Pip Hare writes this morning, "After the events of yesterday I know I am special. I have had what I believe to be a unique Vendee Globe experience. I have been stung on the back by a Portuguese Man O War Jelly Fish. And yes, I know strictly they are not jelly fish but what ever they are, the little blighters are evil.
I have always embraced that 'next level' concept of a challenge but I am not sure this is the direction I had in mind.
It was as I sailed out from the last big depression that all these jellies got washed on board. There was a huge volume of water coming over the boat as I slammed off waves and although I didnt' see them at the time I noticed a whole heap of the bright blue blobs on the deck in the days afterwards. At the same time I ended up with a burn on the back of my neck. I thought it was strange as it came up suddenly and my dry top had not been irritating me but I assumed it was a reaction to the rubber neck seal and the fact I had not washed my hair for weeks so I put some cream on it, washed my hair and thought nothing more.
Yesterday after a wonderfully productive day of onboard DIY in the sun. I lay down on my stack of sails for a quick moment to take in the evening and when I got up I noticed my back was hurting. Assuming this to be sunburn I reached around my back to feel how hot it was and was met with a big bulging blister.
I am have a very small shore team supporting me in this race but boy, are they amazing. It just so happens that Lou, who is manages the campaign shore side while I am galivanting on the oceans, is also a medic and has practiced in Australia where these sorts of things are common. I took a photo of the blister with some difficulty it being on my back, and sent it to her. We then exchanged messages for a while wondering what the hell could have caused the burn. All the while my back got redder and the blister grew. I, linking it to the blister on my neck was busy wondering what vitamin deficiency was bringing me out in skin lesions and she was rather randomly asking me if I had been stung by anything. To which I replied, 'What? there is nothing out here.'
Slowly the penny dropped and there must have been a Portugese man o war on the sail back I had lain on. There are several of them all over the boat, in rope bags and tucked into corners that don't drain the water in my cockpit. Little did I know they were still venomous when they are dead. I took a selfie with one the other day! I now know that I must have had a wave with one of these in it wash over my head and that is how I got the burn on the back of the neck. This is some unique sort of luck.
So now I have what is effectively a chemical burn which I am trying to treat with my hands behind my back and I need to keep reasonably dry and clean to avoid it getting infected. Just to add a little bit of extra complication to the rest of my race. I am laughing about it, despite the pain, as I think only I could have managed to come up with such a problem on top of sailing solo around the world. This was not one of the problems that I contingency planned for. Laughing is the right response, the only other option would be to curl up in a fetal position and hoping the wind eventually blows me back to LSD.