Aha - you thought I was getting scared of The Big Row, didn't you?! No, when I talk of cold feet I'm speaking literally, not metaphorically....
I spent much of this morning being gently broiled in an oversized oven, before having various limbs immersed in cold water and photographed with a thermal camera - all to evaluate whether I suffered any long-term damage as a result of my mild frostbite while dogsledding in Minnesota last January.
The good news is that the frostbite has probably not caused any permanent after-effects.
The not so good news is that having constantly wet feet for the first month of the Atlantic crossing probably HAS permanently affected their ability to warm up, so I will need to take very good care of them in the future.
Dr Howard Oakley at the Institute of Naval Medicine was able to offer me some excellent advice that should help me ward off future problems. But it was sobering to find that I am not as indestructible as I like to think I am. Maybe that comes with the territory when you turn 40...
For the record, here is Dr Oakley's diagnosis:
Thank you for attending my clinic today - it was a great pleasure to talk to you, and hopefully we will have been of help to you.
You have a history of at least two episodes in which I think you may have sustained some form of cold injury. The first was when rowing the Atlantic, when your feet sound to have been wet for many days, although perhaps not classically as cold as would normally be expected. The second more overt injury was mild superficial frostbite of your fingers, when sledging in North America last winter. That resulted in local
blistering that has since healed well.
Infra-red thermography of your right hand is generally within normal limits, with a small discrete patch at the tip of your middle finger that was slightly cooler than it should be; this coincides with an area of previous blistering.
Infra-red thermography of your feet showed that you have a mild to moderate degree of cold sensitisation, which is consistent with your history.
Thermal sensory thresholds were normal in your hands, but your warm threshold in your feet was grossly abnormal. This pattern is characteristic of old non-freezing cold injury of the feet.
I think that you have had an old non-freezing cold injury ('trench foot', 'immersion limb', etc.) of your feet, probably when rowing in the past, and a mild superficial frostbite of your fingers. Whilst your fingers are completing a very good recovery and should not prove a particular problem in the future, I am more concerned that you could suffer from cold feet that grow worse with further cold or wet exposure.
We discussed various measures that you could consider to help your feet (and hands), including arm/leg warmers, creams such as Sudocrem (UK), Bag Balm (US dairy farming), and Assos cycling short cream (bum). You
will clearly benefit from intervals in which you can give your feet a break from wet conditions and care for them, if possible.
I will be very happy to see you again if you ever wish, and wish you every success in your future endeavours.
Very best regards,
Dr Howard Oakley"
I also liked Dr Oakley's other doctor's orders: hot footbaths and a tot of whisky.... but unfortunately it is apparently not available on prescription!
So the search is on for "Bag Balm" - any dairy farmers out there?
OK, it's time I came clean. I've been deliberately keeping fairly quiet about my departure date, as we are taking a low-key approach this year after the events of last summer. We don't want to build it up to a fever pitch, only for it all to come to a premature end after just ten days...
But a number of people have been asking, via email and the comments, when I plan to set out again on the Pacific. So for regular readers of this website, here is the latest Estimated Time of Departure:
I will be on standby to depart from May 15th, and hope to be out at sea by the end of June at the latest. The actual date and place of departure depend totally on the weather.
My weatherman, Rick Shema of Weatherguy.com, will be scanning the whole western coast of the US, searching for a window of at least 3 days, and preferably more, of a let-up in the prevailing onshore winds. When he tells me where and when, I will drop everything, hitch up my boat to my car, wave goodbye to my friends, and go.
It could be as little as a few hours notice - but hopefully I will have a few minutes to make an announcement on this website.
I will also make sure I add a final posting to Twitter.com, where I regularly post one-line updates on what I am doing. If you haven't explored Twitter, take a look. You can start Twittering yourself, and/or follow my status updates - either on Twitter itself (my username is rozsavage) or by becoming my friend on Facebook (again, search for me as rozsavage).
If all this talk of Twittering and Facebook is gobbledegook to you, don't worry. Just keep following this site!
[photo: last year's departure from Crescent City]
This video would be hilarious if it wasn't so painfully true... Unfortunately too many people regard the ocean as being "outside the environment" - and out of sight is out of mind.
A contact in Pago Pago, American Samoa, sent me this link to a video of their longboats in action. American Samoa may well be on my itinerary as I cross the Pacific - and these longboats look like something I have to try. I bet they go FAST - or a lot faster than my usual sedate 2 knots, anyway!!