notes longtime cruiser David Urbanic, can take advantage of the Veterans Administration clinics and hospitals in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. He's sailed the Caribbean with his wife, Judy, on Survival, a 1978 Bombay Explorer 45, for the past 15 years. Having worked as a nuclear-medicine technician in his pre-cruising life, he's spent a lot of time in hospitals.

"The V.A. services in the Caribbean are top quality and very affordable; they're free for some," says Urbanic. "The hospital in San Juan is clean, modern, and has excellent doctors. Whenever I need help, I always go there. I've never been disappointed. Its prescription plan is especially helpful. The most you have to pay is only $7."

No matter what type of care you choose, it's important to carry copies of your medical

records, says Brian Cheetham, M.D., a gastroenterologist practicing in the Virgin Islands. In the case of EKGs, chest X rays, bone scans, mammograms, and lab work, this can be especially important in establishing base lines. Records of tetanus shots and other inoculations should be kept up to date. Shots for yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid are available and recommended in many countries. Some clinics offer them for free. Bahía Redonda Marina, in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, organizes free inoculations for visiting cruisers a few times a year.

Dawn Baldacino, a nurse sailing with Mike, her husband, on Just Dessert, a Wauquiez 44, believes that taking responsibility for your health is of paramount importance while cruising. "The best cruising is in remote lo

Tom Lane and Stephanie J. Martin, who cruised the Caribbean with their dog, Clementine, attribute their change in thinking about health care abroad to positive experiences they had there.

cations where you and your family may be the only source of care around. First aid may save your life, so brush up and stay current," she advises. We've found the American Medical Association Family Medical Guide (4th edition, 2004; John Wiley & Sons) and The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th edition, 1999; John Wiley & Sons) to be excellent resources.

Before you start your cruise, check the Internet for up-to-date information on health care in the areas you intend to cruise. The U.S. Center for Disease Control's website ( publishes a yellow book of healthcare recommendations for travelers. Additionally, the CDC runs a hotline (877-FYI-TRIP) for international travelers. The International Asso ciation for Medical Assistance (www. gives information on needed inoculations and places to get help with emergency evacuations. Another comprehensive site is the one maintained by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs (

Treat healthcare as you would any other potential problem on the boat. Take plenty of spare parts (medicines and bandages). Get as much information as you can ahead of time. Use local knowledge and common sense. Most important, try to find the best care available; it will usually be far less expensive than you think.

Stephanie J. Martin and her husband, Tom Lane, are continuing their cruise of the Caribbean and toasting to good health.

Stephanie J. Martin and her husband, Tom Lane, are continuing their cruise of the Caribbean and toasting to good health.

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How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

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