Doc Nigel’s Page

Page last updated February 2017

On 24th January we were privileged to be given an extremely informative talk by Dr Nigel Pearce. He is a retired GP who is an active member of Parkstone Yacht Club and has run Yachtmaster First Aid Courses.

Click Here          to go to the flip chart sheets and some additional brief notes.

Cold Water Shock

Drowning and Hypothermia

Wounds and Dressings

First Aid Kit

Who wants to be a skipper?

Useful forms

The sea surface water that crashes onto our beaches is warmer ( 15 degrees) than the deeper water (10 degrees), and is further heated by the sand. A rough sea will mix these waters, reducing the surface temp to 11 degrees.

Sea Survival: Anyone who has undergone any training stands a much higher chance of survival. In the 1979 Fastnet Race, some took to a life raft too early. They died, their yacht survived.

In WW2 30,000 survived Naval sinkings and reached liferafts. But 2/3 of these subsequently died of hypothermia, drowning, dehydration. Drinking seawater kills.

South, the Shackleton saga — they survived because of planning, preparation, superb leadership and huge seamanship skills. Apart from Shackleton, most successful survival sagas have been in tropical waters.

Tony Bullimore survived.

He was:-

  • calm and carefully analysed.
  • determined and had a will to survive.
  • a touch tough!

He had:-

  • previous training and knowledge of survival requirements.
  • experience and a survival suit.

And of course, his EPIRB worked, and the Australian Navy reacted and acted magnificently.

In the Estonia disaster — the survivors were mostly male aged 15-44. Sea temp 12 degrees.


  • panicked.
  • lacked the strength with their numb hands to get into a raft.
  • survival packs could not be opened.

There is no such thing as an accident at sea. They are all incidents with causes.

Some hypothermic survivors of WW2 died in their rescue boats from overenthusiastic rewarming. All the blood, perhaps thickened by dehydration rushes to the warmed skin, blood pressure drops, then collapse and even death.

We should mostly rewarm from the inside to the outside i.e. from our own internal metabolism. Local heat sources can cause collapse. A warm dry environment, loads of clothes and blankets, including head, hands, feet. Constant company and care. Constant monitoring. Food and drink.

A hot shower for an exhausted, properly hypothermic victim can lead to collapse. In the life raft, the leader at the beginning is often not the leader by the end.

In the disaster situation, there is often initial disbelief, then panic. But the prepared, trained, determined, calm, fit, strong individual, with the right clothing and equipment, and some luck, might well survive.

Historically (Scott et al) suffered from sweating into their clothes. These damp clothes lost their insulation. The sleeping bags became similarly wet and even froze. Today the modern quality breathable clothing really helps.

Dinghy sailors’ gloves have practically no insulation properties. They are there to protect the hand from wear and tear on the ropes.

Sunglasses protect the eyes. Broad brimmed hats protect the face. Use SPF 30 -50.

Even a small degree of dehydration impairs performance. Look after yourself and your mates. Food and drink are great morale boosters as well as performance enhancers.

The Skpipper must be an inspiring and caring leader. He must know about his crew’s health. He or she carries – enormous responsibilities. His boat, equipment, training, practise and seamanship must earn him their respect.

Man is the supreme land animal. Sailing exposes us to the elements, especially the cold, hostile water. Respect It. Take care of yourselves and your mates and charges. Maintain and use your safety equipment. You will not be able to comprehend the instructions in an emergency. Keep a good look out all around all the time.

Poole Harbour and sailing is fantastic. Plan, prepare and when appropriate, get out and enjoy it.

75 Years of PYRA

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