when we got to den helder, we rafted up with invest africa to go through the lock into the marina. it was pretty late when we berthed up, but there were still a few folk there to meet us off the other boats. it's always nice when that happens, which is actually most of our arrivals. a lady with lights in her hair took us up to the clipper dome, where we were presented with raw mackerel and jagermeister. and clogs. I opted out of all of them - the clogs that were left were absolutely massive!
there was a chip van there and a little bar as well, so we got stuck into those. we were quite hungry even though we'd had tea, and the beer was very welcome. meeting up with folk off some of the other boats was good, as always, but I was knackered so I opted for an early night when the bar ran out of beer. we had a corporate day sail in the morning, and I wasn't on it so I had to be off the boat by 0730 and I *really* wanted a shower!!
thankfully, with my early night decision I managed a shower and got back to the boat to hang my towels up and tidy my bunk before grabbing my laptop and clearing off for the day. there wasn't a great deal to do around the marina itself, so me and richard went for breakfast - running into the entire clipper staff in the restaurant - then for a walk round town. it didn't take long. den helder is very small, but in a very pretty area.
den helder, and specifically willemsoord where we were based, was predominantly a naval base. it seemed to have closed down some years before and the marina has undergone, and is still undergoing, a rejuvenation. some of the old military buildings are now bars and restaurants, where we spent a lot of time and money, and a large part is given over to a naval museum.
we decided to divide the crew by watch and work two days each. port watch did the corporate day sail and the following day did half of the deep clean. then we did the other half of the deep clean and some maintenance over two days. this worked pretty well, as it meant we weren't tripping over each other doing the cleaning and all getting some time off. a lot of the guys went to amsterdam, either for a day or both days. I stayed in den helder and just chilled out.
it was really nice just to relax and hang out, go online and talk to family and friends on the phone. everyone seems to be feeling that we are so nearly there. in new york, we did still have an ocean to cross. now it's just a short hop to london followed by a final parade of sail up the thames. I'm so looking forward to seeing everybody again, and going home. I'm back to scotland on monday with my parents and leigh, and I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again. I need to get in touch with one of the local papers again as they want to speak to me, and organise an interview with the lovely carol from dumfries and galloway life magazine.
it's going to be really strange to get back into normal life, although it wasn't that long ago that I was living a 'normal' life in san francisco! but this time it will be permanent. but first we have to cross to london and parade up the thames. that's going to be emotional…
wish me luck!!