"So, how was it for you?"
This is probably the most frequently asked question on the dockside in Rodney Bay Marina currently, as crews reunite with friends made in Las Palmas and new friends made by encounters with other ARC boats whilst at sea. Having sailed across 3,000NM of Atlantic Ocean together, there is now a real feeling of camaraderie amongst the crews who have reached the sunny shores of Saint Lucia.
There is no doubt that this year, the weather has been the talking point for dockside chats; its impact on routing, crew fatigue, boat gear and sails. For some the strong, persistent trade winds have brought an exciting and exhilarating ride across. “It’s ended too soon!” was the unanimous comment from the young crew of Hanse 411 Monkii, all friends from Sweden – average age on board of 30! They loved the waves and the thrills of hand steering down big ocean swells.
For others, it has been more of a bruising experience, coping with the confused seas and waves kicked-up by an unusual cut-off low pressure to the north of the Azores. This stationary depression was relentless in sending swells south, to encounter this season’s strong trade winds pushing across from the NE at 25kts and more in the gusts. “It was like a washing machine out there” commented Jane Halling of Oyster 55 Magic Dragon who arrived late last night (9th /10th Dec).
The crew of Magic Dragon and their new friends from Charlotte Jane II arrived to a wonderful dockside welcome, as more than 100 crews turned out to greet them. It was a bittersweet arrival for skipper Paul and the crew of Charlotte Jane, whose on Atlantic adventure ended suddenly, mid-ocean when a catastrophic steering failure left their boat disabled, and un-steerable in the large and confused seas. With assistance from Polygala and JK Sail, the crew safely transferred to Magic Dragon, to finish their transatlantic journey. After forming an unexpected friendship through adversity, it was an emotional farewell, as the crews parted shoreside today.
As the sun started dipping here in Saint Lucia, more than 90 boats have now arrived, with still more expected overnight, passing the 100 mark tomorrow morning. No doubt there will be many more greetings dockside tomorrow, starting out with a “How was it for you?”.