The 200th boat in the ARC 2011 fleet is due in early morning on the 13th, and only a couple handfuls more remain at sea. Those in port finally have a chance to relax after more than three weeks at sea.
Onboard Hanami II, a French-flagged Ovni 445, a hot afternoon in the St. Lucia sun was refreshed by icy cold drinks in the shade of the cockpit.
"Nothing like a good rum and pineapple juice to take the heat off," said crewmember Darren Ladd.
Darren and David Holmes, two brits, were last-minute sign-ons to Hanami II, joining French skipper Marc Elbet in Las Palmas when his less-experienced crew jumped ship. For the three of them, the Atlantic crossing was a first.
"We had a fantastic time," remarked David. "The three of us got along famously."
"It was my first crossing as well," Marc said. "The other guys I had onboard claimed to have had experience, but could not handle the night watches," he continued. "Darren and David signed on at the last minute and joined me only a few days before the start, but it worked out wonderfully."
For his part, Marc took pleasure in providing for his new mates in the galley. The three of them ate well on the crossing, catching more fish than they could eat and enjoying the salted ham they bought in Las Palmas, which was still fresh after 21 days at sea. Darren grew a proper sailors beard during the crossing, though admitting that it was mostly for 'the look' - with an onboard watermaker, the crew could shower almost at will.
"We were pretty spoiled," said Darren. "I need to at least look the part."
Both Darren and David plan on returning to Europe with Marc on the ARC Europe rally, departing Tortola in the BVI in early May.
The fine weather on the island during the last few days has been a welcome respite from the squally, rainy conditions that the front of the fleet experienced last week. But it has also turned the heat up in Rodney Bay Marina. The midday hours when the sun is high in the sky make it nearly impossible to be out of the shade.
Crews have been escaping into the cafes in the marina complex or hiding in their shaded cockpits. A group of ARC kids found relief playing football under the big tent in the grass that will host the Rodney Bay Marina 'General Managers' party tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. Annually a popular event, the GM party should be especially exciting this year as almost all of the fleet will be on the island.
The ARC program continues on Wednesday with a talk on cruising the Caribbean by popular guidebook writer Chris Doyle. Doyle's talk will take place at 1500 hours in the Palm Haven Hotel, a few hundred meters down the street from the marina entrance.