Chiscos - Atlantic Cruise
John Simpson
Tue 20 Dec 2011 22:28
13:51.391n 061:04.016w
The final few days of the ARC 2011 passed by in a flurry of social events around Rodney Bay in St Lucia and days spent wondering where the time had gone!  Susan arrived to join Chiscos on Thursday 15th December, and has now resumed blog duties.  That evening the crew attended the Fancy Dress beach party with the theme 'Thriller'.  There were some ghoulish sights on the beach as mummies danced with bleeding corpses and Michael Jackson lookalikes attempted to moonwalk.  John, Mikaela and Susan were joined by James from 'Beyzano'.
Friday evening was spent in Gros Islet, a short walk from Rodney Bay, where there is a weekly 'jump up'.  This involves closing the main street so that food stalls can fry and sell fish, chicken, pork ribs and other local foods.  Huge speakers are set up to play reggae music into the night and there are bars and stalls selling cold beers and local rum.  The food was very nice and the atmosphere was great.  Mikaela and I tried the local spiced rum which is sold from demi-johns stuffed full of spice leaves and stalks.  The rum is supposed to be infused with the flavour of the spices.  You can tell by the look on our faces that this particular batch maybe wasn't as good as it could have been.  The local drains probably benefited from a good clean that night as we tipped our rum away!
Saturday night (17th Dec) was the final prize giving night for the ARC rally.  We travelled from Rodney Bay to a large night club a couple of miles away.  We were greeted with rum punch and a steel band in the garden in true Caribbean style.  As night fell we went into a huge auditorium to hear the prize giving speeches and applaud the winners.  Prizes were given for many sailing classes; Chiscos had finished 8th in her class and 58th in the cruising division, a creditable result for one of the smallest and heaviest of the yachts.  The final three awards were special trophies.  Vaquita had won a trophy for contributions to Humanity and the Environment as they were using their trip to raise money for an Environmental charity.  Time Bandit, our friends first met in Spain, won the Spirit of the ARC trophy for the boat that most displayed the values aspired to on the ARC.  Chiscos won the Arch Marez Trophy, named after the original owner of Rodney Bay Marina, who was renowned for being a party animal.  The citation on the ARC website says that Chiscos was awarded the trophy for outstanding contribution to shoreside activities, not only did the crew participate enthusiastically in all events in Las Palmas and St Lucia, but they also went above and beyond the call of duty by organising several events of their own!  As you can see, John and the crew were delighted with this endorsement of their approach to the ARC.
And also seen here celebrating with the crew of Time Bandit. (L to R: Anne, Fiona, Lucy, Miles, Stuart, Mikaela, Regis, John and Julia.)
Along with the trophy, the crew were presented with a hamper provided by a St Lucian Rum Distillery.  A couple of bottles were immediately consumed, leading to some very dodgy dancing at a night club later! 
It was only when we unpacked the hamper the following morning that we found we had won 18 bottles of different types of rum.  Stowing them away took some time and we now definitely have a list to starboard, but we shouldn't need to buy any more rum for some time!
It was all very sad on the Sunday as boats that John and crew had got to know so well over the previous 6 weeks started to leave to continue their journeys elsewhere.  Some are leaving their boats in the Caribbean and coming back later, some are carrying on from here through the Panama Canal and around the world, others are doing as John is doing and spending time in the Caribbean before returning home with the ARC Europe rally leaving the British Virgin Islands in May.  Regis left to spend a few days in Martinique before flying home and Julia had also gone to spend a few days sightseeing with her husband John, before also flying home from Martinique. 
On Monday, John, Mikaela and I sailed to Soufriere (still on St Lucia) to put Mikaela a bit closer to the airport for her flight home on Tuesday.  We waved her off on the bus from the town square, feeling very sad to see her go, but amused that as the bus started its engines a couple of chickens sauntered out from underneath the bus where they had been sitting in the shade!  Soufriere is one of the larger towns on the island and is considered one of the more beautiful areas.  The town is below the Pitons, two enormous pointed mountains that tower above the bay.  The scenery is lush and green, giving the impression that the town could be taken over by the jungle at any moment.  The buildings in the town look almost temporary, though some are clearly very old.  Corrugated iron figures heavily as a roofing material and the walls are painted in pastel colours, though much of the paint is peeling.
So the ARC 2011 has finished.  Chiscos won the trophy that most epitomised what John was hoping for from the event.  Everyone has had a good time ............ but the journey isn't over yet.  We will keep you posted as John and I spend a few weeks together on Chiscos before the next crew join in mid-January for the adventure to continue.  
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all our blog followers.