Four days until start day and the clock is ticking, so there’s a hive of activity around the docks as well as in the ARC shop and Information Centre. With the last two boats due to arrive later today, the majority are now in Las Palmas marina and most crew members have arrived to familiarise themselves with the boat and to help with final preparations. Local services and suppliers are busy dropping off van loads of provisions to boats on the docks, including large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables from the local market, litres of water and supermarket deliveries, with what seems enough food to feed an army - or in this case, the hungry crew on board! Food and cooking during the Atlantic crossing is an important part of the daily routine and something that everyone looks forward to as they get into the rhythm of their transatlantic adventure.
Participants had a preview of what’s in store on their arrival in the Caribbean as representatives from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, Events Company Saint Lucia and IGY Rodney Bay Marina gave an informative seminar certain to whet the appetite of the arriving sailors. First up, Nicole Compton introduced the island with ‘her’ natural stunning beauty, and then an update on the COVID regulations currently in place. IGY Rodney Bay Marina Manager Sean Devaux was then able to specifically advise on the marine protocols for arrival, and gave an overview of the wealth of services available for participants within the marina when they arrive. From restaurants to boutique shopping, repair shops to markets with local produce, IGY Rodney Bay Marina is an excellent arrival point after the Atlantic crossing, with Sean and his team used to assisting with anything the sailors may need.
Explaining what’s in store on the programme, Lavelle DuBouvois said that the fun starts right from arriving on the dock when participants will receive a bottle of local Chairman’s Reserve Rum and a basket of local produce. During the arrival programme, there will be a chance to watch a cooking demonstration from a local Lucian chef and a specialist mixologist will demonstrate a few cocktail-making ideas, all from produce which participants will receive in their arrival basket. There will also be a lecture from cruising guru Chris Doyle, and social functions arranged within Saint Lucia’s COVID protocols.
The ARC seminar and workshop programme continued in the afternoon with ARC weather man and round the world sailor Chris Tibbs, whose guide to the Atlantic crossing and Routing & Weather was well attended at the Metropole Club and live on Zoom. Astronavigation specialist, Stokey Woodall then gave an informative guide to the Atlantic Night Sky, which is something that all sailors are in awe of as they cross the vast ocean en route to Saint Lucia. Later in the evening, it was time for the 2021 ARC Farewell drinks function at TAO club close to the marina. With its Caribbean theme it is sure to get participants in the mood for their arrival in the tropics!
It’s been busy in the ARC shop today too as crews have been buying ARC T-shirts and other rally souvenirs for themselves and as gifts for friends and family back home. The ‘Not to be used for navigation’ slogan on the back is as popular as ever, and the Tourist Information desk has had requests for places to visit on the island for those who have enough time to explore the sights of Gran Canaria before they head south.
Las Palmas marina has very good facilities for ARC sailors, with an abundance of restaurants and cafes where participants can enjoy local Canarian and international food. After a hard day of pre-start preparation, a sundowner at one of the watering holes, such as the Sailors Bar, opposite the ARC office is always popular. Local Canarios and tourists alike also come down each day to soak up the atmosphere and see the colourful spectacle that the ARC brings to the city each year.
As another day draws to a close there’s a few days left to sort out last minute checks and to carry out the necessary procedures like PCR testing for all crew members (organised by World Cruising Club), the Skippers Briefing and all the formal processes ahead of their departure from Gran Canaria.