"Sea Ulcers!"

The harsh nature of the Lake Eyre environment is the adventurers biggest challenge. Heat stroke and fatigue with associated errors in judgement have caused death in the area. Dehydration and exposure are real problems with the only shade for most of the day being the sail of the yacht. Even then it is not always possible to use that shade.

Clothing should include a long sleeved spray jacket and hood with large pockets for radio, sunscreen, munchies and insect repellent. A peaked "foreign legion" type sailing cap. Loose quick drying shorts are preferred, they may need rinsing with precious water daily. Tight fitting bathers soon cause a painful chafe when salty.

A comprehensive but compact first aid kit is mandatory. Help may be days away.

Spongy Feet

A condition which effects everyone who has waded in the Lake for more than a few hours. The condition will not be noticed until you have left the Lake and are showering back in civilisation. Your feet will puff and wrinkle as they absorb water due to the lack of natural protective oils in the skin - the salt water has leached these oils out. This leaching of oils in finger and toe nails will make them soft or brittle and easily torn.

Onion Toe

For those who get the job of pushing and walking craft in muddy salty water or salty beaches "Onion Toe" can be a problem. The skin, particularly on the underside of the big toe, exfoliates like an onion. The problem becomes serious when the skin peels back to raw flesh with the possibility of a sea ulcer. A plastic bag over the feet can help in the water. Protect the toes with shoes/thongs when out of the water - Dettol and antiseptic cream at night. Onion toe takes up to a month of care to heal after leaving the Lake.

Sea Ulcers

The most prevalent condition treated on the Lake occurs as the result of a small scratch becoming infected due to the very active bacteria found in warm saline waters. The result is a sea ulcer, a difficult condition to treat in this environment.

Treatment consists of clean, dry and sterilise as frequently as possible. In the evening after the last item is retrieved from the boat remove any pus and disinfect the ulcer with neat Dettol. Allow to dry in the air and keep clean but not bandaged during the night. When sailing wash the ulcer with fresh water as soon as you're under way. Dry and then squirt antiseptic powder into the wound. Try to keep out of the water as much as possible.

This treatment normally holds the ulcer at bay but it often doesn't heal until one week after the adventure has ended.


On a brighter note we have found that the extreme conditions will kill large papillomas on the soles of the feet after only four days adventuring!