news from our injured crew member
This is an email I recieved from Dave, our injured crew member, about a
week after we had to leave him in Port Elizabeth.
It is probably one of the greatest emails I’ve ever received, and therefore
I’m going to share:
Finally made it back to Singapore yesterday. It’s great to be back with
the family, but not a minute goes by that my mind isn’t on the boat
thinking about you guys. Katie, thanks for the email, please feel free to
share this with everyone. I’m typing up my sailing saga -based on 48hours
of racing and 24 hours as ballast. Surely there’s a clipper record to
claim there somewhere.
Didn’t get to see much of Port Elizabeth, but I’d like to go back. The
South Africans don’t have much of a reputation for hospitality in
Australia, probably because we’re so blinkered by the competitiveness of
our sports, but I’m setting out to rectify that. From the sea rescue guys,
to the paramedics, to the hospital staff, to the fellow in-mates in
hospital, there’s not enough good things I can say about the warmth of the
reception. Top people. The president of the local sailing club was
distracting nurses while his 2IC was slipping bottles of beer into my
hospital drawer. The second cousin of a father of one of the guys on Invest
Africa came by to check I was ok and make sure I would be able to get home.
The paramedics and the sea rescue guys all came back to visit. I left PE
with invitations to visit, promises to return and even more biltong.
The leg is on the mend - after a few too many days exposed to poking and
prodding, the right doctor showed up, stuffed everything back in the holes
where it belonged and sewed it all up. A grateful evolution from steak
tartar to pork roll. No damage at all to bones or arteries which has
stumped the medics, as line of sight from entry to exit points straight
through both tibia & fibia, but we’ve put that down to fortuitousness and I
consider myself very lucky. Bee’s great work meant there was no infection
and the hospital staff were all impressed that the wound was in such good
condition, please pass on my thanks to all contributors.
That 24 hours downstairs in the bunk was quite an emotional roller-coaster.
With plenty of time to reflect, its been interesting weighing up the way
the I reacted on an emotional level. Within about 30 minutes of being
downstairs I was apologising to Matt, with tears welling, for what felt at
the time like a massive betrayal to the boat and everyone on it.
Fortunately Matt quickly moved on to something far more important than
confessions of a flesh wound. The internal cycle of responses rolled on,
including guilt, disappointment, anger, reflection, analysis, but guilt
kept returning and underlining all the mental progressions. Lying
downstairs, feeling the motion of the boat get more and more aggressive and
hearing the din of the sea on the hull, broken by the crash and smash of
larger and larger waves, the inability to contribute in any way was very
disheartening. From where I lay in the galley I could see out the
hatchway, an anonymous hand around the port staysail winch, red sleeve and
just the side of a yellow foulies hood. There’d be an almighty boom
against the hull, I’d see the fingers grow whiter around the winch and then
the hand, the arm and the hood disappear under a crash of white water for 2
seconds or more. How that person stayed there after each successive wave
was beyond me. Still don’t know who it was. It was quite terrifying to
watch and there were times I expected to be joined downstairs.
What I think was a shock to everyone soon became the new normal. Turns out
- when matt teaches us about how to handle conditions in a 60 knot wind,
pay attention, because it will be coming sooner than you think.
Jo, thanks for that cushy little bunk, inboard, on the centre line, warm
and dry. Definitely the comfiest place on the boat to hear the storm get
progressively worse. It was through the night, watching you guys come and
go in god-awful conditions that I actually became more upbeat and that
sense of guilt dissipated. I was concerned about morale - horrible
conditions, short-handed, an injury, all things that can accumulate to have
a negative impact on a team. It was absolutely heart-warming to so quickly
be put on my back foot. First Sophie - “I’ve just been surfing at 20knots”
she beamed, then Chris, with a telling twinkle in his eye - “22 knots mate”
and later Maud, after battling days of seasickness - “actually, is very
exciting” in her lovely French accent. And progressively everyone repeated
a similar line - I’m tired, but its exciting. So for the record - I left
the boat incredibly uplifted by seeing the evolution of you all on board -
as a passive observer, the way you all developed in that 24 hours was
remarkable to see and a privilege to witness.
This was reinforced by the Sea Rescue team who picked me up. These are
very experienced seamen, who’ve encountered first hand all manner of
horrible weather on the cape. They didn’t know who we were or what we were
doing, only that they had to take someone ashore. As we watched you guys
sail back into the teeth of the gale (more tears on my part), they asked
where you were headed. When I told them ‘Australia’, there was a long
pause as they all stared at you on the stern until someone broke the
silence saying “that’s f…k..g hardcore”.
And it really is. So I’m over my guilt, because you guys are fkg hardcore.
I’m just envious. Much as I love being back with my family, I want to be
out there finishing this leg with you all. Not only have you recovered
after a lengthy detour, you’re reeling them in. Personally I don’t care,
you’re all my heroes already, you only have to finish safely so I can see
you at the other end. But Derek did want a podium finish…
Stay safe, sail well, be proud.
Love & hugs to even the grizzliest of those aboard.