Following almost three weeks at sea, the bulk of the ARC fleet have been steadily closing in on Saint Lucia and today has seen an almost non-stop buzz of radio calls as boats announce their arrival and proceed to their berth in the marina.
The anticipation of just one or two more nights at sea can lead to mixed feelings on board. Many crews have been planning their adventures for close to a decade, so with arrivals now down to a matter of hours, crews have been taking the time reflect on their crossings.
Vicki, sailing with life-long friends on White Satin wrote, “When my husband David returned from his first ARC in 2006, he took some East Caribbean dollars out of his pocket and said that he wasn't going to change them back into pounds, St Lucia was so beautiful that we must return. It may have taken us 10 years to do so but we are nearly there. It has been an amazing trip and has exceeded our expectations beyond our wildest hopes. Conditions could not have been kinder and the crew couldn't have been more fun or more considerate; after a hectic pace of life in our work and since then with the preparations for the voyage and also the house build, we have certainly learned to chill and this is because we have all worked so well together. There has more than one occasion when I could happily have withdrawn, particularly in the summer, but the others have constantly encouraged me and I have them to thank that I am here, we have done it (almost) and I have no doubt that the elation of arriving will be phenomenal.”
As boats close in on the ARC Finish Line, suddenly the well-rehearsed routine of watches, sleeping, fishing and meal times come to an end as arrival preparations set-in. Fenders are unpacked from the depths of lockers, mooring lines untwisted and a certain level of heightened hysteria sets in as the knowledge that life in a bubble is coming to an end.
“We are all very happy now! The last two hours as we ran down the northern shore were so lovely with Nick on the wheel broad reaching in 20 knots on long ocean rollers and surfing.” Described the crew of Jasmine, “We were in company and had been seeing our fellow transatlantic friends turn up one by one on the radar during last night. From seeing no one for days we ended finishing with 6 or 7 other yachts in sight funnelling down on the finish line. The island is like something out of Treasure Island, lush and hilly and covered in forest. I think we will be happy here!”
Day or night, as each boat sails around Pigeon Island, they hear the magical call, “This is the ARC Finish Line. Welcome to Saint Lucia!!”
Landfall in St Lucia on board Angels' Share after seventeen days at sea. Photograph by Tim Bishop