Saturday, January 2, 2010

Drake II with a broken pelvis...

Saturday 12 – Thursday 17 December, Drake & Beagle

And so the return. I had really been looking forward to this, hoping for better sailing conditions than on our trip down when for the most part we had been faced with a southerly wind. Unfortunately, the southern oceans were not kind to us as amazingly we had a northerly wind for most of our trip back.

This meant that for most of the time we were under motor sail. Never particularly a good situation since it makes for a more unstable crossing. And certainly not when you have a broken pelvis!

Having left Dorian Bay the night before we spent the morning checking out Melchior Island. I am told I didn’t miss a huge amount there as it was very cold and snowing. The brave souls on the ship took a zodiac tour around, but it didn’t seem to be the most comfortable one of the trip. I, however, would have happily traded places! But that was not to be. After Saturday lunch, Europa set a course for the north and our return to Ushuaia. Down in my cabin I was being prepared for the trip. This included being kitted out with a hard drive with the ship’s catalogue of films to entertain me through the hours! I was pleased as punch to get this as I had long exhausted the films I had brought with me. I was also kitted out with a lot of books, the usual paperback thrillers that people bring and then leave on these trips! Nothing better than a page turner to wile the hours away! Perhaps most importantly, we got extra duvets and cushions to pad out the bunk so I couldn’t move so much in the crossing and removed the panels from the bunk above so I didn’t feel like I was in a prison!

After the first couple of days the sharp pains subsided and I was left pretty much pain free, with more a sensation of discomfort due to lying in bed generally. My biggest problem turned out to be using the toilet as I had to stay in bed! I’ll spare the details but it wasn’t always fun, especially for those who helped me!

A special mention to Doc Lia. She was fantastic, diagnosed the injury correctly right at the start and looked after me for the rest of the crossing. She – again correctly – argued against my requests to get up, especially when we were nearly back in Ushuaia and I was keen to get out of bed! Any movements then could have really put me back. She also kept my spirits up and we did laugh a lot! It quickly dawned on me that Ship’s Doc and the cook are probably two of the most important posts on a ship! And especially for the Doc, she had to be on top form even when she felt under the weather – and people did with the seasickness!

The rest of the crew were also very helpful, right down from Captain Eric and Marleen (guide) with their “strict” peptalks and tales of past disasters to put my own in perspective to everyone else who came by to chat, check on me, keep my spirits up and generally help pass the time! Particularly, Nick and Daniel, my cabin mates who put up with the disruption and all the visitors and provided friendly encouragement as we crossed the Drake. Special mention too to Marjolein who brought me many of the dinners and helped me through some of the late afternoon blues I suffered! Much appreciated. This is a picture of Captain Eric and soon to be Captain of his slightly larger cruise ship, Nick (cabin mate).

The journey was rough, with no sailing the boat lurched in all directions as we struggled northwards into the wind, with all engines at max. At times it felt never ending and I know that for a lot of the crew – permanent and voyage alike – this was a shared feeling. Being at sea when you can’t sail hammers you! A lot of people were sea sick, thankfully not me. I think I would have despaired if I had been seasick! I did feel bad during two days, headaches which stopped me reading and watching films – you can imagine how pissed that made me feel! However, the problem was that I had stopped drinking tea for some reason – after a couple of cups I was back watching Casion Royale!

In the meantime, the crew’s struggles across the Drake were rewarded when Europa sailed close past Cape Horn. I was there I can say!

The pics here were again taken by Frida – see, I said you would get some credit! :)

And so, finally on Thursday morning we docked back at Ushuaia to be met by an ambulance and Dr Mario. Emerging squinting into the bright Ushuaia sun, I was lifted out of the boat in a wheelchair and whisked off to hospital with the sound of Europ’s horns blasting the quayside in a pretty cool depature! What would the hospital and x-ray reveal I wondered...

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