Leg 4 Race 6 Day 19, 20th February

Despite our eventual good progress last night our position of 7th remains the same. It seems the other boats didn't get the light winds we did and kept moving for those extra hours. Our predicted time for crossing the finish line is about 4am tomorrow morning and it's now looking like there's really nothing we can do to change our position in the race. Edinburgh are a long way behind us so 7th is assured and we are too far behind Cape Breton – our nearest rivals for most of this race, to make any gains on 6th place a reality.

We are all exhausted and the lull in the pace is giving us all a moment to realise just how tired we are. We have 5 people who have various injuries that have now taken them out of the mix for general sailing duties. Lots of people have cuts, bruises grazes. Areas of broken skin are particularly sore because of the exposure to salt water and the fact that they get constantly knocked. Plasters just don't stay on in this environment. Every single one of us aches all over, we have sore hands and painful backs, arms and knees! Despite that, good humour is always in plentiful supply. We still have the energy to take the mickey out of each other, play practical jokes and generally keep our spirits up. We're all pretty good at spotting when someone needs a hug too -a small gesture which, when well timed, goes a long way to help keeping life on board bearable. The cold has been energy sapping and we all agree that we've never been so exhausted at the end of a race.

As we approach Qingdao, the sea is much busier with traffic. I checked out the AIS just before coming onto our day watch to see that we were about half an hour from crossing two very busy lanes of shipping. We were obviously about to encounter the main routes used for travelling around the Chinese coast.  The odd tanker we can deal with but this was definitely looking like a game of British Bulldogs with a constant line of tankers heading north and another one heading south running parallel. I woke Piers who had only been asleep for an hour – but I didn't want to be responsible for having Close Encounters of the Tanker Kind and creating yet another Clipper Race headline! In typical Piers fashion he smiled wryly and proclaimed we just had to pick our moment and “blast through” but although he made light of it, he spent the next half hour constantly moving from the nav station to check the visual on deck and altering our course to move either in front of, or behind a tanker. We were close enough to several of them to have a very good look – and to wave at the guys on board who were similarly checking us out!

Our final day of sailing was really great. We were moving along really well at 10 knots now and were obviously in the winds that the other boats had enjoyed.  For a couple of the guys who were just doing this leg this would be their final chance to helm in the daylight. Talk as always turned to what it would be like to be back home again. I don't even want to think about race end yet. I suspect it will be like having a bereavement... and yet I may well have had enough by then and be eager to step off the boat. I really don't think that will be the case. Despite the cold, despite the sometimes frustrating conditions, despite the knocks and bruises, the wet bunks, the lack of sleep and the aching limbs, I've caught the sailing bug and am in no rush to find a cure.