Another Caribbean Christmas

 

The ARC+ & ARC is all over for another year, amazing to think it was us arriving 12 months ago. This year as previously mentioned we were one of the finish line boats, something we’ll remember for a long time, such a great experience to be part of. We were first out on the line to give a very special welcome to the first arrival, and ended up staying out for 72 hours straight!!! One of the other yachts which had agreed to take part on the line failed to turn up so we stepped in. It was a long time out in the bay remembering yachts arrive day or night but sleep just wasn’t a problem due to the excitement of talking to them on the radio and blowing the air horn as they crossed the line. Some yachts must have forgotten how to sail upwind as they made a bit of a mess trying to get in, all commented with laughter on the radio how funny it must’ve looked having sailed across the Atlantic only to mess up the last mile ! What stood out for us was listening to the huge cheers from boat crews with arms in the air to watching the first yacht over the line in the ARC. We found out later this was a family crew of 4 on a French catamaran, they approached us in the dark at 14 knots and we saw somebody at the bow shouting down the seconds to hitting our stern, at the last second they tacked (turned) to cross the line hardly slowing down which was an incredible sight. What made this so special too was they were in ahead of some serious Volvo Ocean racing yachts.

And then there was the tale of the British yacht in the racing division who missed the line…. I should explain naming no names of course. When yachts approach the line they are told to call the finish line yacht 2 miles away for instructions. Of the approximately 80 yachts we timed across the line only 3 didn’t. Although electronic navigation is excellent, the finish line isn’t always in the exact spot due to for example some local placing a load of fishing pots in the way or a cruise ship deciding to anchor in the way. The finish line yacht radios the exact position and what to look for…. so back to this British racing yacht, who arriving after dark, for their own reasons decided not to make contact even after we saw them coming and called to offer information. We watched as they screamed past us the wrong side of the line being chased by the official photographer. He was duly advised that in order to receive a finish he needed to turn around and do it again… I’d like to think a conversation took place about correct communication, perhaps their radio wasn’t working though 😉

This photo is of the first ARC+ yacht over the line with Silhouette in the background. We ended up doing 6 24 hour shifts on the line and would thoroughly recommend it to anybody to get involved, it was nearly as exciting as when we crossed the line ourselves.

We also were there to welcome Tony & Sue “Mirabella” and James & Bex (Hepzibah) who were on the ARC+. The added surprise was they were not expecting Caroline or Charlotte to be able to fly out to greet… boy were they surprised. James & Bex must’ve picked up an eye infection as they both had very watery eyes!  

As part of the ARC team, we were offered a free marina berth when not on the line which was lovely and unexpected (well done and thank you WCC), which is in the commercial dock area. When we tried to return to it a local fishing boat was in it so the dock master said  it was no problem as he had no right at all to be there… and subsequently moved it to the middle of the lagoon and dropped its anchor. You should’ve seen the guy when he came back to see his boat but not able to get to it!!!

 

After the prize giving it was time to say goodbye to everyone and we headed off away from St Lucia’s Marigot Bay for one last time, up to Martinique in “sporty” conditions. From there the next day it was straight up to Portsmouth in Dominica and the next day up to Pigeon Island in Guadeloupe for Christmas day in the marine park.

We left Guadeloupe at midnight on Christmas day for an overnight sail north to Antigua where we will spend celebrating New Year with friends.

So this is our last island in the Caribbean before heading east to Europe in May, as Islands go this is rather nice !!!

Our hatch covers which we bought just before leaving the UK have now completely fallen to bits, the UV here in the tropics is relentless, so I had some spare sunbrella fabric and made some new ones by hand… the result looking pretty good too 🙂

 

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