La Cigale - Day 24 - 12 December - St Lucia!!!
"Hark how the sailors' cry,
Joyously echoes nigh
Santa Lucia... Santa Lucia!"
- Neopolitan folk song
As a child, I would sit by my mother at the piano, singing my heart out while she played from an American book of folk songs from around the world. The one above was one of my favourites. Now it has popped into my head as we arrived in St Lucia at 7.30am this morning, appropriately on the eve of the feast day of St Lucy. Growing up, as the youngest and called Lucy, I would take coffee and cakes to the family first thing in the morning of 13th December, with a candle on the tray. Here in St Lucia, I am delighted to find not only is the 13th a national holiday, but it kicks off this evening with a Festival of Lights and Renewal, a promenade of lanterns, masqueraders and fireworks. Talk about timing!
Words fail to describe the feeling crossing the finish line between an orange buoy and a boat with a red flag, the kids and I singing our La Cigale song as we did so! We were welcomed on the pontoon by Arc, foghorns and a crowd including our friends from Into The Blue, Raftkin, Tranquilo, Kapalai and Mad Monkey, and the day began with a celebratory chilled rum punch.
It has been quite an adventure, and a miracle we have made it within the window of time allotted given we reckon our detour north in the first week, effectively doubling back on ourselves at one point, cost us hundreds of extra miles. Credit to our terrific Skipper! Over the course of these three weeks and 3,200 miles, we really feel as though we've got the measure of this boat, in which we first set sail barely a month before, brand new on her maiden voyage. It is also quite something to think that, despite the vast sailing experience of three out of the four adults (i.e. not me!) we are all ocean-crossing virgins, like La Cigale. We've had one gennaker rip, done daily battle with another, had pulleys explode on us, a handle wrenched off a hatch with the whip of a sheet, and all sorts of little technical quibbles. Our solar panels never gave us enough energy, fuel reserves are low, but the food provisioning was spot on! Our newly mended watermaker has worked like clockwork t
he whole way, after a few more tweaks on our part, so we still smell sweeter than a flying fish!
In terms of domestic accidents, we've come through relatively unscathed, bar the time I walked into an invisible glass door on dawn watch, or sailed down the stairs, twice, in my deck shoes, only to land a tin of kidney beans on my foot while cooking barefoot. Still, all minor accidents and I'm hugely relieved that I haven't had to put into practice lessons learned in a great marine First Aid course at Chichester Harbour before we left the UK, and our defibrillator is still in the box!
Crossing with the ARC has really stood us in good stead. Being on a family pontoon in Las Palmas was terrific, as was the kids club - the children have all made good friends and what a reunion they are having now! In terms of the advice in the talks given, we took away nuggets of gold from every one, whether in terms of investing in pumps for 8 litre bottles of water or, for me, how to recognise Orion, thereby unlocking the entire night sky. And then there were are all the excursions and socials that were so much fun.
A huge thank you from all the crew on La Cigale to all the ARC team, and to those of you who have joined us on this journey. We have been really touched, and encouraged, by all the messages we have been getting. La Cigale is not just the sum of her current crew, but those who have come before, and those who are to come (again!):
so here's to you Rich, and our Moerman-Van Hees cousins Tom and Marianne, Ella and Aline. And to my brother Jonathan, we have the champagne on ice you brought us on board back in La Rochelle, and look forward to raising a toast tonight! Cheers to you all!
Lucy, Xavier, Francis, Isabelle, Catherine, Helen and Harley