LETTERS lays out the situation pretty clearly, making a difficult subject easy to understand. We had a very pleasant and informative conversation with Rodney Grim, the head tech guy at Icom. There are only two things we found a little funky with his explanation. First, the business about the 802 clipping problems usually being associated with boats that use backstays for antennas. Profligate doesn't have a backstay, let alone a backstay antenna. Even more troubling is that our 802 — as well as others — have worked fine, and then in as little as 30 minutes began to suffer from severe clipping problems. Are we to believe that our SWR suddenly turned much worse in 30 minutes? ⇑⇓EAR EBOLA PREVENTION I read about the problems — "ear ebola" — that surfer/ sailor Liz Clark of the Santa Barbara-based Swell has had with her ears. I'm not a surfer, but as a diver I used to have a similar problem with my ears. But I haven't had a problem since I adopted the following two practices: 1) I irrigate my ears every month with a solution of water (75%) and hydrogen peroxide (25%). To do this well, you need an ear syringe — available in just about every pharmacy — for sucking up the solution and then squirting it into your ears. Let the solution sit in your ear for a few minutes, during which time you'll hear some fizzing as the hydrogen peroxide attacks the wax in your ear. Repeat this about four or five times, then vigorously irrigate and flush your ear with warm water. It’s easiest to do this in the shower. This process also eliminates wax build-up in the ear. 2) After each dive, I fill each of my ears with a solution that is 50/50 white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. I let it sit for five minutes, my head cocked so the solution fills one ear at a time. The vinegar is kind of smelly, but it dissipates in a short time. The theory behind this is that the vinegar alters the pH in your ear, killing all the nasty bugs feasting on the poopy saltwater in your ear. The rubbing alcohol makes your ear dry faster and more completely. It’s the continuous 'water-logging' that causes the cells lining the ear to swell, which opens tiny spaces on the lining so bacteria can start festering. Following the two steps I outlined above each time you come out of the water might seem a little onerous, but the results are well worth it. David Bereznai Planet Earth David — A surfing mishap blew a hole in our left eardrum so many years ago that it prevented us from being shipped off to Vietnam. We were told never to swim again, but found that doing something similar to what you suggest kept our brain lining from repeatedly getting infected. Nonetheless, since neither of us is a doctor, we highly recommend that Clark — and anyone else thinking of trying such cures — clear them with a doctor first. After all, what might be good for one kind of ear problem may be bad for another.
In a typical month, we receive a tremendous volume of letters. So if yours hasn't appeared, don't give up hope. We welcome all letters that are of interest to sailors. Please include your name, your boat's name, hailing port, and, if possible, a way to contact you for clarifications. By far the best way to send letters is to email them to email@example.com. You can also mail them to 15 Locust, Mill Valley, CA, 94941, or fax them to (415) 383-5816.
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• April, 2007
The April 2007 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.