool sense of expertise. Nurse Cindy put me to work, from fetching ice packs to applying bandages. All the minor injuries I was around for, I had a hand in tending to; familiarizing myself with the ins and outs of my own kit.

I wasn’t then, and am not now even close to an amateur in first-aid. Even that skill I developed is far from adequate to what I might need on a day-to-day basis, much less, the back waters of the Glades or Nicaragua.

It would be foolish to claim that we aren’t facing risks. It would be more foolish not to mitigate those risks by developing our skills. Demyan is master of Steadfast., and lives in Austin where he has hopefully also mastered Spanglish and Tex-Mex cooking. James has varying amounts of skill when it comes to fishing with a rod or a spear, free-diving, using a sling shot, and food preparation. Not to mention he lives in Miami (or near enough that it doesn’t matter), where he has hopefully mastered Spanglish and Cuban cuisine. Whereas my own skills include applying petroleum jelly and laying in hammocks (which I’m not particularly good at as I discussed in my entry about my last trip to South Florida).

So yeah, here we are, on the eve of adventure. I feel completely useless.

-Alex

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