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Light Wind at Sea, the ARC Forest, and Parties in Rodney Bay!

175 yachts have now made landfall in St. Lucia. It's been 17 days since the Cruising Class start in Las Palmas, making for a faster-than-average crossing this year. But don't mention that to the boats still at sea.

"What a night we had," wrote Salsa of Stavsnäs this morning in their log. "No wind, no waves, just a silk smooth swell, stars all the way to the horizon. Some so low you thought they where lanterns from ships. One of the stars I named tonight, the Lantern Star."

More ARC yachts arrived this morning in St. Lucia.
While it's slow going for Salsa and the rest of the fleet still out there, it didn't seem like they minded much, instead taking the quiet time to reflect on the ocean and life itself. "Sitting watching this bright stars, the milky way so grand, so vast, so... empty. Makes me feel small," wrote Salsa. "Life is so small and short."

The words from Salsa's crew echo the sometimes unspoken truth about ocean sailing and how after days and weeks at sea, everything starts to come together, the frustrations and stresses of the voyage seem to melt away, and a quiet, calm night can feel liberating instead of smothering.

The ARC Programme ashore, meanwhile, has provided ample entertainment for the crews here in Rodney Bay Marina, definitely a marked departure from life afloat.

"Friday night in Anse La Raye was fantastic," offered Mats Gustavsson of Amoress 2 (who, in fact, was the winner overall in the Cruising Division in 2009). Mats and some of his crew were along for the boat ride down to the village for their Friday night fish fry and street party, which was highlighted in yesterday's Feature Story on the ARC website.

"This I can recommend to everyone to do next time," Mats continued. "Anse la Raye was a poor fishing village, and the people were so friendly and everything was perfect. We went to some local bars. It was fantastic."

While Mats and many other have taken full advantage of the events on the ARC programme, others, have pursued other, shall we say, leisurely activities.

"What tends to happen," said Christian, skipper of perennially ARC entrant Northern Child

, "is that having been at sea for a long time, people tend to come in and get a little bit drunk!" While Christian tends to the boat - which maintains a busy charter schedule immediately following the ARC - his guests find themselves ashore, indulging. They are not alone.

"I'm looking forward to the IGY Cocktail party," added Jacko of Lancelot II. "This sounds really bad," he continued, "but it's always drinking events we like!"

Waterfall outside Dennery, a welcome break during the tree-planting project.

That's not all there is to do here, of course. Just yesterday, in fact, World Cruising's Managing Director Andrew Bishop led a group of ARC participants down to Dennery, a village on the southern, windward side of the island for the inaugural ARC Forest environmental project here in St. Lucia.

"Basically, the new project here in St. Lucia is to complement the ARC Forest that we started in Las Palmas to mark the 25th anniversary of the ARC," he said. "We've been looking for a project here in St. Lucia to continue our commitment to the environment, in terms of helping to offset any carbon generated by the ARC itself. We're now working with the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry and the Rotary Club," Andrew continued.

He and the participants traveled south to the Dennery river valley and planted a mixture of trees in conjunction with some students and local residents. The aim was to help preserve the river bank, which had been badly eroded in the floods of two years ago.

Local fishing boats on the beach in Dennery.
"The trees that were planted are all native trees to St. Lucia," Andrew noted, "but more importantly they're crop trees. We were planting spice trees, lime trees, walnut trees. Because the locals are going to benefit from them, they're more likely to look after them," he said.

Sam and Ivory of Coral IV were along for the project yesterday. The photos in the story are in fact thanks to Sam and Ivory.

"It was really, really good fun," they agreed. "We didn't expect anything in particular, we just thought it would be a worthy thing to do, but it was actually a lot of fun."

The Dennery river valley.
The forest project was followed up by a visit to the village of Dennery itself, a small fishing hamlet miles away - both literally and figuratively - from Rodney Bay.

"It was very, very beautiful," they said. "Very nice to get out of Rodney Bay and just see something different."

The programme continues daily, of course. Earlier this afternoon was the St. Lucia Yacht Club's 'ARC Kid's Rally,' which pitted young locals against ARC children, which they sailed in local J/24s. Tomorrow morning crews have a chance to tour the Unicorn, a local tall ship that was used in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, while later on in the evening is the highly anticipated IGY General Manager's Cocktail at the Ocean Club in Rodney Bay Marina.

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