It will be a Birthday she will never forget. Michelle Porter was evacuated yesterday evening local time from Derry~Londonderry~Doire by the South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) off Port Elizabeth and taken to hospital for treatment to a suspected broken arm. There is however a happy ending worth celebrating: X-Rays revealed today that there is no fracture, just torn ligaments and bruising.
“No broken bones, just badly bruised, battered and torn ligaments, but all okay considering what could have happened,” Michelle told us this afternoon. “It’s certainly a birthday I won't be forgetting anytime soon and for the wrong reasons. I'm now in a bed that doesn't move; today is officially my duvet day!”
It was the second time in 24 hours that the NSRI station at Port Elizabeth launched its rescue vessels to help Clipper Race crews. The previous day David Griffin was taken off Mission Performance with an injured calf which was impaled on a cleat during the same violent storm that rolled Michelle’s boat.
Ian Gray, Station Commander of National Sea Rescue Station 6 in Port Elizabeth said, “The rescue went very well. We despatched two of our sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft and Eikos Rescuer IV to rendezvous with the Clipper Race yacht. The first vessel rendezvoused with the yacht five miles from the harbour.
“We came alongside to put a crew member on board and the patient was found to be uncomfortable, in some pain, but in good spirits. It happened to be her birthday. We managed to transfer the casualty onto the seven metre rescue boat. From there we were able to transfer her to the larger craft where she’d be more comfortable and then brought her back to the harbour. A Gardmed ambulance transported her to hospital, in a stable condition, for further treatment.”
On arrival Michelle was grateful to the NSRI for getting her safely ashore, but had mixed emotions about her situation. She said at the time: “I feel a bit numb, a bit sick, and also pretty devastated that I’ve had to leave the yacht. I never thought I’d have to step off that boat. I sailed with it from London and I’m pretty gutted that I’m not doing this leg so I hope there’ll be a speedy recovery and I can go and join the guys in Albany.”
It looks like her prayers have been answered but she’ll need a clean bill of health before confirming she can be reunited with her crew in Australia.
Michelle has also been recalling the incident: “We were hit by a very big wave. We’ve been hit by quite a lot of waves over the last few days but this one was pretty monumental. I was tagged onto the high side by my safety line and just didn’t see the wave coming. The next thing I knew I was clinging onto the rails on the low side. So had it not been for my safety line I would have been straight overboard. It was all a bit chaotic. The boat went over 90 degrees which is not an angle you want to be at.
“When I got own below decks I realised how bad it was because all the food that had been in lockers was all over the ceiling; it was everywhere. It was carnage – people ended up in positions they shouldn’t be in. There were quite a few minor injuries. The medic had also fallen but she was amazing and looked after me really well for the past 36 hours....and now I’m here.”
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was established in 1967 when it acquired its first rescue craft. Manned predominantly by volunteers, the charity was inspired by the UK Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) after a South African rescued by the RNLI in the English Channel campaigned to set up an equivalent institution when 17 fishermen drowned in a terrible storm in 1966. www.nsri.org.za