Less than 500 miles to go..
With less than 500 miles to go in my 4 month, 20,000 mile sailing adventure the last few days haven’t been without drama.
It all started with another medi-vac for us less than 3 hours after leaving Hobart for Brisbane as we were exiting Storm Bay. Whilst getting ready for coming on watch Katharine and Derek fell from one side of the boat to the other down below with Derek coming to land on his head against the wet locker, knocking himself unconscious! He was unconscious and unresponsive for 6 minutes.
During this time the Clipper training kicked in.
Matt, our skipper immediately ordered the boat to be heave to so that a team could attend to the casualties whilst he placed a Mayday call. The response was swift and the Australian police immediately dispatched both a helicopter and fast launch whilst Derek was prepared on a stretcher for evacuation. The Police ordered us to head for a small sheltered bay within Storm Bay. However when we tried to start the engine there was a flash behind the control panel and the control system went dead, no engine! Fortunately the bay was downwind so after adjusting our sail plan we began to make our way there, followed by another Clipper yacht, Qingdao who had also responded to our mayday. By this time the helicopter had been in touch requesting we prepared the casualty on deck and operated our EPIRB to aid it locating us.
Within 15 minutes the helicopter was overhead and requested that we reduced sail further and also deploy one of our liferafts and place the casualty in there for recovery. Suddenly the helicopter changed direction and set off in the direction it had come from!?! The pilot radioed to inform us that it had developed engine problems of its own and had to put down as fast as possible! You couldn’t make it up!
So it was left with us to proceed under sail, our engine still unresponsive, to the sheltered bay to rendezvous with the fast Police launch. This itself was one the scene within the hour and we successfully transferred the casualties into it. By this time Derek was conscious and complaining that the neck brace was hurting him, whilst Jo had been keeping him entertained with crap jokes.
The fast launch proceeded to a small town in the bay to rendezvous with the helicopter that had resolved its own engine problems and returned to airlift Derek and Katharine to the hospital in Hobart.
That left us to proceed in company with Qingdao back to Hobart to have our engine repaired and also collect some crew from Henri Lloyd as they had not departed with the race due to rudder problems, and we were now below the minimum limit of crew allowed; so Clipper Race Management had instructed us
to return. It transpired that Qingdao had to tow us the last few miles into Hobart as the wind entirely died and in the event we borrowed two of their crew, Brian and Jess. Qingdao then immediately put back to sea whilst we bedded down to await the arrival of the maintenance team in the morning.
Morning duly arrived and the engine issue quickly resolved allowing us to depart with Henri Lloyd just after midday some 18 hours after the rest of the fleet. Before we left we had some good news on the casualties; Derek had no ill effects other than a headache but was being kept in for 48 hours for observation and Katharine was allowed to rejoin the yacht! Derek will rejoin the yacht in Brisbane.
However the rest of the race to Brisbane was not going to be without drama with the Southern Ocean lows reluctant to be kind to us – stuff for future posts!