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O-P (Cruiser's Dictionary)


OXALIC ACID - An organic acid, good for removing rust stains. Can be obtained in powdered form from paint stores (it is used to bleach and clean raw timber). Will only dissolve completely in hot water.
- Rehydrate - 1 Tbsp. oxalic acid to 2 cups water. Works slowly, not as active as muriatic acid or phosphoric acid - safer on fiberglass. See "Stain Remover" for a more efficient way of using it. Store in non-metallic container.
- Precautions: Although the skin can be burned by the acid, this acid can also damage internal tissues through absorption through the skin without burning the skin (as does hydrofluoric acid). With no physical warning of the danger, I suggest that you use rubber gloves. We have used oxalic acid for years with no injuries of problems. Also be careful and don't inhale fumes or powder. Never boil the solution.


PANADOL® See "acetominophyn"

PASSPORT - Some countries require foreigners to carry the original of their passport at all times (Ecuador, Colombia). Most countries we have visited required our passport for identification in order to get a cash advance; several asked for it to cash traveler's checks, (once) to convert cash into local currency. Be prepared.

PARACETOMOL See "acetominophyn"

PETROL - Gasoline

PHARMACEUTICALS - "The Offshore Doctor" (see "Books") has a good list of drugs recommended for cruising yachts. For prescription antibiotics, don't let your doctor get away with not providing you with a prescription and good information on the use of them. Do not ruin your stay in a beautiful anchorage or island because of a strep infection that can't be treated locally. Lots of stories about this! In Southeast Asia, beware of counterfeit drugs in Thailand and Indonesia - a serious problem. According to a report in TIME Magazine, the only places in Southeast Asia where one can be sure of getting proper pharmaceuticals is in Hong Kong and Singapore. We cannot prove it, but we know of people who have found antibiotics that they bought in Malaysia to be ineffective, and there is some reason to believe that it was a counterfeit drug.

Appendix - TIME Magazine article on counterfeit drugs:

TIME, January 26, 1998 Vol. 151, No. 3
Swallowing Bitter Pills! Fake and adulterated medicines are posing health risks greater than the diseases they're meant to cure, By NISID HAJARI

During one of the meningitis outbreaks that periodically ravage the lands bordering the Sahara, a team of Belgian doctors trekked into Niger's remote Madoua district in 1995 to deliver a potentially life-saving vaccine. They inoculated thousands of villagers before noticing imperfections in the drug, which had been donated by neighboring Nigeria. The transparent solution did not always dissolve correctly, and strands of hair floated in several vials. "When we first received the shipment, I joked that it was probably fake," recalls group leader Dr. Ginette Marchant. Tests proved her horribly right: the "vaccine" consisted of little more than saltwater. Marchant guesses that at least 300 of the villagers who received the placebo eventually contracted meningitis and died, while an additional 60 were handicapped for life. Such tragedies have become an epidemic unto themselves.

Experts estimate that up to half the medicines now sold in sub-Saharan Africa could be fake, and the problem neither begins nor ends at that continent's shores. "Africa is a dumping ground for counterfeit drugs produced in Asia," says Dr. Harvey Bale Jr., director-general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association in Geneva. From Karachi to Beijing the production and distribution of contaminated medicine has developed into a virtual shadow industry-- a network as amateurish as the individual con who refills discarded syringes with sugar water, and as professional as the massive chemical factory that labelled barrels containing deadly diethylene glycol, commonly used in lacquer and anti-freeze, as harmless glycerine. (That 1996 shipment, thought to have originated in Dalian, China, made its way into a cough syrup that killed more than 80 children in Haiti.) The region's ill are regularly faced with medicines that contain substances ranging from chalk dust to fruit peels--"cures" that can be as deadly as the disease.

The extent of the contamination remains frustratingly difficult to pin down. The most dramatic indications of the threat are anecdotal--the Karachi woman killed by a brand-name, broad-spectrum antibiotic later found to contain talcum powder, or the Latin American man whose kidney transplant failed because the drug meant to prevent organ rejection was apparently a Chinese-made counterfeit.

Authorities in Asia's developing countries often lack the resources to track their sprawling pharmaceutical markets accurately: in India an estimated 26,000 companies produce licensed drugs. And, for their own reasons, both the larger drug companies and local governments shy away from publicizing fakes. Although Western health officials name mainland China as perhaps the world's largest producer of substandard medicines, Beijing insists that its inspectors found irregularities in only 29 out of more than 167,000 cases investigated last year.

Pakistani authorities claim that a mere 2% of the 20,000 drugs registered for sale nationwide are faulty. But private estimates are less reassuring. Dr. Kaleem Butt, head of the Pakistan Medical Association, thinks the proportion could be as high as 50%. Bale estimates that counterfeits make up at least 5% to 10% of the Asian market. Even those figures reflect only a fraction of the problem.

The definition of a counterfeit --medicine packaged to resemble a name-brand pharmaceutical-- can include both placebos and drugs deliberately made with the wrong dosage of active ingredient, as well as those that release that ingredient at the wrong rate. But the dangers that confront patients are even more varied. Across Mexico mysterious and poorly regulated generic brands fill pharmacy shelves; the companies listed as producers, using vague names like American Pharmaceutical, often turn out to be as fake as their products, and investigators suspect the drugs

PHOSPHORIC ACID - Many rust removers contain phosphoric acid. Good for removing rust stains in fibreglass (Oxalic acid is gentler). Can remove calcium build-up in water lines (but Muriatic acid is faster). (see also, "Hydrofluoric Acid", Oxalic Acid", "Muriatic Acid", "Vinegar")

POLARITY - Reverse polarity on your shoreside power will create severe electrolysis problems. Australia and US sell polarity detectors. Australia's is great, just plug into any outlet.

Friends of ours had been tied to a dock in American Samoa for several years when we arrived. When we tied up at the dock for a few days and hooked into the power supply, Peter found that the polarity was wrong for our boat. He made some adjustments in the wiring, and things were okay. I asked Peter what would happen if he hadn’t corrected the polarity. He said that because our boat had a good bonding system, not a whole lot, but we would go through our zincs really quickly as our boat behaved like a giant submerged battery. I mentioned it to our friends, but the skipper was an academic-type who hadn’t the faintest idea of electricity and its quirks, so he just shrugged. Several months later, as we were sitting in Tonga, he came up on the radio to tell us that he couldn’t use the engine, that his engine was leaking cooling water dramatically, and could somebody tow him into the anchorage. When he was settled in the anchorage an engine mechanic came out to look at his engine, which had its entire water pan corroded through. As they sat there, more things continued to deteriorate, and they decided to get hauled out on the railway haulout facility there. We were no longer in Tonga when they fired up their poor engine, but other friends reported on their progress in the 200 yards to the dock - “they made it to the dock just as their propeller fell off.” We can’t help but think that all their maintenance problems were the result of their unbonded boat suffering electrolysis from the miswired electrical supply. So beware!

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS - Some formerly British Islands in Caribbean, most Latin American countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Pacific Islands (except Vanuatu) do not require a doctor's prescription to sell pharmaceuticals. French countries require a doctor's prescription. Homeopathy is quite popular in France, so be forewarned that some doctors will prescribe homeopathic substances instead of antibiotics.

- Cheese: Hard cheeses can be waxed by dipping whole cheese in melted wax - will then not need refrigeration. Soft cheeses can be preserved for long periods by completely covering in vegetable oil and storing in sterilized glass jars. Refrigerated cheese lasts longer without mold if wrapped in a paper towel moistened with vinegar inside a container.
- Chillies: Whole, or chopped, with seeds removed, covered with vinegar in glass jar, will keep for 12 months or longer.
Note: do not let metal touch contents - take out whole chillies with wooden or plastic utensil.
Caution: Do not use bare hands to prepare large quantities of chillies - the oils do not wash away easily, and every time you wet your hands for days afterward they'll burn (obviously, this has happened to me!)
- Garlic: Will keep for months in a cool dry place if left in the bulb. Peeled and immersed in vegetable oil will keep even longer in refrigerator - oil good for cooking, salad dressings, but garlic is so universally found that this is rarely needed, unless you like the idea of garlic-flavored oil as I do.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables: If washed in a mild chlorine bleach or iodine solution (or use antibacterial tablets, such as Milton's, Steadiflow - which see) and allowed to dry completely before storing, will extend the life of most vegetables as well as kill nasties such as cholera, typhoid bacillus, and the parasite that causes amebic dysentery. To keep large quantities of onions and potatoes from bruising and sprouting, and from spreading mold throughout the batch, store in old white cotton socks. Each sock can hold up to 2 pounds of onions or potatoes. If one is bruised or goes bad, the sock absorbs the weeping so it doesn't spread to others so quickly, and is easily identified.

Many vegetables can be kept well without refrigeration by wrapping them in newsprint. Cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, turnips are good candidates for this.

PROVISIONING - Never, ever buy in quantity anything you haven't tried and like, even if the brand is a familiar US label. Check expiration ("use by" or "best if used by") dates on packages (remember, US is virtually the only country that places its month first in dates). Also, ask around - some countries' products are so variable in quality that trying one package will not be an adequate sample. US brand names are produced locally in various countries for that country's taste and budget. Some of them are significantly different in taste and quality from those found in the States, so beware. Do try other countries' products, especially France's - many are superior to US brands in both quality and convenience.

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