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At long last, after 32 days we have arrived into Rio.  Everybody’s spirits seemed to lift when we sailed around the bay and sugar loaf mountain the Christ the Redeemer came into view.  A very different way to coming into Rio than usual.
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When the race officially finished last night at midnight UTC we were still around 130 miles away.  The wind had dropped, and the sea was calm.  We put the motor on to finish the leg in the knowledge that we would probably have taken another couple of days to end the race if we had to go in by sail. Not the way we wanted to finish, but everyone was ready to have a break now.  Tensions got a little fraught again at one point – time for everyone to get a little space.

We have half watches during the night, so only two hours on instead of four. We got the sails packed away, and had quite any easy motor down the coast.  We had heard that there were whales everywhere in this part of the course – the other skippers had virtually all reported sightings.  Nothing from our boat though.

Morning came, and we started the deep clean early.  Rather now when we were motoring easily than once we arrive into Rio when everyone will want to disperse.  It had been agreed that some of the meals would change for the next leg, so I spent about five hours updating spreadsheets and retyping packing lists.  Now just to figure out how to buy everything in Portuguese – no, I don’t have to do that!  Sunvil Holidays have supplied me with a man and a van to help do the job.  Not only a great tour operator, but great people as well.  A huge thank you from me!
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We now had to stop making any more water.  The sea water is not good enough to make potable water, and even the water from the hose in the marina will not be able to fill our water tanks, so the water we have now has to last us until we leave Rio and get out into the Atlantic again and on our way to Capetown.  Better than getting funny tummies I suppose, but you would think a marina would have good enough water to fill a boats tank.
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We started to see the mountains of Rio at around 12 midday – we were due to cross the finish line at around 1.30pm.  The day had started really miserably –  a grey, cloudy day that was very damp.  The first day that we hadn’t had a lovely sunrise.  The clouds were still quite low as Christ the Redeemer came into view – just poking through.  Looked as if he really was hovering in mid air.

The sun then came out, and we had glorious views of both the Christ statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain.  Brought a lump to my throat.  Even though it has been a really tough four and a half weeks, it all didn’t seem as bad now we were here.
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There had been a suggestion that motoring over the finish line was not the way to go, so it was agreed we would put up the sail and sail over the finish line.  Or drift would be more apt.  No wind at all.  Good job we did motor, or we may have got into Rio just in time to sail out again.  There was a Clipper Media boat waiting for us just past the finish line to take photos of our arrival.  Everyone had smiles on their faces, and all the troubles of the last few weeks seem to have dissipated.
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We had just about a mile to go from the finish line to the marina.  There were several sail boats out on the bay – the Olympics are being held here next year, and the marina is the official Olympic marina.  One largish boat passed quite close by, and the crew all gave a friendly wave.  Just as they were almost past, a shout came from the skipper – “Hey Wendo!”.  Unbelievable.  “I did my first Sydney Hobart with him” says Wendo.  Amazing.  No matter the ocean, someone knows Wendo.

We sailed into the marina, with nine boats already moored up.  As we came in, all the crews on the other boats were on their bows giving us a huge round of applause.  How lovely.  Even though we are competitors, everyone wants the others to do well.  We were met with cold beers.  I did have a swig or two, but even though I have had nothing but water with floaty bits in it for the last few weeks I can’t say I was enjoying it.  Didn’t have too much of a job giving it away!

There were quite a few relatives and friends waiting on the dock – parents, wives, siblings etc.  It was a bit sad getting off the boat and not having anyone to give a hug to.  We all gave each other a hug – more of a “we’re here” hug, and congratulated each other on making it this far.  For some, this is as far as it goes.  For others, there is a lot more of it to come!

Our passports had to go in for immigration and customs clearance.  They were taken by a Clipper person, saying that it would probably take four to five hours to get the passports back.  We weren’t officially meant to leave the marina until we had full customs clearance, but I really don’t think that was an option I was particularly interested in.  Luckily I have two passports – and only one went in the bag.  I can check into my hotel with no problem, and probably everyone else going to my hotel would be OK if one of us had a passport.  That’s the way we decided to play it anyway.  Still didn’t get away from the marina until gone 5 o’clock, but that shower was calling.

Even though the hotel was just over the back of the marina, because of the one way system we seemed to go miles to get there.  Last time I was in Rio it was the Copacabana Palace – this time it had to be a hotel near the marina, which is not the most salubrious area  of the city.  But needs must, so the Hotel Novo Mundo it was.  I wasn’t expecting much, but it was very comfortable.  Or is it that it is comfortable compared with the last four and a half weeks of my life?  Hmm.

After a shower – it took gallons of shampoo to get my hair clean – had taken the dirt and grime off my body, I felt almost human again.  I can get to feel human for the next six days – yippee!  I had a knock on the door, and a huge plate of chocolate desserts were delivered, compliments of the manager.  Hotel certainly isn’t too shabby then!  Wonder if I will wake up tonight for the 2am shift?

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