"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Friday, 24 April 2015


so this was it. we got the call to form up and start motoring toward the dartford bridge. it is a long and fairly boring motor up the thames from southend. we had to wait until the thames barrier before we could see any spectator boats. 11 months ago we had left them behind at the barrier, as they were not allowed to pass through it and keep following us. at this point, they had turned and we had all switched the kettle on...

this year, the spectators were not so restrained. one boat came through, and then suddenly they were all there. this was supposed to be our final wee bit of peace before the parade! but it was amazing to see them all. everyone was spotting their friends and family. the mission guys had commandeered a boat for our crew and families to be on, although my lot stuck with the original clipper boat as there were a fair few of them!

my sister, leigh, had sent me a viber message a bit before saying 'at the barrier, can't see the boats, it's a bit choppy' and I had replied 'we're about ten minutes away, waiting for the helicopter. fyi. that's not choppy' :)

and then suddenly, there they were. shouting and waving. I had been worried that I would just cry when I started seeing folk I knew, but it turned out I didn't have to worry. I knew there was a couple of folk waiting for me in st kats as well. annika, who had followed the whole race and whose husband I'd met up with in NY, and sarah, who had so generously organised me a hotel room in albany when I really needed a good night's sleep.

heading back through the thames barrier 11 months later

happy to be home!

and then we could see tower bridge! we were so close. but the tide wasn't quite high enough and we had to wait another few minutes before we could go into the dock. as we were last placed overall (boo!) we were going to be first in. we could hear the speakers from the river as we were being introduced, then suddenly the red bridge lifted and we were heading in.

seeing the maintenance guys and the rest of the clipper team waiting to take our lines was brilliant, even though we'd only seen them a few days before in den helder. within minutes we were alongside and the next boat was coming through the lock and they'd all moved on. interviews were done, photos were taken and we were all looking for faces in the crowd.

I'd spotted sarah as we came through the lock and I could see her again in the crowd near where we'd berthed. I also saw annika, who was standing behind us. I shouted up to her 'apparently the days of the week have names' and made her laugh. a few of the folk around looked at her and she said later that she'd told them proudly 'that's my friend, she's just sailed round the world'.

just off the boat!
taken from the spectator boat

we weren't allowed off the boat until everyone was berthed, but our former crewmates were allowed to join us for the last bit on stage. suddenly all these folk we hadn't seen for a while appeared and stories were told, hugs given and received, and some champagne may have been consumed....

we were called onto the stage in reverse order, so we were first. sometimes it's good being last! once the photos had been taken, that was us. we were released back into society! the race was over. it was an incredible feeling. 

my parents and leigh had booked the same hotel for race finish as they'd had for race start so I knew I had a bed that night, instead of crashing on the boat. as they'd been on the spectator boat, they had gone for some dinner and I'd arranged to meet them in the dickens inn. I set off with sarah and annika, and met up with them and leigh's friends denise and mike, and their wee boy thomas.

a lovely evening in the pub ensued, with all the crews being in their with friends and family. food was had and folk started to drift off. I packed all my stuff up from the boat and took it back to the hotel, as I had decided not to do the delivery back to gosport. my mum was delighted!!

the crew party was good fun. me and leigh went, and it was really busy. I caught up with some more folk and left on a high. we got the train back to scotland on monday morning and that was that. race over!!

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