The Demands of the ARC Finish Line

Karma Daze
Chris and Penny Manley
Fri 13 Dec 2013 21:19
14:05N 060:58W
Tuesday December 10th was our first day on the ARC finish line.  The ARC is the rally we crossed the Atlantic with last year, and when they e-mailed all last years participants asking for volunteers to man the finish line we agreed to be one of those boats.
We had arrived in Rodney Bay marina on Sunday, given a berth and had our Finish Line Induction.  We have to do 3x24 hour sessions from 10 am Tuesday to 10 am Wednesday.  There are about 3 other boats doing some days too.
Our first day we set out for the finish line to take over from “Wavelength” who explained that we had to pick up a bouy when they had released it.  There is also the official Finish Line bag containing a large orange flag to fly on the bow during the day, so the yachts coming in can see us; a flashing orange light to be used overnight as identification, and a book to write all the arrivals and the time they crossed the line.
We are not the slickest at picking up buoys and the wind was blowing 20-25 knots, but we managed it on our 3rd attempt.  (The skipper on “Wavelength” had said it was easy – perhaps he has longer arms than Chris?)  There was a tender out with a couple of ARC staff on who transferred the Finish bag, so that was helpful.  And they took a photo of us which should be on the World Cruising Club website.
We had a 4 hour wait until the first yacht contacted us.  The instructions to the yachts are to call at 5 miles out and at 1 mile, but some also have instructions to call at 2 miles!  Anyway when they are reasonably close we could give them there finishing line instructions i.e. what we looked like (south end of the line) and that there is a small yellow buoy at the north end of the line.  Pass between us and the buoy keeping our yacht to starboard (right!).  This is fine if when the boats come around the headland (Pigeon Island) into Rodney Bay, but on our watch a large 3-masted cruise ship had moored between Pigeon Island and ourselves, it had a long bowsprit and a a tender trailing from the stern – OK during the day as it could be seen, not too good at night.  Anyway, the mad photographer who dashes around in his inflatable taking photos of all the yachts as they finish, persuaded the captain to move his tender as our attempts to contact him by radio went unnoticed.
We had one yacht that was very difficult to hear clearly on the radio, but we managed to make out that it had something around its keel.  As it approached the finish line with full sails it was heading straight for us, OK, we thought he’ll alter course any moment now, by this time we were on the side of the boat shouting and gesticulating a he veered away went behind us into clear water.  Well it would have been if the hobie cat sailing dinghy from the Sandels resort across the bay hadn’t been there.  The 2 people on the dinghy managed to leap into the water as the yacht crashed into them.  Fortunately no-one was hurt, but it took a long time for the dinghy and crew to be rescued by which time they had drifted a good half mile out to sea – next stop Belize!
That was the only drama of the day.  We thoroughly enjoyed it, and even managed to get a couple of short naps.  We clocked in 18 boats, leaving only another 200 odd to arrive by next Friday,
Our next stint is on Sunday, so we have had a few days to catch our breath and relax,