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St. Lucia Tourism Board Welcome Party -PLUS- Celebrating the last hours at sea

Last night kicked off the festivities at ARC 2012 in earnest, as the St. Lucia Tourist Board hosted their annual Welcome Party, this year held at the Bay Gardens Beach Resort.

From just before 7pm last night, the official ARC taxis began shuttling people around to Rodney Bay proper, where the Bay Gardens is located near Reduit Beach, and the event quickly filled up with sailors eager to share sea stories and good times. Upwards of 85 boats had made landfall in St. Lucia by the time the party started, making for a very festive atmosphere.

It was another busy night in the ARC office, as over 20 boats arrived into Rodney Bay between 8pm last night and 8pm this morning, keeping the 'Yellow Shirts' busy throughout the night. The Ocean Club has been kind enough to sponsor coffee for the night staff at the ARC office, which has been very happily received.

At press time, 104 boats had crossed the finish line off Pigeon Island (including ARC veteran and Antarctic explorer Malaika, who just finished moments ago), and there looks to be a bit of a lull mid-morning before the excitement ramps up again this afternoon.

"This is our last night out on the big open ocean," wrote Lady Ann in their online log, who is expected to arrive later today. "We spend it with mixed feelings: eager to step ashore, have a good shower and a sumptuous meaty meal," they continued, surely echoing the sentiments of most of the fleet. "But we're simultaneously realising we are about to end a very special trip."

Indeed the ARC (and any big ocean passage for that matter) is special for all the yachts. But it usually doesn't dawn on them until they arrive and the moment has passed before they know it.

The crew of Lady Ann recognizes that it seems, and are fully appreciating the last few hours at sea. "We will treasure one more watch under the starry sky, running out of wishes because of all the shooting stars, one more rising of a very tiny little horizontal moonsickle, a couple of more downpours under passing squalls, some more sweaty moments in our full foul weather slops, and perhaps some last solitary contemplations on the meaning of life in general."

The ARC programme got off to an early start this morning, with the first of the Zip Line adventure trips departing the marina at 0930. Several ARC sailors took advantage of the big discount on offer to participants, and made the hour-long journey towards the south of the island to experience the rainforest hike/zip line adventure. Two more tours are set for next week. On offer tonight is live music at the Ocean Club in the marina, followed by the IGY Crew Olympics tomorrow and the Anse la Raye fish fry tomorrow night.

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