Thursday, July 28, 2011


So let's talk about the jellies for a bit. At about 11:30pm Monday we got Catalina Island, there I started to prepare for the swim. I asked the crew about the "wildlife" in the water. They started in with the standard about:
"Sharks are around, but we rarely see them, and they almost never..."
I butted in, "I am not that concerned with the sharks, I was thinking about jelly fish blooms."
"I see, yes, they are out there, not too bad, but a few are out there in the channel..."
Right, no further questions. So, there are tons, get ready you are going to get torn up. (For your edification a large collection of jellies can also be called a smack.)

Let's look at jellies. Invertebrates, been around for 500 million years or so (that is a long time, even if you are a mountain range!), many of them don't even have a central nervous system! o.k. let's not get all strung up in the taxonomy, age and one-ups-manship, these evil little mothers are indifferent and they tend to leave behind these horrible, stingy little f-ing things called nematocysts.
The stinging started one here, one there, about 30 minutes in. By hour two it was about every minute. Incidentally, this is where the water starts to get deep. Not Marianas trench deep, but 3,000 feet deep. You can fit a lot of big sharks in 3,000 feet, and a lot of jellies. By hour 4, regularly, I was getting 1 sting every 2 to 3 strokes. In a way this was good, it kept my mind off the more than half a mile of water below me. Some say, if you can't stand up, it doesn't matter how deep it is. Bollocks. A 110 foot long blue whale can't swim in 6 feet of water, and I can't stand there. A 20 foot shark might also have difficulty in 6 feet of water, but you can stack them more than 500 high in 3,000 feet of water.

I digress, back to the jellies, these insidious little bastards, were everywhere. The stings, one at a time, even added all together, they are not insurmountable, just really, really annoying - and uncomfortable. In the water any single sting only seemed to last about 5 or 10 minutes. What does the sting feel like? Well dear reader, I recently found had a few hours, while swimming, with nothing else to think about, (except much less desirable things like: the sharks, and the whales, and the 3,000 feet of abyss below me). During some of that time I devised a Catalina Channel Jellyfish Sting trainer kit. (The patent is already pending so don't try to claim this as you own.)

You will need:
two (2) car batteries
about 3 meters (total) of 12 gauge (A.W.G., or larger) electrical cable, in one short and two longer pieces
a sponge
a coping saw blade
and about a pint of sea water. (feel free to dissolve some large amount of table salt in water and use this instead, if you live away from the ocean, or are just too lazy to bring sea water home.)
one thick, strong, rubber band

Disclaimer: DO NOT try this at home. I accept no responsibility for anything you do. period. no matter what.

Safety: You must wear rubber insulated shoes, like sneakers, and safety glasses or goggles at all times.

1) Saturate the sponge with salt water.
2) Using the short electrical cable, connect the positive (+) terminal of one of the batteries to the negative (-) terminal of the other battery. This is now the "battery bank".
3) Attach the other two remaining cables to the free positive (+) and negative (-) terminals of the "battery bank".
4) While holding only the one cable, tightly wrap a portion of the long wire from the positive terminal of the "battery bank" around the coping saw blade.
5) Put the rubber band around your wrist like a bracelet, left if you are right handed, right if you are left handed.
6) Place, the now wet, sponge under the rubber band against your wrist, and afix the cable from the negative side of the "battery bank" to the wet sponge under the rubber band.
7) Now, gently drag the coping saw blade, connected to the "battery bank" along a sensitive portion of your arm, (teeth facing you, of course), on which you would like to practice getting stung.
8) Enjoy the jellies of the Catalina Channel!

Seriously, please, don't wire your self up to some car batteries, and get hurt. It is not the worst thing you have ever felt, but it does hurt, and it is not that fun - and 8 hours worth of it sucks. I probably got thousands if not tens of thousands of stings, and it was not fun.

I guess Dori and I have more in common than I thought.

So what to do about stings? you can do this almost any time after a sting, seconds to days. You need:

white vinegar (acetic acid),
a driver's license or credit card,
cortisone or stronger if you have it.

1) douse the region in vinegar
2) use the card (credit/license) and press hard, and scrape the area that has been stung, multiple times if needed. (Get the nematocysts out.) I always have gone in one direction, but I see no need to do that. but scrape hard. this hurts in sensitive areas.
3) more vinegar over the area.
4) rinse with soap and water, really just to get the vinegar off, (there is much medical debate about temperature, I would go with what is comfortable. Hot kills the stuff, cold prohibits toxin release...)
5) rub with cortisone of other steroid.

more happier stuff later, more good pictures of sunrise and dolphins. Taggart took lots of good pictures.

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