It's a strange thing, knowing we have one more sprint to London, and then our voyage is over. It's even stranger that we've done what we set out to do, and to know that we could just cruise across to London, not even bothering to race if we chose to. Eric told us it's a decision for us as a crew – but I can't really imagine there'd be many votes for the cruising option. Racing is what we like to do, and we really don't like deliveries.
We'd already spent time in Derry taking everything off the boat that we didn't need – all that stuff we've dragged around the world with us because we might use it, might just need it some day. Pressure cookers, scavenged spinnaker cloth, kilos of split peas,, team shirts that don't fit anyone, dozens of jars of Chinese jam and tens of jars of Nutella – it was all given or thrown away. That was the beginning of the end.
But the evidence that the end has really come was as we put the sails away on our way into Den Helder. We dropped tha Yankee 1 and dragged it back to the cockpit to flake and bag it. Fitzy and I both had the same thought – it was tied up quite neatly and we could just put it straight in the bag without flaking. “But when are you going to flake it properly?” asked Eric. “When we inspect it” said we. “We're not doing that here” was his reply. We were a little shocked – even though we know there's only a day or two left, we've never not inspected the sails in port before. I'd fully expected we'd be checking all the kites, the windseeker, the Yankee 1 and 3, and the staysail. We used most f our sail wardrobe in the race from Derry!
But no, we're in a different world now. Most of the work we did here was cleaning Henrietta, sorting her stores, and getting her ready to hand her back to Clipper. Our epic journey is really drawing to and end. I'm sure though, whatever branding CV21 carries in future races, she'll always be Henrietta to us.