I’ve just read Bridget’s first couple of blogs about getting back home from
Seattle, and the result of her discussion with the surgeon here. What comes
across most clearly is how down she is, and it fills me with sadness. I
wish I were there to give her a huge hug (with due care for her shoulder).
Even better, I wish she were here on Flo, whole and undamaged, where I
could give her a huge hug without worrying about buggering up something
I miss her. I really miss her. It’s great to have new crew and returning
leggers on the boat, and spirits are high, especially as the weather gets
warmer and the sailing is downwind and easy. But there is a Bridget-shaped
hole in the crew line-up which can’t be filled by anyone but her. She would
complain to me occasionally that she was not really contributing anything
to the boat, and it’s true that the actual sailing part of this adventure
was not her forte (she knew what she was doing but was not the quickest at
getting where she needed to be).
As I told her just as many times however was that she contributed so much
more than what she could do on the deck. Quite apart from the gargantuan
task of victualling for us and catering for the ever-changing dietary
requirements (including but not limited to vegetarian, gluten-free, peanut
allergy, garlic allergy, no shellfish, no tuna, no chocolate etc. etc.),
she provided inspiration to us all in terms of sheer grit, endurance and
determination to get around the world, whether she hated it or not. We all
admired her perseverance, tenacity and ability to sit on a freezing wet
deck for hours at a time without complaint.
I recall an incident quite early on in the race when she and I were on the
same watch and were getting ready to go up on deck for a wet, cold night
watch. I was feeling pretty tired and muttered something about wanting to
stay in bed (anyone on the boat will tell you – I’m not good when I first
wake up!). She looked at me and said; ‘You have to get up on deck Valerie.
I rely on you to be the strong one and if you can do it, so can I.’ Those
words, and her reliance on me – and belief that I would always get on with
it even if I didn’t want to – have stuck with me through some of the really
tough times. I start thinking; ‘If Bridget can do this then so can I’, and
find the motivation. As I say, she provided much much more on the boat
than she gave herself credit for, and when I look at her I don’t see a
small, slightly overweight (but no longer a Fat Bird, Bridge!) middle-aged
lady from the Home Counties, I see beyond that to the adventurer, explorer
and general all-round Bad Ass who is bursting through the (mostly) mild-
Respect, admiration and immense liking. These are the things that I feel
for Bridget (and I am very picky about my friends), and her absence on the
boat is a real loss not only to me but to the rest of the crew.
Guest Blog by Valerie Saint-Pierre.