St Lucia, Thursday, 19/12/2013

David Batten
Fri 20 Dec 2013 13:59
Monday. 16/12/2013. Jane left today.  We went to Rodney Bay village in the morning to do some shopping before seeing Jane off in a taxi to catch her flight to Miami and then on to BA. 

Hard to believe the whole trans-Atlantic trip is coming to an end after all the planning and preparation from launch last year to Gibraltar in May, the Canaries in June and now St Lucia in December.  The ARC definitely gives a focus that means we were well prepared with regards to safety equipment, stores, water, fuel, rigging checks and weather forecasts.  What we were not so prepared for was the variety of weather and complete absence of trade winds to start with and the very confused and big seas.  The crew were fantastic and we had excellent meals and the boat was kept safe and clean.  The night skies were at times fabulous and we had some balmy days, with magic moments like when a huge pod of dolphins jumped and played around the boat, when a brown booby circled around us and fished on our starboard side and when the beautiful  tropicbirds visited us.  What we missed was the set and forget type of sailing that means you have time to relax and enjoy the passing of time, the rhythm of the boat in the Atlantic swell, the pattern of the day and night watches and life on a yacht that is making steady progress in a boundless sea.  What we got was ever varying winds and a confused and at times unkind sea, that would have you breathless and surfing at 12 to13 knots one minute and then rolling like a pig the next, emptying the sails and waking the sleeping crew or spilling supper/drinks/whatever or drenching the dough carefully placed on the cockpit floor.  We steered most of the time when on watch to try and make the most of the following seas and variable wind and to try and minimise the rolling, so did not have as much time to pursue other activities when on watch.  Off watch was sleeping or eating or preparing meals or blogs or emails.   What did we all do before Satellite links and iPads?  We motored sailed in the lulls, both to keep up the distance covered and to stop the mainsail slating as this made the boat shudder horribly and would surely have lead to breakages.  We did nothing heroic except stop the saloon table from decapitating David B, the crew finished fit and well and the boat did not suffer any serious damage and there were no big bills for repairs.  We avoided the worst of the weather and were lucky in our crossing, altogether a good outcome even if we have won no prizes and gained no glory.  Even better, D and S were not at any time sea sick, so thank you Simon for the patches and thank God for Scopolamine!  A special thank you also to the lunch time cook who produced great coffee and fabulous lunches and the Ship's Boy, who is spreading rumours of working all day baking bread, cleaning, cooking supper, washing up and then spending the night chained to the helm.  No one else remembers it like this, but we do remember a metamorphosis into Mr Toad, with murmurs of "more sail, more sail, faster, faster".  A very happy Mr Toad it was when we clocked a 210 mile day.

Well, it is history now and with Jane heading for a plane, the rest of us head for the beach and a swim and a much anticipated Pinacolada at the a Spinnaker Bar, courtesy of David G.  Just what the doctor ordered.  Can't even remember what happened after that, but there must have been some packing, more rum and a last supper for David G and Venetia.  Supper was St Lucia lobster, bought at great expense from 2 dodgy looking boat boys in the morning.  They were definitely not well by supper time and did not put up a fight when dropped into boiling water in a huge pan borrowed from our neighbours on Sophie .  With a garlic mayonnaise, they were delicious.

Tuesday.  Venetia is keen to go to the market at Castries before catching her flight, so off in good time to catch the local bus.  David G elects not to come, so we leave him in charge of the boat and spend a happy couple of hours buying cinnamon and other local products, huge avocados (not cheap) and bananas for virtually nothing.  Not much bargaining though, as there are two huge cruise liners in town and prices in the flea market are hugely inflated.  After avocado salad, we say goodbye to Venetia and David, so now we are two.  Thank you to all for the grand job of cleaning the guest accommodation, the heads were spotless David and the hoovering and topside polishing.  

In the afternoon, it was a talk on sailing in the Caribbean, good for a reminder about keeping an on deck look out for the reefs and the need for Polaroid sunglasses.  Then a charming presentation from a 26 year old French boy about travelling and living with and as a peasant in Europe, Asia and New Guinea.  Very interesting, amusing and thought provoking and what a wise head on young shoulders.

Wednesday.  Now the galley still smells of lobster and it is time to really get out the cif.  It takes all Wednesday am to get rid of the smell, so the boat now has a barbecue and a ban on fish preparation and cooking below decks.  We have also bought some fishing equipment as recommended by the Heart of Gold crew, but success seems very dubious at this point.  There has also been a lot of washing strewn around the decks as the early morning showers have cleared and the lockers under the bunks are given the once over.  Wednesday pm is time for visiting, with a farewell party on Axonite and drinks and more info on places to go from Claire and Tim on Ghost.  Axonite is a real show piece and we get to know Marc a little better.  Hugo is great and maybe, if we are lucky, our paths will cross again.  Ghost give us wonderful rum punch and nibbles and share some of their vast knowledge of this cruising ground and it is great that  they are now members of the RCC.  We then go out for more rum and a bite to eat with another couple, Susie and Tom from Adina.  

Thursday.  More cleaning and the boat looks quite tidy when Marc and Hugo come for a coffee and look round before saying goodbye, then the laundry arrives and we discover the aft locker under our bunk has water in it, so it is chaos again!  Today has been a bit more chilled as we go back to a life of two on a boat and start thinking about plans for Christmas, but the winch top has not arrived yet and we will be too late to make Antigua in good time for Christmas Day, so we are not making any plans except we need to shop tomorrow.  Tonight is another party on the beach near Pigeon Island and tomorrow is another day, so off to shower and see what dressing up as Vegas looks like.

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