We made it.

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Fri 9 Dec 2011 03:15
We finally said goodbye to Chaguaramas and Trinidad on Saturday 26th
November after paying our bills, slipping our lines and filling up with
fuel once again.......

Friday, as predicted, went fast and furious as we prepared for sea. There
was a lot of too-ing and fro-ing doing all those last minute bits and
pieces. Susan trekked back and forth in the searing heat buying the last
items from the chandlers (water proofing for the cockpit enclosure) and
making sure that that they had enough fuel on the fuel dock (their radio
was broken so this caused the trek). Meanwhile Andrew was busy with 101
jobs as well as waiting for the vital fuel return valve to be put back in
place on the engine. By 3pm we were just about set for the next day and
were able to enjoy afternoon tea and cake on board Andromeda with Vicky
and Porter from Cinnamon Teal, before treating ourselves to a meal at the
restaurant in the marina.

After a restless nights sleep we were up bright and early and set off for
the fuel dock not long after 9. It was an emotional moment. We refilled
our tank again and made our way through the anchorage in the brilliant
sunshine, motoring gently in the very slight sea, checking our bilges
every 10 minutes or so.........

Once past the Bocas we raised our brand new mainsail, enjoying the
crinkling sound as it crept up the mast – it would be a great advert for
Persil or Ariel – so brilliantly white but as the predicted winds hadn’t
arrived our new genoa had to stay wrapped up for the time being. But hey
we were out on the blue ocean once again, heading for a new horizon and it
felt so good. We settled down into our cruising pattern, Andrew enjoying
being at the wheel and Susan having a snooze as we made our way up towards

There was a lot more traffic to watch on this trip with vessels of various
sizes appearing and disappearing around us and just before 6pm darkness
fell so we put on our new navigation lights, the tricolour and steaming
light and continued.

Sailing at night is quite magical a lot of the time as you can see the
lights of other craft from a long way off and it can take hours for you to
get close enough to work out what is out there. We saw distant lights
that seemed to be heading the same way as ourselves and looked very much
like a giant Christmas decoration at first. We headed towards each other
as we tried to make out what it was and eventually decided that something
big was being towed and realised it was an oil rig platform. Shortly
after this they announced on the radio that they were headed our way so we
altered course to go round the stern of them and by this time it
definitely looked like the spacecraft at the end of close encounters of
the third kind, but upside down.

After this excitement we carried on towards Grenada and motored along in
the calm sea as there was hardly any wind or swell. As light came we left
Grenada behind and for about an hour managed to enjoy our lovely new
sails, then it was back to motoring again. We passed Carriacou and Union
Island when all of a sudden the wind filled in and we enjoyed the ride.
In the stretch of water between Bequia and St. Vincent we saw a huge pod
of dolphins all busy hunting in the sea around us. We carried on sailing
into the sunset then reefed the sails ready for the night – and about 10
mins after this the wind died again so on with the motor.

Making our way up the coast of St. Vincent with puffs of wind now and
again we got ready for leaving the lee of the island where the winds can
suddenly become quite fierce. At first there was very little wind but
suddenly it began to increase and then the rain started and decided to
absolutely pour and in no time at all we were soaked to the skin
especially as our new stak pak for the mainsail had a hidden extra. After
a very short spell of rain, it collected and ran down the boom, then
poured out of the end of the bag as if we had turned on a tap, and as we
didn’t know this was going to happen we ended up with it all down our
necks. We did the only sensible thing and that was to break out the UK
oilies and get warm and dry – it made such a difference.

The rain continued for a few hours as St. Lucia appeared in the gloom and
we headed north up to Rodney Bay. In the lee of St. Lucia conditions were
so different it was quite surreal and the water was so calm and dark it
felt like we were sailing along a road and it was quite disorientating. We
made our way slowly up the coast to time our arrival at Rodney Bay with
first light and so it was that the sun was rising as we actually crossed
the ARC finish line at 05.47am on Monday 28th November 2011, a very
emotional moment for us both, and to celebrate we shared a tiny bottle of

We found a buoy to hang off for a couple of hours and once the office
opened made our way into the marina where much to our surprise we were
suddenly hailed by Lesley and James from Coba Libre, who happened to be on
a jetty and recognised Andromeda as we were going by, so we had a lovely
welcome from them once we had tied up.

We had made it!

So far we haven’t seen much of St. Lucia because we had a couple of things
to sort out, like the auto pilot, generator and outboard and then of
course we had a meeting to see what was required from us for the finish
line. At our meeting with Andrew and Nick we suddenly found ourselves
volunteering for the first night and the first arrivals – this after we
had hung back as we hadn’t actually been there last year, but there were
no other volunteers so we stepped up.

At 3pm on Thursday we made our way out into the bay and, funnily enough,
to the very buoy that we had used when we arrived and once more tied
ourselves on and settled down for the evening. The very first boat to
cross the line this year arrived at about 10 to 11(pm) after a very
bizarre time waiting for the radio calls that should have been made,
however we managed to time Med Spirit as they went over the line and shout
congratulations before waiting for boat number 2 which was only about 45
mins behind them. This was the big tri-maran Rayon Verte but of course as
it was pitch black dark with no stars or moon and no radio contact we had
a hard time making what was happening. Especially as the Med Spirit
decided to go and accompany the Rayon Verte for a time and then crossed
the line again, we so nearly hooted them for a second time as we saw the
big dark shape going for the line but fortunately we were told that it
wasn’t the right boat. Having hooted and cheered Rayon Verte we then had
a few hours rest before the next one was due in at about 4.30am. Again we
had no radio contact until the very last minute but hooted them over the
line too. A call from the office shortly after Phaedo had gone into the
marina gave us some idea of what had gone wrong and we now listened out on
two different frequencies for the arriving boat.

Not only did we make contact with Rothmans, it was also light and it made
things so much easier, we could see them, they could see us, we could feel
a bit more in control and we thoroughly enjoyed their arrival. After this
we had a call from Coal Ila who were to relieve us and after switching off
the light on the finishing line buoy we headed back into the marina. A
few hours later it was confirmed that all the skippers in the ARC fleet
had been told to contact the finish line on a different frequency, so they
were frustrated that no one answered them and we were frustrated that no
one was calling us- such a simple thing but it made so much difference.

Back in the marina we tried to progress the three issues we had discovered
on the way north. After two hours in the lazarette Andrew discovered and
repaired the auto-pilot, one issue resolved – hurrah. Waiting for the
generator man proved fruitless but, because we are part of the ARC finish
line team and had access to the marina and boat-yard managers – a plan
formed!!! And after networking and bending a few ears George from the
boatyard appeared to have a look at the generator and as it was now 5pm on
Friday afternoon suggested a couple of things to try before Monday

On Saturday, the outboard, which had simply refused to start for several
days before being coaxed into a short life after some stern words and the
threat of a tongue lashing, then returned to its recent sulky state. Time
ran out for us and we were back out in the bay for our next 24 hours
shift on the finish line – this time expecting about 11 yachts. After a
lazy morning enjoying the peace and quiet after the Saturday night
karaoke we were joined on board Andromeda by Joan and Ted from motor
yacht Panchita, a couple we had met in Chaguaramas, who on hearing what
we were up to were pleased to be invited to come aboard and see a few
boats across the line. All was quiet until about 4.30 when we swung into
action and the yachts started to arrive and Joan and Ted hooted and
cheered for the two yachts crossing the line in daylight. We then had
another eight over night before two more arrivals Monday morning. The day
was a mixture of rain showers and dry periods. The night brought more
rain and some fresh winds. By 9am all the yachts due had arrived and we
were off duty for a few days. Curiously Andrew started the generator with
a new fuse and lo and behold it ran like a dream for 40 minutes – wow

On our return to the marina we tracked down George from the boat yard who
came to check the outboard and the generator, which by now was behaving
itself after further 45 minute run – had things tuned around for us we
wondered?. A quick strip of the carburettor later and the outboard was
persuaded into life by George so we may now have a working outboard and
generator – testing over the next few days will confirm!!

We now have three days of “quiet time” before we are next due to man the
line on Thursday night – this is promising to be a very busy night as the
bulk of the ARC fleet arrives around this time. No ARC parties just yet
but they should start soon.

And one last thing, somewhere on our trip in and out of the marina here we
managed to pick up a stowaway – unfortunately for him he was pretty noisy
so we cottoned on quite quickly that he was aboard, finding him however
was quite tricky for although he was noisy he was very small and only made
a noise at night- can you guess what he was? We spent several hours moving
bits and pieces each evening before we were convinced he was in the
heating ducts under the sole then on Sunday as Susan was heading to bed
early she thought he sounded very close and pulled up her mattress etc and
there in the corner was the very small chirping cricket and though he
tried valiantly to get away we captured him and released him back into the
night and peace reigned again.

News from back home and Jenny was pleased to announce that Shayla now has
two teeth and she is only just 4 months old.

More in due course.

Susan and Andrew
Andromeda of Plymouth
St. Lucia