16th April 2011
I am in an emotional turmoil. Today is our last day of the World Arc Rally. I woke earlier than normal and couldn't settle to any particular thing. At ten o'clock we made our preparations to leave. With all our bunting and assorted club flags we made a colourful sight as we formed a procession outside the entrance to Marigot Bay, Eowyn the lead boat with Wild Tigris, the biggest at 72 ft bringing up the rear. We remarked that trying to sail in an orderly line at such close quarters was just about the hardest thing we had had to do on the entire trip! Our wind instrument suddenly came to life after a long absence, how contrary is that! We slowly made our way up the west coast to Castries where we were joined by many local boats. As we circled around the harbour a huge dark could formed above and then, the heavens opened! We played 'Auld Lang Syne' over the VHF and then others followed suit with the most imaginative and appropriate medley of songs, such as Van Morrison's 'Brown Eyed Girl' to Queen's 'We are the champions' to 'Rocking all over the world' finishing with Louis Armstrong's 'What a wonderful world'! It was a real party atmosphere. As soon as we docked in Rodney Bay Marina we went for free nibbles and drinks at the Boardwalk Bar with a steel band playing. One celebration followed another. Lisa and Sandro held a pontoon rum punch and canapé party. Lisa stood on the foredeck and gave a lovely speech and in it she quoted Mike from Eowyn who said that God does not count the sailing days! Then it was time for our final rally evening function. We all piled into waiting taxis which took us to the beautiful Royal St. Lucian Hotel for dinner and the awards ceremony. Every boat received their around the world certificate and plaque, plus a 'mystery' gift which turned out to be a book made up with pictures of all the boats and crews and postcard snapshots of all the landfalls throughout our trip. Paul introduced each boat with a lovely personal message. It was such a shame that Aileen and Stephen of A Lady were not there to share in such a happy event but at least all the crew of Basia were there, hitching a lift aboard Destiny, their crippled boat still ashore in Grenada Marine.
Last time we partied around the world. This time we have partied and sailed! We have to thank the World ARC for the experience, I thank David for taking me along with him but most of all we are indebted to Voyageur for taking us on that journey and bringing us safely home.
A thousand thanks to you our faithful followers. I thank you my blog readers for all your enthusiastic support. It gave us a real boost to know that you followed us on our sea journey. Some of you we have lucky enough to meet in person but even if I have not met you then I felt I know you a little through your emails and messages.
But it has been very important for me to write this blog. Not just for the followers and friends of the World ARC but more selfishly it was written for us. For one day David and I can sit in the comfort of our own armchairs and relive this amazing fifteen month adventure through our stories. What were the highlights? Completing a second circumnavigation two up of course! On a journey that has taken us across three more oceans and through countless cruising grounds. People ask David what is the worst thing that happened on the voyage and he always says that it was when a bottle of good malt whisky broke spilling all its contents in the bilges! But we have completed this second circumnavigation on what must be one of the most reliable yachts ever built and our tribute must be to Henri Amel for the concept and the making of these immensely strong and seaworthy and fast, yes fast, thanks to Donald's great contribution on the Richards Bay to Cape Town leg. This must surely have tested us and Voyageur the most, although the Indian Ocean in its entirety proved to be our greatest adversary. Anyway we are supremely happy. We have achieved all that we set out to do, to sail around the world again, in the company of a group of like-minded sailors, on a different route and we have made it back to our starting off point of Rodney Bay in comfort and safety. But our biggest tribute is to our family back home in Scotland who had the understanding and patience to allow us to fulfil our ambitions. We miss them all so much and are so excited to be going home to see them again. We have lived for the past fifteen months in what we call 'our boat bubble world', oblivious to all but the most mundane of day to day activities. I know they were the 'competition' but we would never like to forget the Blue Water Rally. They marked the very beginning of our long distance cruising.... World Cruising Club, there for us at the end.
If the question was asked of every World ARC boat what their favourite destination was you would get seventeen different answers. Here is mine. The San Blas Islands are undeniably beautiful but too many yachts now take up annual residence there. The Galapagos Islands are the most extraordinary place on earth. They are unique for their abundance of wildlife. Then there are the Marquesas, hauntingly beautiful with a rich culture. The Tuamotus are in complete contrast with their tiny palm tree atolls. And how could we forget about Vanuatu. The smoking, smouldering volcano on Tanna, the offering of gifts ceremony, and the children singing 'This land is our land, this land is your land'. Finally, there is the Great Barrier Reef, through the remoteness and beauty of the Hinchinbrook Channel in the Whitsunday Islands, to be followed by the desolation of Queensland and the Northern Territories, one of last great wildernesses of the world. Oh, I could go and on..... But suddenly it occurs to me that I talk only of the Pacific. Yes, it is the Pacific that fascinates, and I could happily spend years there. It is no wonder Bernard Moitessier sailed on in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968 and returned there. And yet we have really only just scratched the surface but we are well content. We have covered a lot of ground and you can never do it all but realistically we know that our long distance voyaging is at an end and we are ready to go home. Our family will hardly recognize us, our friends may barely remember us but we have memories that will endure.
It has not just been another amazing adventure for us but a journey of new discoveries, of sailing challenges, of a test of our own strengths and weaknesses, but above all a continuing love affair with the sea and each other which is everlasting.......
I found this quotation by the famous English poet William Wordsworth in a book I was reading as we crossed the Pacific and thought it perfectly summed up our trip.
'I travelled among unknown men in lands beyond the sea'
Thank you World Arc for helping us to achieve that.