Today is Saint Lucia Day, the official start to Christmas here on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Independent since 1979, Helene of the West Indies continues to attract tourists from around the world with her stunning landscape and a vibrant culture.
After many months of enforced quiet, the marina is coming alive with the arrival of both ARC and ARC+ fleets and for those professionals based in Rodney Bay it is a very welcome sight and their first opportunity to open doors since the beginning of the year.
ARC+ saw the last boat to cross the line yesterday, Emelin a Malo 42 with the double handed crew Nina and Eirik delighted to be in the Caribbean. An hour earlier Weyve a Beneteau 393, another double handed crew crossed the line with a sense of relief having managed to keep the electronics going with only solar power for most of the journey from Cape Verde after their alternator developed a fault. With huge smiles, Kevin and Janet let it slip “we have achieved our 40 year ambition to sail the Atlantic and now have the whole Caribbean to explore”.
On the whole weather conditions this year were kind and everyone has had time to use those downwind sails. With their Parasailor in use for 80% of the journey, Sven Ullman on Ydalir II has had a thrilling experience and when asked would you cross again, his wife Anna said “I loved every minute of it”. Their journey doesn’t end here for them as their sights are set on a circumnavigation.
Passion, commitment and dedication has not dirtied some of the ARC regulars. We welcome Manfred Kerstan ‘Mr ARC’ on Albatros who having taken part in the very first ARC in 1986, has completed the ARC a staggering 25 times! Fellow boat Peter von Seestermühe also took part in 1986 and 2020 notches up a 7th ARC crossing for skipper Christoph Von Reibnitz. Two further boats have competed their 5th crossing this year and also sailed on to complete previous World ARC rallies, Bones and Anna on their Bowman 57, Emily Morgan, and Lars Hedman on Sandvita.
With the docks filling up the atmosphere is one of jubilation as crews exchange stories, clean and repair their boats and explore Saint Lucia. For some, just relaxing on the deck soaking up the Caribbean sunshine is pure heaven.
With a modified programme, this year sees the cooking demonstrations move online offering crews the opportunity to see them before a question and answer session hosted by World Cruising Club Director, Jeremy Wyatt. With two more demos to be released over the next week, crews will be able to pick up all sorts of tips for cooking the local produce available on the Farmers Market located in the marina.
Saint Lucia has many mystical and beautiful parts to offer. Participants have the opportunity to go on private tours, cultural walks, trips to Pigeon Island and visits the sandy Caribbean beaches.
Prizegiving this year takes place on the pontoons and tomorrow, Monday 14 December, the ARC+ 2020 fleet will be celebrating their Atlantic successes. The ARC 2020 Prizegiving is on Saturday 19 December. With fun entertainment planned these spectacular events will be seen and heard by everyone on the docks. It’s certain to raise the atmosphere and complete a truly memorable, and for many, an emotional crossing.
The ARC fleet continue to arrive with the final boat due to arrive into Rodney Bay on 19 December, just in time for their Prizegiving.