Emboldened by the lack of response to his first PBO practical article, Dave pledges to reveal how to remove your own appendix at sea

I’m elated, ecstatic, bursting with pride at the amazing response to my first-ever proper practical article published in last month’s PBO.

For as far as I can tell it seems to have passed off without any major recriminations, consequences, legal action or personal injury.

Result. Of course, I may be jumping the gun, cos as I write the September issue of the mag has only been out one day, and it may be that you haven’t made it to page 94 yet. But early signs look promising.

Indeed, I’m so encouraged by the total lack of comment about how two friends, Mark Berry and David Longfield, reinforced my chainplates while I drank tea – certainly the most practical way of tackling any practical project (but they’re mine, you can’t borrow them) – that I’ve decided to undertake what must be the ultimate PBO practical: to whit and namely, how to remove your own appendix at sea, which has been prompted by editor David Pugh’s recent op, from which he’s now fully recovered.

From the 1960s onwards, when people first started to go sailing, this was the subject of a raging debate.

Fact one – a real quote from a real book: ‘Appendicitis: This is the great bugaboo that frightens everyone. Many transatlantic yachtsmen’ – women hadn’t been invented then – ‘have an elective appendectomy in order to avoid any possibility of trouble.’*

You can tell I’ve researched this: see appendix (*) at end for source.

For all of life’s information needs, my first port of call is always the brilliant online Sailfish Forum which tells you everything you need to know, from tax returns and pension advice to loft extensions, greenfly, Brexit and even Sailfishes.

Within an instant of sending out my enquiry, I began to get feedback. ‘Sorry, I’m using mine at the moment, I’ll ask my wife,’ said one.

‘Try eBay,’ said another.

These rather missed the point, because the whole point about an appendix is that you don’t need it. But within minutes, Peter Stratford came up with a link to the remarkable story of Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov, who removed his own appendix while stranded on an Antarctic expedition in 1961. That’s fact two.

But still I thirsted for more knowledge so I went to the Queen’s Head, which happened to be a smart move as it turned out that virtually everyone in the hallowed ‘back bar’ had removed their own appendix at one time or another, either at sea or on a unicycle.

Quite a few, including boatyard owner Jim, had removed both of theirs, usually with a shackle key and serving mallet while biting on a leather strop and using Stockholm tar for anaesthetic. We’re tough in Maldon.

Big-hearted Jim even offered to remove mine with his bare hands – right there and then on the bar – but without the Stockholm tar as it’s quite pricey.

At which point Landlady Viv, who’s known for being firm but frightening, intervened and suggested the Jolly Sailor. It’s a very giving
community round here and other Queen’s regulars soon offered to remove other body parts and organs I wasn’t using such as spine and backbone, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and brain.

This gave racer Tommy an idea – you know Tommy, he’s so racy and stylish he’s the only man outside the ’Amble to have a jacket made out of old Kevlar sails with the battens still in.

As is his way, he cheerily sauntered up to a ‘random’, as we call people we’ve never seen before, offered him a pint, measured his biceps with callipers and said: ‘Fancy coming racing on Sunday?’

The lad looked impressionable, so was both swayed and swaying by just two pints, at which point Tommy chimed: ‘Remember, old bean, weight is the enemy. Be a good chap and whip your appendix out before Sunday. See you on the slip, 5am.’

I hope that’s been helpful.

Coming soon, the PBO DIY Doctor tackles bladders, diaphragms and stern glands (Mark and David are doing that one).

*Appendix – Sell Up and Sail, Bill and Laurel Cooper

As published in the October 2016 issue of PBO, on sale from today, Thursday 8 September.