The days are getting warmer and warmer here on this little island in the Caribbean Sea and on days with no breeze Tate can only cool himself down by a swim in the blue green waters that surround the boat. This is one of the main reasons he likes spearfishing so much. Not only is it great exercise and feeds us VERY well it cools him, who is naturally very hot natured, down and makes him more comfortable in the evenings. Day after day he goes into the water for up to 4 hours at a time…bringing home a good amount of fish for dinner and the freezer. We should have known however that these days of prosper wouldn’t last. Under the surface something was brewing, a revolt of sorts from the fish he constantly hunts. They had finally had enough and rallied together to put an end to Tate’s reign of terror.
If you have a weak stomach turn back now for what awaits are uncensored details and photos of the carnage.
After being in Providencia’s anchorage for two weeks all alone we awoke one morning to find company by the name of S/V Seawolf. Aboard were You Tube Vloggers Captain Dominic (Dom), his beautiful first mate (and 6 month pregnant wife) Sarah and their wolf like canine “Bear”. Seeing how they were in their late 20’s and had a cruising story similar to ours we became fast friends. During the week we shared the anchorage we showed them our favorite haunts on land and also in the sea. Dom is a bow and arrow deer hunter back home in Philadelphia, PA so it was only natural for him to gravitate to spearfishing.
After giving it a go with Tate’s “starter” gun he was hooked and wanted to upgrade his Hawaiian Sling for something with a little more OOMPH. While Providencia is beautiful and the sea is plentiful the land doesn’t have many shops in which to buy things. It’s NOTHING like back home or even in Mexico. Luckily we kept in touch (via WhatsApp) with the owner, David, of the Beuchat store 50 miles away in San Andres, CO and I was able to negotiate a deal over text (Spanish only…I <3 Google Translate app) for Dom's new speargun. Tate and I also ordered some lead dive weights at half the cost they are sold for in the US and everything was sent by avion (plane) the next day. No tax and shipping is always free. David ROCKS!
This day was particularly hot. Still and sunny the excitement was at an all time high on the dinghy ride back to the boat. Just like when Tate got his new speargun, Dom just HAD to get in the water RIGHT AWAY and in ten minutes flat both guys had departed and taken to the sea. They spent all afternoon fishing for lobsters and Snappers and many hours later came by to show off their catch. It was an impressive one and plans were made for dinner as Tate grabbed his filet knife from our boat and went with Dom to clean the fish on the spacious dinghy behind S/V Seawolf.
Spirits were high as both men cleaned their fish until just when they were finished an unsettling hissing noise came up from the 10′ inflatable. “I think it’s leaking!” Dom said. Sarah got some dish soap and the men rubbed the dinghy down hoping to spot the air leak before the sun went down. As Tate as washing down the front side his right hand slipped on the soap and accidentally landed right on the tip of his very sharp and partially hidden filet knife near the seat.
In an instant his pinky went numb and blood was EVERYWHERE. It was like a scene out of a horror movie with blood squirting out and bloody hand prints contrasting on the white hypalon. Quick to react Tate applied pressure to the wound just under his pinky finger on his palm and was able to stop most of the bleeding. The knife had just been used to clean fish so the puncture wound was no doubt full of who knows what from the fish and the saltwater. Aboard Seawolf his hand was washed thoroughly first with soap, then with hydrogen peroxide and finally with alcohol before being bandaged with Neosporin.
Upon Tate’s arrival back to our boat I could tell something wasn’t right. He explained in detail what had happened and proceeded to show me the wound. It was pretty gruesome, essentially a stab wound roughly an inch deep that went sort of diagonally at 45 degrees into the hand, luckily not straight into the deep parts of his hand. The knife hadn’t hit bone but his pinky was numb and tingling, however not completely numb. Pieces of (ICK!) stringy meat like substance were hanging out of the opening. After he had fully dried from his hours in the sea I bandaged him up again and off to bed he went. The next day we took a look again at his hand.
He didn’t know exactly how deep the knife had gone and I could only see about 1/2″ of the way inside so we took out our spare filet knife and estimated the depth based on the incision size. It appears the knife had to have gone in 3/4″ to 1 1/4″. Quite Deep.
On the third day of changing the dressing the wound was looking much better, though he had to painfully push pieces of meat back inside the cut to aid the healing.
Since all of the circumstances regarding this accident were about as bad as they could get (saltwater and a dirty filet knife) he decided it would be prudent to start a round of antibiotics. While we have about 60 Cipro pills onboard we checked with the pharmacy on shore and found, unbelievably to me, that you could just walk in, without a doctor’s visit or prescription and buy 10 Ciprofloxania pills for 5,000 Colombian pesos, or roughly $1.66 USD. We bought 20 not wanting to deplete our stores too much since we are headed to the San Blas for many months after here.
We debated for some time on what to do about this injury. Should he go to the hospital onshore and have it looked it or should we just treat it at home and save the money and hassle (and possible secondary infection) of going to a hospital. He decided to treat it at home, not feeling like the hospital could do anything more for it than he could do here onboard. Tate is extensively trained in first aid dating back to his time as a Boyscout, later as an Eagle Scout and in practice as a guide on the Nantahala and Acoe Rivers and the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. So for now as long as it’s not infected and is healing nicely he will baby it at home.
Stitches or superglue with a puncture this deep is risky as an infection could brew from deep within so he’s letting it heal from the inside out and daily changes his dressings which consist of a bandaid with neosporin, medical tape on top of that and an Ace bandage around his hand to prevent anything from getting underneath. He isn’t using his hand at all to give the area the maximum ability to recoup. After the inside mends up nicely he may superglue the exterior to keep any bacteria from entering. A needle prick on the pinky finger tip shows that no major nerve damage was done but the finger is still tingling and numb so there might be some peripheral nerve damage, that can and hopefully will heal.
Coincidentally this is the SECOND time we were gearing up to leave a place (Isla Mujeres and my kidney infection) when some malady has befallen the good ship Sundowner. We have enjoyed our time here very much and are finally ready to set sail for the San Blas. In fact we were thinking we’d leave this weekend, however now we can’t. We have to wait on the progress of healing as sailing is a very hand intensive activity not to mention salty with all of the ropes, tiller steering and anchor raising. Our Visa here is up in five days and we are still hoping to check out then and set sail for Panama next weekend at the latest.
In the meantime Tate can no longer spearfish. Did the fish conspire to put an end to Tate’s hay days? Perhaps they were the cause of the mysterious air leak or through some kind of Caribbean voodoo caused the unhappy fate. Whatever the cause we’ll never know for sure, but for now and perhaps forever the fish of Providencia will be safe from Tate the Impaler.