Race 14 - Day 2
Crew Diary - THE FINALE: Den Helder, Netherlands, to London, UK
29 July

Henry Dale
Henry Dale
Team Unicef
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I have just left the helm to write my last ever blog from CV30 / Unicef. We've been sitting on Great Britain's arse for the last hour since we turned left before hitting East Anglia. I'd have loved to continue, but there aren't that many more helming opportunities to go round, and Neill and Chloe were bursting to get on. So I left them to it and came downstairs.

We finally hover at the threshold of the end. The moment we have been working towards is almost upon us and I find myself overtaken by a strange shade of regret; an undertone of melancholia. For months we have been chasing goal after goal after goal, always with more than just the next thing to look forward to. Visiting places we've never been to before; seeing things we've previously only read about; sailing through seas that few others have. And now, suddenly, we're running on empty; there's nothing left. Just an arrival into London, which will be all very nice, but then there will be no more. We have stayed the course; completed the circumnavigation; girdled Planet Earth.

Crew from previous years have described the feeling of emptiness and desolation at the finish. Of the sense of loss. Of aimless wanderings around the boat. Of bursting into tears. I didn't think I'd have any of those problems, but now I'm not so sure.

Of course, there will be the SWAGs to see us in, marshall us from the boats, steward us in our hazy drunken euphoria, just as they have done at every stopover bar Panama. They have been unfailing in their support, and I thank each and every one of them for helping to make the last year so special. In particular, I thank my very own special SWAG (xxx). We owe it to them to return to normal life and give them a break. They beat us into Den Helder, by the way.

I also think thanks is due to the Clipper organisation and all the wonderful people who make it work, for the opportunity they have given to hundreds of ordinary non-saiiing people like me to do something big and special that would otherwise have been impossible. So thanks all you Clipper people, and in particular: Jay, Greg, and Alex (or Jagrelex, as I call them), who maintain the rigging for the whole fleet, and let us do the easy jobs under their supervision. They are unfailingly cheerful and endlessly helpful. Not once have I seen any of them even come close to losing it, despite the continuous stream of bleating ninnies who compete for their attention during stopovers. Thanks lads.

It has been a blast. Thank you, dear Readers, for sharing the journey with us; reading our blogs; liking our photos. If you have nominated us for the final Stormhoek Social Spirit Award, I thank you on behalf of the crew. If you haven't yet done so, please consider it -- we think we deserve it for raising around £60,000 of the £250,000 that Clipper 15\16 has raised for UNICEF. You will find details of how to nominate us on our FaceBook page.

See you in London