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One night I wrote in my log, ‘I feel very happy again tonight. I have not enjoyed myself so much since I was preparing to fly out alone to Australia in 1929. I was thinking the old query, ‘Is fate too strong for man’s self-will? Am I so happy because I am doing the sort of thing I was destined for? How I enjoyed my flying – no, that’s not right because I hated a lot of it, always scared stiff. No, I should say, ‘how it satisfied me!’

‘Somehow I never seemed to enjoy so much doing things with other people. I know now I don’t do a thing nearly as well when with someone. It makes me think I was cut out for solo jobs, and any attempt to diverge from that lot only makes me a half person. It looks as if the only way to be happy is to do fully what you are destined for.’

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The stores came aboard at Buckler’s Hard. They were no trouble to me because Sheila had prepared a list of them. One hundred was my magic number; I had 100 lbs of potatoes, 100 fresh eggs, 100 apples, onions, carrots and oranges, and also 100 bottles of grog.

On 5 June, Sheila sailed down to Plymouth with me, and we tied up alongside the three other British entries for the race. We had four days of rushing about, press and television interviews, visits and talks; it was all great sport. On the night before the race, Sheila and I decided to have a quiet dinner together with Giles at Pedro’s. Lindley Abbatt of The Observer asked me if he and his wife could join us, and before we had finished it was a dinner party of seventy people. I always intend to start an ocean race with a clear head, after no drink taken. Perhaps one day I shall succeed, but that night I remember walking up to the Hoe after the party with Mike Richey, secretary of the Institute of Navigation, and a very experienced ocean racer. Sheila asserts that at 1 o’clock in the morning we were trying to get a star fix from a street lamp.

Dawn came cold, blustery and wet, and my spirits sank to their lowest ebb. Sheila and I went down early to move Gipsy Moth out of the tidal dock at high water. We tied up in a little basin outside, and I tried to eat something on board, but could not. My three rivals looked fairly bleak, too. They were Blondie in his junk-rigged Jester, David Lewis in Cardinal Virtue, and Val Howells in Eira.

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