Last day of the festival and my final shift.
Running late for my shift (oops!) I headed straight to Queens Quay to jump on the crew water taxi over to York Dock. Of course I popped by the Europa barque to say goodbye and wish fond farewells with that irresistible Northern Irish tray bake – fifteens. It was then over to the HMS Northumberland in Pollock Dock who were leading the tall ships flotilla at 11:30. Feeling rather privileged to be allowed into the cordoned area I hopped on board to make introductions and get a guided tour of the vessel. I was taken through the armour they would normally have on board, missiles, machine guns, the like. Just your average weaponry arsenal :-0!!
As expected there was nothing needed of me but I hung around to see the Red Arrows fly past and the huge Naval ship leave followed by the stylish departure of the Buque Escuela Guayas from Ecuador.
It was back over to Queens Quay via water taxi, was lovely to get the unique view from the water of the smaller vessels leaving. I got the chance to say goodbye once more to the Europa, Captain Klaas and the rest of the crew. It was an absolute honour to be assigned to such a beautiful ship for the duration and be able to get a sneaky peak of their quarters. The crew are such a lovely bunch of people and it was a delight to get to know them.
Away from the masses I stood on the water taxi jetty to wave of the Donegal and Queens Quays fleet, well you’ve got to make the most of your volunteer pass when and where you can! A bit like yesterday when I was hopping on and off the neighboring ships, sitting at the Captain’s table on the Cisne Branco and watching the fireworks from the Golden Leeuw – did I mention that already?! Magical moments indeed.
I was thinking I was maybe missing out on the spectacular sight the ships would have been at sea with their sails out and proud but there was a special atmosphere at the docks waving them off. And of course Captain Klass being the guy that he is had the sails of the Europa in almost all of their glory. He’s a crowd-pleaser that one.
The footage and photos have been wonderful, I’ve just watched the One Show and BBC highlights programme (which I’m in! – see Day 1). The whole experience has been such an absolutely amazing one, not without it’s glitches mind but that’s to be expected. My fellow volunteers have been so friendly and welcoming, just a delight to meet and work with, it’s no surprise they’re all Volunteer Now veterans! I’ve loved hearing of their experiences like Julie getting to hug Dan Snow or David having lunch with the Captain. They’ve been more than a team, more a big family and I look forward to seeing their smiley faces again! Like any festival or event when you really throw yourself into it I’m now on the come down. I’m missing the Europa already and I’m actually a little emotional. Back to the day job tomorrow so that will soon get me back to reality! I’ve taken so much from this experience, not least of all some truly memorable moments.