This offshore drilling has nothing to do with petroleum but the kind of drilling service practiced by dentists. It’s the story about Dr. Victor S. Stime and how he combined his passion for boating with a retirement dental practice that brings dental services to remote villages in Southeast Alaska.
After being diagnosed with a deteriorating heart valve, Dr. Stime sold his dental practice of 30 years in Spokane, Washington. After a successful operation which replaced the failing heart valve, he wanted to use his skills as a dentist and find a way to give back. Dr. Stime decided to combine business with pleasure and outfit his newly acquired Ranger Tug as a dental office. Providing his services to those who lived in the remote villages of Southeast Alaska was a perfect fit.
The Offshore Drilling Business: Mobile Dentistry in Southeast Alaska
Dr. Stime seasonally tours eight communities in Southeast Alaska. He usually departs Bellingham in July on his Ranger Tug 31 to start the cruise to Ketchikan, where he begins his schedule of appointments. His website and Facebook page include his schedule and invite patients to make their appointments based on his scheduled destinations. For the 2018 season, his route includes stops at the villages and towns of Ketchikan, Myers Chuck, Wrangle, Thoms Place, Thorne Bay, Metlakatla, and Coffman Cove. The destinations on his circuit range in size from Thoms Place with ten people to Ketchikan with 13,000.
Dr. Stime’s Ranger Tug is a fairly standard production model Ranger 31 outfitted with state-of-the-art dental equipment, including a digital x-ray machine. A mini-compressor provides power for the dental equipment, and an autoclave is used for sterilizing instruments. A dental chair is installed in a canvas-enclosed area on the Tug’s aft cockpit, and patients can expect the extra benefit of a gentle rocking motion. Electrical power comes from an onboard generator, or shore power (when available). Sorry, there is no waiting room with out-of-date magazines. Appointments are scheduled ahead of time, and there’s no waiting.
Patients include both children and adults. Dr. Stime’s services include exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings, fluoride treatment, sealants, and extractions. He accepts patients with insurance and Medicaid. For patients without insurance, he accepts cash and credit card. Sorry, no fish as payment.
2018 is Dr. Stime’s second season in Southeast Alaska. His startup of Offshore Drilling in 2017 came at the right time. For the past 38 years, Dr. Fred Bache has been bringing his dental services to Southeast Alaska on his vessel/dental office and is reportedly retiring soon. Dr. Stime now carries on the tradition and much-needed service.
Mobile Dentistry Inspiration
Dr. Stime was inspired to start Offshore Drilling Dentistry by Dr. Fred Bache, an Aberdeen, Washington dentist who has been visiting rural Alaskan communities on his boat the JENNY-B. Fred and Jenny Bache have been touring Southeast Alaska since 1969 in their purpose-built boat and dental office from a generation ago.
Dr. Victor Stime, DDS is a graduate of the University of Washington, and his private practice in Spokane of 30 years provided him with the necessary experience, which included filling more than 50,000 teeth and extracting more than 10,000 teeth. Dr. Stime’s nephew, Luke Stime, travels with him and serves as a dental assistant. Luke helps keep all the mechanical systems running smoothly on the Ranger Tug. Luke is also connected to the maritime industry. You can find him most of the year in Tofino, BC where he is the Assistant Manager at the Tofino Harbour Authority docks.
Dentistry and boating may seem like an unusual mix, but it works. When not treating patients, Dr. Stime is out in Alaskan waters with his Ranger Tug fishing for salmon or halibut.
~ Leonard & Lorena Landon