oh dear. I am a terrible blogger. who knew?
so I find myself in my hotel room in qingdao in march writing about a stopover that happened a month before christmas. forgive me if it's patchy, at some point on this leg I stopped writing in my diary as well and just started experiencing the race. at the same time, I stopped taking photos with my own camera and am now relying on the media camera footage.
so. the albany stopover. after our exciting finish and emotional reunion with dave of the medevac, followed by a night in the white star hotel - still in our foulies - we had the deep clean, rig check and maintenance to do.
the volunteers who ran the boat shed were amazing all week. garmin arrived after us, around 0300. we'd been in the pub and went down to meet them in, some folk had gone out in a rib to meet them in the sound. sir robin was there, and a bunch of crew from all the other boats. and so were the volunteers. having got the call saying garmin were arriving, they got out of their beds and headed down to the boat shed to get the barbecue on and make sure they were welcomed and fed after customs had finished with them. and all with massive smiles on their faces! they also supplied us with hot breakfast rolls and tea all week.
the locals in the town were really interested in the race, and we would always be chatted to if we were in a coffee shop or restaurant. I had a long chat with the lady who ran the health food shop while buying vegan chocolate :)
albany was also the first stopover where I had a night in a hotel. thanks to the lovely sas for organising and gifting a night in the best western to me! it was bloody lovely! a proper bed, laundry done and free decent internet was really needed. a couple of hours on skype followed, and a really nice takeaway. I think I managed about three showers in 24 hours…
I reckon there is one vegan who lives in albany. both the restaurants I ate in had a single vegan option, and the coffee shop which became my regular haunt were happy to modify my order without complaint. I had looked forward to a decaf soya latte for some weeks by then, and when I ordered it, the lady who served me asked me if I wouldn't prefer almond milk. oh my god. yes I would. it was the best latte I'd had since camden in august, and fixed that place as my favourite coffee shop in albany, possibly australia.
even though we were there a week, it felt much shorter, and all too soon we were preparing to leave. at the crew brief (which I didn't go to) the winners of the media prize and photography competition are also announced. I found out when our crew got back to the boat that we'd won the media prize! probably as a result of our CCTV and medevac footage :)
the weekend that we left, the town had a food and crafts fair in the boat shed. it was really busy and brought a lot of visitors to the boats. we did a full day of boat tours on mission, and for me the highlight was explaining to an open-mouthed 9 year old about the 'what happens if you run out of food' discussion we'd had on leg 1. he clearly thought he was bringing up a unique topic, not realising that mission is a unique boat :)
with all the jobs completed, food and new crew loaded on board, we headed off back into the sound to start leg 4.