Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Outpatient Surgery

Wood gunwales are sorta like owning a pet.  You take upon yourself certain obligations, acknowledging your willingness to spend some time keeping the pet alive and healthy.  Aluminum gunwales are like owning a goldfish.  Wood gunwales are like owning a dog.  Constant vigilance is needed to avoid major issues.

Upper is abraded, lower is still sick.

These gunwales unfortunately were neglected for the better part of a season.  The boat is a demo boat I took under my stewardship, but we left it outside for while during the season, and I watched the wood gunwales deteriorate, cringing at the staining I knew would need to be loved up come the end of the season.

Well, the discoloration and potential for long-term fungus
 and/or mold was too high to do a simple office visit.  We needed outpatient surgery, a gunwalectomy, at least an outwalectomy, a complete ash epidermal abrasion, and application of Darren's not-so-secret gunwale elixir and antibiotic.

Certainly no gunwale transplant would be needed, I could reinstall the patient's original outwales after some treatment.  The inwales were not so bad so I treated them in place rather than do a complete gunwalectomy, the equivalent of removing the spine from a vertebrate.

So I got out the Porter-Cable Dermabrasion Device and some 150-grit and sanded down to clean flesh.  The gunwale on the left has been sanded and is ready for the elixir; the one on the right is still sick.

The warmer weather has really helped the elixir application procedure.  It spread on nicely and penetrated the wood easily, and I left it on overnight again to really allow the elixir to work its magic.  It seemed to work very well, and I decided as long as I had the outwales off I would do a full treatment, even coating the part of the outwale that is invisible and goes against the boat.  In time, this will pay off in spades, as that is often where water will trap itself and cause rot from the inside out.

After one treatment.

After one treatment, the patient is responding tremendously.  Another prophylactic treatment to really make sure we saturate these gunwales will definitely cure the patient, or at least put her in remission for a very, very long time.

It is a very satisfying to bring a patient back to health, but as a former public health professional, I feel a need to shout...PREVENTION, people!  Get some Ye Olde 'Baga Wood Elixir from your local paddlesport shop (actually, it's proprietary so you gotta get it from us) and soak your wood gunwales.  Don't make your canoe go through the hell and humiliation of being disassembled, stripped down and oiled.  By all means I'm a fan of the miracles of canoe medicine, being a practitioner for almost two decades, but I'd just as well see no patients and see lots of happy canoes on the water.

'Tis the season for getting your canoe ready for hibernation.  Don't put her to bed with dry gunwales.

Respectfully submuitted,

  Dr. Canoelover, Board Certified Canoe Surgeon


Silbs said...

Did you use a local anesthetic?

canoelover said...

How did I know you'd respond? :-)

Yep, I put some lidocaine in the linseed oil. :-)

Silbs said...

wouldn't pass on it. Now you can lay awake for about 5 years waiting for the statue of limitations to release you from the threat of malpractice. Canoes can be very vendictive you know.