Even at 7am as we mustered at our boat, Old Pulteney, there was an excited buzz around St Katherine Docks. Most of our crew couldn't really tell if they were excited, nervous or saddened at the imminent departure from our loved ones on the adventure of a lifetime. As the crowd built around the dock so did the excitement, but also so did the opportunity for that last goodbye.
We were called to the stage to be greeted by ...bagpipes, laid on by our ever generous sponsor Old Pulteney who after a warm welcome earlier in the week, the crew have grown very fond of. As the pipers led us to the stage we felt like a crew truly ready to do battle both with the elements and our competitors. The compare picked on Sue who did a fine job of expressing all of our views in response to the normal questions and then, to the crews great amusement he picked Ross the boats only Aussie. As the words "G'day mate" echoed around the dock the team burst into laughter.
Once back at the boat we were quickly called to the lock and having locked out without incident entered the river. Although we had been told in our briefing to expect a warm welcome from the crowds none of us were prepared for what we saw. Every area of shoreline was packed to the gunnels with people, as were the rooftops and flats above. As we paraded down the river a pack of spectator boats descended on us. Keeping with our proud Scottish we were serenaded by our sponsor with yet more bagpipes, along with songs from Kate's friends the Barmy Army and the commentator on The Golden Jubilee asking our skipper Patrick how it felt to be Clipper Race's new poster boy!
As we finished our parade and journeyed down the river the crowds thinned, but we still saw people as far down river as The QE bridge. As the crowds dispersed although we had joy in our hearts from the rousing send off we knew that the game was now afoot and we rafted up at Queenborough over night and prepared to race...