Leg 5, Race 7 – Day 23, 23rd March

I woke up around midnight in agony. My shoulder was in intense pain. I peered out of my bunk to spy Kirsten's legs on  “step-watch” on the companion way and hissed at her, trying to get her attention without waking the sleeping skipper in the bunk below. Brendan, who wasn't asleep, heard so got up to fetch me more painkillers, some water and words of sympathy. Hunger and discomfort eventually drove me out of my bunk and the food and the company of the night watches helped take my mind off my predicament. I spent the next 5 hours typing a long email to our hospital bound skipper while chatting to Charlie in the nav station – who frequently interrupted my flow with “tell Piers we miss him” and “I'm thinking we should gybe – ask Piers if we should gybe or not”...which along with the one-fingered typing explains why it took me 5 hours to finish the email! Not keen to have another bout of pain like earlier, I'd also strung it out long enough to take the next round of drugs before heading back to bed until breakfast.

We found out this afternoon that we were to become the companion boat for California clipper and escort them all the way back to San Francisco. This would also mean that Spirit of Australia would be doing the same thing. It would mean up to a 5 day extension on our voyage and our initial reaction, after the trauma of losing our skipper, was one of resentment. We were desperate to get into port, to re-charge and to re-group and any delay felt to us like it was adding insult to injury. We also couldn't understand why Jamaica, who were already with the Californian yacht and who had had a reasonably smooth ride, weren't being asked to do it. The air was mutinous, as people felt like the end of their tether had been reached. Before we could work ourselves up into a complete frenzy, Brendan gathered us together and reminded us of our duty as sailors to other sailors in trouble and as if that wasn't enough to make us feel sheepish over our desire to get to SF quickly, he then explained that Jamaica had had their own issues. They'd suffered a diesel leak, which apart from leaving them short on fuel, had made the living conditions below decks pretty torrid, many of the crew were feeling very sick and they had also had a large amount of their food contaminated by the diesel, so therefore couldn't afford to delay getting to port! We now felt thoroughly ashamed of our initial selfishness and agreed that getting to and staying with California was top of agenda. All other thoughts banished – or at least tucked firmly to the back of our minds.

The wind today had eased considerably, which made the ride easier but our progress towards our rendezvous point with California slower. We'd hoped to be with them by now but it was looking like another 10 – 12 hours till to go. The day passed in a woozy haze for me. I spent much of it in the saloon with my laptop in front of me trying to do some work but in reality dipping in and out of fitful sleep. I was frustrated and emotional, struggling with not being on deck and part of the routine that had become my way of life for the past seven months. I had gone from being a sailor to a passenger and I didn't like it one bit!