While Race 4 continues around us, the Derry~Londonderry~Doire made it's way into Port Elizabeth as smoothly and quickly as possible. As luck would have it, it just turned out that today was Michelle's birthday.
Unfortunately, she found herself lying in her bunk with an IV in her arm so we could get her to retain fluids, me harassing her with phone and video interviews to send off to media outlets in London, and her dealing with the thought of leaving her crew members to receive professional care on land. Not quite the birthday celebration one would want, but definitely one she will never forget!
At about 10:30 PM ship's time we hove to in Port Elizabeth and saw the lights of the rescue boats coming to 'retrieve the casualty.' A nice little man in a tight orange rescue suit cheerily hopped on board to whisk Michelle away from us. As he came below deck, he talked about how the boats seemed all too familiar to him, turns out he had actually done a few legs of the Clipper 09-10 Race. Such a small world! Not only that, but this was the second time in two days they had to come out to receive a transfer from someone off a Clipper Race yacht.
He checked to make sure Michelle was stable enough to step onto the transfer boat and informed her a camera man was on the primary boat to capture footage for the documentary. Just giving her a warning and the opportunity to put on some make-up perhaps? After learning it was her birthday, the rescue team all promised to sing to her!
While coming up on deck and getting into the boat Michelle and our crew gave many tearful goodbyes, hugs, kisses, and promises that we would all be reunited in just a couple short weeks in Albany. Although she looked somewhat terrified of the unknown that lies ahead, you could tell there was an element of relief that soon many questions will be answered and she can get on a path to healing.
Once again the mood on board was somber again as we realized the effects of being one crew member short. Michelle is so vital to this crew in how we operate on a daily basis. Not only does she put together our watches, rotas, and bunk arrangements as Chief of Staff, but she provides us all with tons of laughter and enjoyment. There is definitely a big 'Michelle-shaped hole' onboard, as Susie Redhouse stated.
Michelle, we miss you loads and can't wait to have you back on this dancing train once more! We hope the rest of your birthday was a bit more stable on dry land and the rescue team of PE was good to you. All the best from your crew mates on Derry~Londonderry~Doire!