With a steady flow of yachts reaching IGY Rodney Bay Marina, the dockside in Saint Lucia is already buzzing as more and more boats arrive. To date 58 of 72 ARC+ boats have now arrived and 18 ARC boats out of the 209 now expected, further swelling the numbers. ARC sailors stroll the pontoons, looking out for buddie boats to greet and catch up after the 2,000nm sail from Mindelo, or a longer 2700 from Las Palmas. A cheerful hello and a welcome first, then a conversation that always starts with “How was it for you?”.
As the thrill of arrival fades, and the fatigue of the crossing is slept off, aided by the ice-cold rum punch welcome drinks, there are boat jobs to attend to. Boats get a well-deserved clean; decks and rigging washed clear of salt; lifejackets and lanyards and rinsed and hung up to dry as well. In fact most boats resemble a jumble-sale or laundry for a day or so after arrival. However, once spruced up again, above and below decks then it is time to chill. The anxiety of the crossing, the stress of preparing a boat, the emotions of leaving home and family begin to fade and the warm sunshine and chilled vibe of Saint Lucia work their magic and ARC sailors become Caribbean Cruisers.
“We took a sabbatical from our jobs, and have had a hectic few months to prepare our boat Billio for the ARC” said skipper Jack Wills relaxing in the cockpit of the Bavaria 39. “Now we are relaxing into the Caribbean lifestyle, which seems a world away from our busy lives back in the UK” he continued. With boat jobs done for the day, a small flotilla of boats headed across Rodney Bay for a beach barbecue and afternoon of relaxing; a welcome introduction to Caribbean cruising for some of the new arrivals.
At sea the fleet are having mixed fortunes with the winds this year. Those boats that opted for a rhumb line course on the shortest distance to Saint Lucia are having to cope with fickle light winds and have not yet experienced the trade winds. Further south, on the traditional “south until the butter melts” route, boats are now enjoying comfortable if not fast sailing with winds around 12-15 knots. “We are enjoying decent winds and are making good speed towards St Lucia. We have heard we are moving up the field after a slow start chasing the wind past the Cape Verde Islands.” Wrote crewman Bob on Skyelark of London in their blog today.
However, after the calm days and flat seas of earlier, those with the wind are now experiencing the endless rolling caused by Atlantic swells, pushed along by the tradewinds. “The hours pass very agreeably, though it has to be said the sizeable swell and rolling of the boat make cooking, serving up food and activities such as showering quite a challenge. “ admitted Fiona from White Satin in their blog.
More and more boats are now through the magic “1,000 nautical mile to go” point and for them the excitement of arrival builds as the numbers on the boat’s log drop into triple then double figures. Until then there is work to be done to keep their boats moving and their sails filled. Chillin’ time is postponed for a while.