Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wisdom Teeth and Wind!

Latest Position: 04/08/09 2251Z 4 00.703S 23 47.312W

I have been having a good trip so far through the 'doldrums'. The squalls aren't too bad and they have given me some good speeds. For some reason the wind is just off my nose now but I am able to make 6.5 knots so I'm happy! I have been having trouble with my wisdom teeth. I actually went to the dentist over Christmastime and had no problems but they did say that my wisdom teeth should come out within the next 6 months. Now one of them is pressing on my back molar and feels like it is on fire. I hope they have some good dentists in Grenada! So I guess that answers your question, Melanie. I am brushing and flossing but am still suffering!

More questions:

Do I want any more music?
I have about 10,000 songs on my Itunes so I think I'm good.

Do I have a set list from Saint FM?
I don't think so - what is a set list?

How did I get back on the boat after my swim on the way from Cape Town to St Helena?
I grabbed on to the gunwale and pulled myself up.

Was the water cold in St Helena?
No, it was warm. The weather in St Helena was warm and humid.

What is the outboard motor on my pushpit for?
I have an inflatable rubber dinghy stowed down below. I get it out and put the outboard on when I am going to be in port for awhile, especially while at anchor. I usually get a friend to help me commission the dinghy because the outboard is pretty heavy and awkward.

Do I have a life raft and does it self-inflate?
Yes! I have brand new life raft. It doesn't quite self-inflate. I have to pull the emergency lanyard and then the life raft takes care of the rest. The hard part from what I understand is getting into the raft.
On the subject of safety equipment, I have a water-activated EPIRB which is a distress radio beacon and is another invaluable piece of safety equipment. This is registered to my boat and when it hits the water it sends a digital signal including who and where I am to an international satellite system and then on to search and rescue people.
On the subject of distress radio beacons, I also have a hand held version of the EPIRB that works in a similar way but is small and not just for marine use.

OK, back to it here. Working on my book, finishing my Health schoolwork and enjoying the ride!



Blogger M said...

3 weeks? I can't wait to read of your homecoming!

I have a son exactly your's a great thing you are accomplishing!


April 8, 2009 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those inflatable life rafts have always left me with a question... since they would be needed only if the vessel were swamped and sinking it would probably be due to horrendous weather conditions... so a large balloon in the water would be difficult to hang on to, and the inflatable life raft is just a large balloon. I would think it should be tied onto the boat before inflating, and then cut loose after getting into it. So we'd need a knife with a sheath on our belt so it is handy but doesn't do anything to the raft when not in use. Like a Buck knife.

If your impacted wisdom tooth creates an infection, boil a sharp cutting tool and lance the infection. Don't swallow what comes out, but spit it out and squeeze the boil until it is done. Keep the lance small or it will bleed too much. If you run a fever from such an infection, don't hesitate to call for assistance. It's not the sort of thing to give time to.

God be with you, Zac.

April 8, 2009 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Franklin 5 said...

Hey Zac....
You are stopping in GRENADA?? We spent a month there in and experiencing their culture and doing some missions type work. I was hoping that your journey would have coincided with our trip there. We have many friends in Grenada that could help you out. Do you want me to do some calling and/or emailing to our friends to see if I could get you a referral? Also if you need a great tour guide, our friend Shelvin would be your guy. We have known him for 5 years now (since Hurrican Ivan) and he did a lot of work with Samaritan's Purse when they were there doing relief work. Unfortunately he doesn't have a car, but he is a wealth of info and a really great guy. How soon until you get there?

Trish Franklin
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

April 8, 2009 at 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope the toothache joins the headache in disappearing. Love your descriptive answers to all the questions and can hardly wait for your book! Dinner sounded yummy -- keep fixing and enjoying hot meals and telling us all about them.

Keeping you in my prayers and am on my knees for our blogging buddy Parker as he faces yet another trial. CindyinCincy

April 8, 2009 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger Rachel M. said...

God bless you, brother in; what a journey. I found your story on the Rebelution blog. May the Lord protect you and guide you in the direction He wants you to go. God bless and persevere, knowing Jesus is always by your side!

In Him Alone,
Rachel M.

April 8, 2009 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

With regards to the wisdom teeth; begin salt-water (not ocean water) rinses 3-4 times a day. Mix 1 tsp. salt to 8 ozs. of water. Rinse and spit. Ocean water contains lots of bacteria which is not what you want in your mouth.

If the rinses don't alleviate the pain/swelling, you may need to use amoxicillin to control infection. Dental/oral infections can be serious with fever and swelling, etc. I would certainly try and make it to Mexico become doing anything invasive. There are some good US trained/certified oral surgeons in Mexico who can help you if they need to be removed. Most often a regimen of saline rinses and oral antibiotics (amoxicillin, if you're not allergic to penicillin) are utilized to manage 3rd molar (widsom teeth) eruptions until they can be removed...

I'm hoping you can hang on to have them removed, first thing when you get back to Cali!

April 8, 2009 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Croaker of FrogPond said...

Small wonder that you are having trouble with your wisdom teeth. Considering the trials and triumphs you've handled masterly over the past 9 months, you've certainly been packing in some wisdom. Those wisdom teeth just can't handle it all!

Don't scuffaw at the suggestion of anonymous to operate on yourself. If an extreme condition develops that might suggest such a dramatic course of action is considered, you CAN do it. While in a remote place, I once had such a severely infected tooth that I was seriously making preparations to pull that sucker myself with a pair of mechanic's vice-grip pliers. Fortunately, my guardian angel must have intervened on my behalf and I was able to get myself to civilization (London) to a real dentist, a fine chap from New Zealand. The good news is that he did the honors described by 'anonymous'. The bad news was that I had to remain away from my job and take antibiotics for 10 days to clear up the infection before he could do an effective root canal. Now what to do for 10 days? I'd already spent time in London, so what the heck, I went to Ireland. ... and that's another story. I was not so time constrained as you are so it al worked out for me ... and I had another story to inflict on my grandchildren someday. I hope that you do not have to remain in Grenada for that reason. Of course, if Intrepid also needs complicated repairs again, you can both get some deferred maintenance taken care of.

We'll all coninue to pray for you and Intrepid. Now we'll also pray for your tooth.

Best of luck,
The Croaker

April 8, 2009 at 9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Trish,
We would be very grateful if you could help locate a reputable oral surgeon. The adventure continues - in vaired ways!
Zac should be in Grenada in 3-4 weeks. You can send email to
Thank you so much!

April 8, 2009 at 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you sooo much for your dental advice. We had just told Zac to rinse with salt water and didn't consider that the ocean should not be the obvious source! He has antibiotics on board if he should need them. How likely is it that the tooth/teeth will get infected?

April 8, 2009 at 10:31 PM  
Blogger Carla said...

Thanks for sharing the answers :).

I can totally relate and understand the pain you're feeling with your wisdom teeth. It is pretty terrible at times. In fact, last Friday (the 3rd) I had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled. The swelling was pretty awful (so much that I used a scarf to cover half my face when in public, and people thought I was from a "far away land" :P). However, some people are only swollen for a day and hardly have any issues after the surgery.

I love your blog! What an amazing journey and adventure you are experiencing! A truly great inspiration... and very cool that you're homeschooled because I am too :). I also read that you've been to South Africa! Thats so awesome because my family is originally from there and we visit every now and then to see extended family. Cape Town is definitely a beautiful place to visit.

April 8, 2009 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Carla said...

By the way, I forgot to add in more details about the whole wisdom teeth thing....
Using some sort of mouth wash (Listerine) if you have any will work to help keep the area clean from infection. Rinse 3 or 4 times every day. Make sure to keep it really clean because anyone who doesn't keep it clean after getting the wisdom teeth pulled, will have some serious health risks (bad infection[s]). My dad told me how they recently got two young people in at the hospital because they weren't taking proper care of the areas where the wisdom teeth were pulled. Thankfully both patients were alright in the end. It's a simple thing though and from what I was told, getting an infection is NOT likely as long as you keep your mouth really clean (brush your teeth, use mouth wash at least 3 times a day...etc.), and also as long as you have the proper medication. You'll definitely need some good pain killers (they prescribe meds for you though) and antibiotics to prevent infection. There's nothing risky or scary about it as long as you follow the doctor's instructions :). Sorry for the long comment! I'm not sure when you're getting your wisdom teeth pulled but I just thought I would let you know.

God Bless,

P.S. Remember, putting ice on your cheeks will help with the swelling. But like I said, some people are lucky enough to not really swell.

April 8, 2009 at 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the wisdom teeth are erupting (coming out). Very simply check with the dentist who attended to them over xmas, as to where they are angled correctly -- he'll know this of course from the xrays, if angled all wrong and trying to erupt into the molar or if straight and simply erupting straight up but close to the molar etc. etc. should guide you accordingly. The dentist will let you know exactly what is going on and what to do.

This is of course for Mom to do not Zac obviously :-)

April 9, 2009 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Rory Gogan Singapore said...

Checked the Googlearthometer... U are doing this! Solid effort.

Pop some pain pills.
Oh hell...U know what to do...Rooting for U all the same!!!

April 9, 2009 at 1:49 AM  
Anonymous Grant Fjermedal said...

Self extraction wouldn't seem advisable for a wisdom tooth because depending on how it emerges, it can be well ensconced with the jaw, and you don't want to be breaking any jawbone off in the middle of the ocean.

It would be good if someone could get a dentist to contribute to this thread -- or to jump on the phone via satellite -- as it would be good to get advice on how to prevent (or manage) infection from an impacted wisdom tooth.

For example, at what point does flossing become a danger -- as you won't want to induce bleeding, or move bacteria from one area of the mouth to another.

Grenada has a medical school, and they must have good dentists. The good news is that normally an impacted wisdom tooth isn't a big deal unless you happen to be sitting on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Oral infections do need to be taken seriously, as bacteria from the mouth can -- especially with bleeding gums -- can enter the blood stream, which can trigger deadly sepsis.

So, just to be safe, you might get a dentist to consult with Zac, either online, or on the satellite phone.

Last year I lost a sailing buddy who put off a root canal. It's my understanding that bacteria from the infected tooth entered the blood stream, infected a heart valve, triggered a clot (in the form of a clump of bacteria and damaged tissue breaking away from the heart valve) which caused a stroke that killed him.

That's not going to happen to Zac. But it would be good to get a dentist to monitor the situation. And hooray for the antibiotics aboard.

-- Grant Fjermedal, Seattle

April 9, 2009 at 4:02 AM  
Blogger Douglas Pistone said...

Hello Zac,

It's great you're making good time and sailing at 6.5 knots. It would be great if you could keep that speed up. Let's pray for continued wind.

I hope the wisdom tooth will not bother you very much. Stay focused on your school work and that book.

Good Luck the rest of this week and we'll be praying that wisdom tooth will give you some peace!!!

Sail On,
Douglas Pistone
MDR, California

April 9, 2009 at 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

Zac..Now we know the source of that headache! I work for a periodontist.. rinsing and antibiotics is what you need to do until you can get that tooth extracted.. definitely take the is very hard to numb a tooth that is infected so make sure to stay on them for 10 days or until you get to a DDS. We have an office in Pasadena too if it subsides till June?
Is the tooth impacted? {under the gum}if so it might be ready to pop threw and that may be causing the pain too. Sorry your hurting:{
Take care
Laura Bermuda Dunes Ca

April 9, 2009 at 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell those wisdom teeth to mellow out until you reach Grenada, until then sounds like the salt water (not ocean water)rinses are the thing to do. Thanks for trying to answer my quesiton about Saint FM. A "set list" is a list of song titles and artists that you play during a given hour. Since I missed your show, I was curious as to who you played.
Kodiak Mike

April 9, 2009 at 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I googled Grenada dentists, and there are plenty of them. Ironically I had the same problem when i was your age. My parents dropped me off at the nearest port and i flew home to see my dentist...but i suppose that's not an option for you. Anyway, good luck and keep your spirits high!

April 9, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Yikes! Some of those stories about teeth were 'very scary!' You must have a load of wisdom at seventeen years of age. I did not get mine until my later 20's. I'm much older now, and I still have my wisdom teeth. Long story, but it worked out great for me and I don't remember much pain with them coming in.

Anyway, just know I'm praying that the 'wisdoms' will not cause you any grief and that the pain subsides. It's still a long way to go.

If Intrepid starts clipping along at above hull speeds, and the sailing is comfortable, just know that Someone is listening!


April 9, 2009 at 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Willvp/East London said...

About drinking seawater:

- not advisable to drink seawater of course, I agree with that

- but did you know that rural people in South Africa come to the seaside, once a year, and fill up some bottles to take home with seawater?
They take it home to consume later....seems to be healthy and obviously they know what/how to consume...and save on medication...and to get rid of constipation.


April 9, 2009 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Melanie said...

Hi Marianne,

I did some research on oral surgeons and found one that is US trained and internationally known. I'll e-mail you details...

April 9, 2009 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

I would suggest checking into the capabilities of a few Brazilian Port(s), would save days, could hop a flight to a better locale if needed… Grab some meds in Brazil, flight to Miami (many direct flights to/from Miami…

Zac describes a burning sensation which might mean infection, which could lead to sepsis, which is very deadly…

Just a thought….

Daveh & Skipper

April 9, 2009 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Daveh said...

A dentist isn't going to do the trick... It will require an oral surgeon... If he ends up going to the Caribbean or Miami (or anywhere in FL), I have a MD Ortho-surgeon friend that I can call to see if he can give a reference for one for that locale...


April 9, 2009 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

HI Zac

It's me ANITA, I'm the one who is always asking if you are brushing and flossing....:)Glad to hear you are.

If you have some salt aboard mix 1/2 teaspoon with 1 cup warm water and swish with it. Repeat several times per day. If you have some Motrin, or any other NSAID drug take 400-600 mg. every 4-6 hours AND use ice packs on and off for 20minutes each hour.

Wisdom teeth can be tricky to extract. I would strongly suggest if you can wait to see an oral surgeon that your regular dentist can recommend once you arrive back in CA, that would be best. You really wouldn't want to be back at sea and have a complication like infection or dry socket set in, then you'd really be in trouble.

April 9, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

PS although antibiotics are wonderful medications it is not advisable to take them if you "think" you have an infection, that's why there is such a problem with antibiotic resistance.

Wisdom teeth typically erupt from age 17-21, often times they are impacted or malposed which will cause them to press against the distal or back of the tooth ahead. Yes the tooth hurts but it does not necessarly mean an INFECTION. I would strongly recommend a call to Zac's regular DDS with a detailed description of the symptoms (does he have a metal taste in his mouth? Does he have any drainage from the site? When flossed is there heavy bleeding...remember saliva and blood looks like ALOT of BLOOD. Is the area hot to the touch? Does Zac have an ear ache?) and let him/her make the call. It is not wise to take medications esp. antibiotics w/o a Dr.'s instructions.

Anita M. Miracle RDH
Waterloo, NY
Captain SV "Wombat"

April 9, 2009 at 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick question for Zac: Just looking on Google Earth at your coordinates and Natasza's. She's only about 220 miles SW from you. You've got an SSB and she's got an SSB. Can you chat to each other while you while the days away? Kind of cool to keep each other company chatting while both in the middle of nowhere. A friendly voice versus some schreeching loud music or DVD for sure.

How does that exactly work? Is there an open channel you can call out to anyone out there? How about other boats (yachts) how does one go about calling out to anyone out there? Just pick up the mic and yell yoo hooo anyone out there wanna chat :-)

April 9, 2009 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Kaye Kittrell said...

Zac, I've been keeping track of you since I heard about you last fall (I'm beyond impressed with your acheivements!), and a couple weeks ago signed up for blog posts. I'm a mom of an 18 year old and he was advised to have his wisdom teeth removed by his orthodontist, but two days before the surgery I learned about Dr. Raymond Silkman, a homeopathic dentist in Santa Monica. I postponed the surgery. We saw him today, and in light of your mentioning your wisdom teeth, thought I'd share. He believes the teeth are living organs connected to various organs and tissues in the body and to keep them if at all possible. You can find an article by him at The Weston Price Foundation website: Looks like you've gotten a lot of advice about your wisdom teeth already. It may be too late to save them if you are in great pain, but thought I would bring this info to your attention. I'm glad I learned about it. Wishing you the best on your journey, Kaye K.

April 9, 2009 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger STEVE B said...


Sorry to hear about your tooth. Might be the reason for the headaches?

Here is what you need to do: Find your pair of Ice Skates. I can't imagine why you wouldn't carry a pair but if you do not have a pair on board you'll need to look for a Fed-ex package floating around or by your boat. Find a good sized rock and using the end of the ice skate blade bash it against your tooth until it flies out. You'll likely pass out after this so make sure you are tied off and have something soft to fall onto.

If you can hold on for Grenada you might be able to find someone to hold the skate for you.

All joking aside I know that your tooth can be quite painful and being at sea heightens your isolation. Praying the situation improves dramatically.

Birmingham, AL

April 10, 2009 at 6:12 AM  
Anonymous Trevor Leslie, London UK said...


"Here is what you need to do: Find your pair of Ice Skates. I can't imagine why you wouldn't carry a pair but if you do not have a pair on board you'll need to look for a Fed-ex package floating around or by your boat. Find a good sized rock and using the end of the ice skate blade bash it against your tooth until it flies out. You'll likely pass out after this so make sure you are tied off and have something soft to fall onto.

If you can hold on for Grenada you might be able to find someone to hold the skate for you."



April 21, 2009 at 2:47 AM  

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