Into the Falklands

January 1st, 2010

We sailed from Ushuaia at 18h30 on the evening of 30 December, setting out into the Beagle Channel in excellent conditions with flat seas.  Earlier in the day, while the expedition participants were away on a tour of the Tierra del Fuego National Park, I had visited the ship for a handover from the doctor on the previous charter.  He was a gentlemanly New Zealander, and an anaesthetist to boot: we immediately got along well.  The medical facilities aboard the MV Polar Star are more basic than those with which I am familiar.  There is a small treatment room that fits one examination bed, a rack of gas tanks, a small bar fridge and numerous cupboards along the walls.  A large operating light on a boom is tied to the bulkhead to prevent it swinging; anaesthesia is via syringe or a swift swing of the portable oxygen bottle (*cheeky grin*).  Medical stocks are basic but cover the most important items.  I found a â??recentâ?? inventory â?? July 2009.  There is an AED but no defibrillator, no radiographic equipment, and sterilisation is by boiling items in the kitchen cooker.  Itâ??s expedition medicine in action. A few extra items needed to be acquired for the pharmacopeia, and so I walked into town with Craig Poore, the expedition historian.   We strolled the length of Ushuaia to find a specific large supermarket, with directions to walk until we were sure it was too far, and then just a little bit more. This proved to be an accurate description.  On returning, I ventured into one of the pharmacies in the main road armed with a letter of accreditation, medical qualifications, medical board registration, and several other forms of ID.  I introduced myself as the shipâ??s doctor, and proceeded to acquire a large bag-load of prescription drugs.  I walked out with my loot without writing a script or even showing proof that I was indeed a purveyor of the arts of Aesculapius and Panacea rather than a back-street meth maker.  Viva Argentina!

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An unusual approach to car security

December 30th, 2009

…but nonetheless successful; they barked their heads off when I approached closer.  Ushuaia continues to entertain.

MV Polar Star

December 30th, 2009

We’re about to embark, but I managed to snap this picture of the Polar Star at her berth being refuelled and prepared.  Now, to sea!

MV Polar Star at her berth in Ushuaia