Posts Tagged ‘Orlova’

We were much closer to Antarctica and then came the day that changed the trip and our lives forever.

Thursday 25th January 2001

I was awoken at around 2:30am by Damien, I was on the 3-7am shift to watch the boat.

I got up and was ready to go. It was freezing. I spent a lot of time on the front of the boat on iceberg duty looking out for growlers (submerged ice) and icebergs. I spent a lot of time talking with Brenda and a bit of time talking with Lynn.

Lynn spent a lot more time below deck looking after Pip. She was really sick, so much so that when I got up Jane was going to sleep in Pip’s cabin to look after her and watch her.

The morning shift was very uneventful, in fact I don’t think we made a sail change. There was no wind – we just motored along.

Jane came up at one stage and gave us an egg – for breakfast! It was nice.

The highlights of our watch were some penguins swimming and some seals.

Then at 7am I went back to bed to get some sleep.

I woke up again about 1.5 hours later. There was pandemonium and action in the passageway.

I heard a beeping from the Nav. area and Jane came in and woke up Marcus.

I then say Marcus and a couple of others drag Pip into the passageway. I prayed for Pip then.

I got up but I didn’t fully know what was going on. I looked out of my cabin and I saw them administering CPR to Pip. I saw Hilda and she had a kind of shocked look on her face and said, ‘She’s not breathing’.

Suddenly I realised just how serious the situation was. Mark was running around with various needles etc and he told me to sit at the chart table and write down any message that came through.

I sat there and heard the whole story unfold. There were people madly giving Pip CPR and rubbing her legs to try to keep her warm – but there had been no pulse and she hadn’t been breathing. It was looking really bad.

We got a message from a ship called the Orlova, they were about 4 hours away to the north. We had a bit of a conversation with them (Emily was doing all the talking) we even turned around to try and get closer to them.

However we had a conversation with the doctor on the Orlova and we relayed Pip’s symptoms to him. We said that the patient was without a pulse for about an hour or so, then I heard the doctor say that he recommended we stop CPR, ‘the patient has expired, you’ll only exhaust your crew’. I couldn’t quite believe it – Pip was dead! It couldn’t be true could it?

Mark was injecting all sorts of things, adrenalin, insulin, Dramamine, but he had no injection called ‘life’.

We kept going with the CPR and I prayed more.

We had news of a navy helicopter on its way, so we changed course again and tried to get closer to the helicopter.

It was only 11am but the morning had seemed like an eternity. Everyone was looking concerned and people were quite shocked.

The helicopter eventually arrived – I played my small part relaying messages from the radio and getting Em or Mark to take them.

When the helicopter came it was incredibly dramatic. Two royal navy servicemen came down. The spray and the noise and the wind was incredible.

The navy doctor was there only for a little while – they only had a few minutes on the 2041.

He pronounced Pip dead and then the servicemen were winched back to the helicopter and they took off.

It confirmed what we had all feared, but Pip was dead. Yesterday she was alive – I asked her what she wanted for lunch and she said, ‘A cheese sandwich’, ‘with butter’. Now I would never hear her voice again. It was almost unbelievable.

When the Navy servicemen left we put the boat in neutral (there was still no wind) and Mark called an emergency meeting.

We were all pretty gutted I mean what could you say or think or do! Pip was dead, one of our team, the Mission Antarctica 2001 team, was dead! I mean dead! Not just sick or late or missing or irritable – dead! Not alive!

Mark said that he, Em and Mike would sail the boat, we were left free.


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