Slowly, slowly we made our way closer to land.  The miles were being ticked off as we went – literally.  Val had put a grid up on the wall, so every time we went down to the next hundred, we crossed it off.  Or put a bomb under it, or blew it up in a volcano.  The method of knocking them off got more and more creative as we wound our way down to zero.  Zero that is to the finish line – we then had another 142 to go to actually dock in Seattle.

It was getting quite painstaking for me too – the closer we got, the closer I wanted to be.  It seemed to be taking an eternity.  When I got in the bunk on Monday night, I knew we would be in at some point the next day.  We worked out that it should be around 11pm – so I was hoping it was the last time for this leg that I had to climb into that bunk.  I didn’t have my own bunk at this point – or rather I did have my own bunk in as much as I wasn’t sharing with anyone, but it wasn’t my normal one.  It was a little higher than what I was used to, so slightly more difficult to get into.  But bearing in mind since the accident the seas had been remarkably calm, it wasn’t as difficult as it could have been.  To start with, I needed help getting a leg in, someone to raise the bunk once I was in, and to tie the lee cloth.  By now, I was getting in on my own, raising it with one hand once I was in, and tying the lee cloth with one hand.  Not sure how good the knot would have been if I fell into it – it certainly wasn’t the beautiful alpine butterfly James had tied!

When I awoke on Tuesday morning, the sun was absolutely fabulous.  We were sailing in between Vancouver Island and the mainland, and it was stunningly beautiful.  The sky was so blue, and the sun was so hot!  What on earth is happening?  It was meant to be in the late fifties, early sixties at this time of year.  It was certainly in the seventies if not eighties on deck.  The shorts and the tee shirts came out – always good to have this kind of weather for the start of the deep clean on the way in.  I was downstairs for all of the morning inventorying the food – but at least that means that I don’t have to do it when I get in.  We were on our last day bag of food, so got that just about spot on.  The less we have left, the less I have to count.

Val and Marc made a lovely pasta dish for lunch, but we had a surprise delivery just as we were eating it.  A radio message came over to ask us to slow down.
A boat pulled up beside us, and with our boat hook we retrieved a stack of three pizzas, a bag of rolls and a bag of oranges.  All from the crew of The Raven.  They had been following the race, and were waiting for us to arrive.  Wendo had put in one of her blogs that pizza would be the first meal she had when we arrived in Seattle, so they made sure she did.  Some people are just so thoughtful and imaginative.

I went up on deck at this point – the first time I had made it up those stairs since crawling down them a week or so before.  It was a bit of an effort to get a life jacket on – but on it went.  It would have been even more of an effort getting up the steps had it not been as calm and steady as it was.  The sea was just a glorious blue, reflecting all the colour of the sky.  The scenery was amazing.  The beautiful green trees and little villages and towns dwarfed by the snow topped rockies in the background.  I am afraid I didn’t go back downstairs.  It was just breathtaking.  And hot!
Bearing in mind I had not had a change of clothes for however long (don’t really want to think about it), and that they were the same ones that were dipped in the Pacific Ocean, they were totally inappropriate.  I think I counted about eight layers along with thermals.  I hadn’t found my boots since “that day”, and when I did they still had gallons of Pacific Ocean in them as well.  Couldn’t find any of my other shoes, so put a couple of bin bags in the boots, and on they went.  Or squeezed on I should say.  I think my feet and the bottom part of my legs were rather swollen.  But, I was determined they were going on, so they did.

Wendo called a quick meeting an hour or so before we docked, just to say congratulations on crossing the hardest ocean in the world.  I can concur.  That was bloody hard!  There were some that decided to air a few grievances here – I really don’t think that was the time or the place.  It certainly brought the almost euphoric mood that everyone was in, down to a much more woeful state.  I think it quite shocked Wendo as well – the second time that I have witnessed an untimely remark marring what would have been an almost triumphant arrival into port.

Anyway, we got there.  Head for the Space Needle was the instruction coming over the radio.  Not a problem seeing that!  The rib came out to meet us, to guide us to our berth.  A few pictures were taken – with Matt holding up the steering wheel above our heads.  Just to prove we don’t need two to get there!  We could see the orange tee shirts on the shore – they do stand out above all the other colours.  We could see that there were quite a few of our supporters there to cheer us in.  We could hear them from a good way out.

We slid into the marina, and berthed to the rapturous applause of all that were there to meet us.  So many of the crew had family here – more than I think any of the other stopovers.  It brought a tear to my eye – one of them was my family.  I was so glad Paul was here this time.  Not sure I could have coped otherwise.  Once we had docked and the formalities gone through, the gate was opened and everyone looked at me.  “Are you going to get off unassisted” was asked, amidst quite a bit of laughter.  It was probably the worst place we had been for getting off.  It was the longest way down, and there was only rope and a pipe to help.  I didn’t want to have survived the Pacific only to fall in here.  I declined.  The horseshoe was taken off Great Britain, but I still couldn’t get off.  Had to have the race director help me down.  Oh dear – failed with that one then!atlast1.jpg

We were then all marched off to Homeland Security to have our fingerprints and photos taken.  That proved a little hard too – the fingerprint machine was up by my ear, which was OK for the left hand, but the right took a little jiggery pokery to get there and stay long enough for the machine to recognise it was fingers it was looking at.

Lara asked the officer if there was only one thing she did whilst in Seattle what would his suggestion be.  He looked deadpan at her, and told her to take a shower.  That brought a little hilarity to the proceedings.

We then went back to the boat, where we had a delivery of beer and wine, clam chowder and ice cream.  I decided not to get back on – or rather decided I wouldn’t be able to get back on, let alone try to get off again.  I did all my eating and drinking from the dockside, before my butler went on board to get all my belongings (or those we could find anyway) and back to normality for a few days!

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Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul Keevil!