So this is it. The big finish! It lived up to all my expectations and more. I had a magical weekend in London catching up with the crew and of course celebrating the return of the boat to London after 40,000+ miles. There were a few tears but mostly laughter as we revelled in the fact that we'd made it back as a team and had managed to secure 3rd place overall. An amazing achievement by an amazing bunch of people.
We were presented to the crowds on stage at the marina with our pennant and I was so proud to be there with them. Later that evening came the crew party for more celebrations and a bit of a dance. Clipper parties are always good!
As a final farewell to the boat and most of the crew we had arranged a cocktail party on board 'Grace' on Sunday evening, with Prosecco and Gin or Dark and Stormy's as the drinks of choice. On a beautifully sunny and warm evening in the picturesque surroundings of St Katharine's Dock next to Tower Bridge, around 60 crew, friends and family packed on to the boat and enjoyed chatting and eating Pete's mums' fabulous cake. Speeches were made and presents given to Peter and also acknowledgements of outstanding contributions - Claire for being the most fabulous victualler! A last meal in the local curry restaurant finished a perfect weekend.
Then there was the delivery back to Gosport - what I thought would be a lovely gentle sail down the coast turned in to shades of the South China Sea with Force 8, gusting 9! We all made friends with the sick bags once again! And to top it all, the Old Man of The Sea, Mike, who had sailed all the way round the world managed to take the top of his finger of within sight of Gosport marina! (Mashed in the traveller winch) It was lovely to sail with old friends and some friends and family who had supported us so brilliantly - Mandy with Andy, Phil and Annabel with Claire and Pete's Dad and uncle, Charlotte and Gavin.
My last duty on board 'Grace' was to clean the heads. Horrible as usual (!) but done with pride and satisfaction in a job well done by us all. We made it and we did it well.
So, the next adventure? Who knows…..but it's going to be a good one!
Cheers and gone…..Mel xx