Tue 13 Dec 2005 00:42
Monday December 12
Hooray, we've made it!!!!!
Within minutes of landfall here we are, a glass of champagne in hand (many thanks to the Goodleff family) at the end of the Atlantic. Stormin Norman also present but took the photo, in case anyone was worried that we'd lost him!
Well, we arrived at 0239hrs GMT Saturday December 10 2005 to hooting, shouting and cheering. A rum punch (courtesy of the St Lucia tourist board - how neat is that) put in your hand even before the boat has been tied up and then a bowl of fruit with a bottle of rum. We were all tired but the rum punch awakened our taste buds and as St Lucia is 4hrs behind UK the bar was open, in fact stays open until the earlier hours with Caribbean music blasting out. So Pina Coladas all round. despite already having had an excellent supper of chilli and rice J and Norman couldn't resist some fresh meat so at 1am they tucked into burger and chips....and the chips didn't half taste good!
The first sighting of land for 18 days was perfect....the sun setting behind St Lucia allowed us to see the silhouette of the tallest volcano and then just as we were celebrating this sighting 20 spotted dolphins came up to the boat jumping and bow riding in exuberant fashion as if to share in our joy. they stayed with for a good ten minutes before departing, to presumably welcome the next boat under instruction from the tourist board. it then seemed to take an age to do the next twenty miles to the finish line and just as we thought the wind was dropping off and we got rid of a reef in the main sail(made its area bigger) the wind started to pick up again and we recorded our strongest wind of the trip (46 knots!) going over the finish line. It was then a very quick drop of the sails before we headed into Rodney Bay. very strange to suddenly have to sail into a confined area after the expanse of the ocean for 19days. The last few hours of helming was hard work - dead run, v. windy , big waves, dark, end of the trip etc. they also mark their red and green channel marks the opposite way round to the rest of the world! The finish line was hard to spot as it was set in front of all the lights of the town, and having seen nothing but darkness for the last 3 weeks it was a little odd and disorientating. Various other people we have spoken to all had the same problems, which was reassuring.
Since then we have cleaned the boat, sent the clothes to the laundry, taken ourselves to the laundry, drunk quite a lot of rum and generally become human again. Great atmosphere in the marina as each competitor comes in. Party each evening with a great night at the local national trust island with a band, fire eating and limbo dancing.
Today we all went on a trip into the rain forest/plantation area for a high wire tour through the canopy. it took us about an hour in a minibus to get there and were probably more scared by the St Lucian drivers than anything the Atlantic could throw at us....over taking on hair pin bends, driving off the edge of the road so we can have a better view of the sheer drop, stopping on a bend so they can have a chat with someone coming the other way...etc. Anyway it was a good tour of the island; its all very lush and a bit like driving though the tropical house at Kew with bananas, giant bamboo, cocoa trees, grapefruit, coconut palms, massive cheeseplants, mango trees, guava trees and huge fern things. it all looks a bit wild but most of it is cultivated with a lot of houses (everything from fairly smart looking villas, pink and white seems the fashion, to run down shacks with corrugated tin sheet roofs) set in amongst the greenery and the occasional goat and cow tethered by the roadside to graze. The canopy tour involved being harnessed onto wires and then moving between platforms on the wires...bit like 'Go Ape' for those of you that have tried that back in UK but without the difficult bits of going on wobbly planks, cargo nets etc. it was lots of fun and we got up to 20mph flying through the trees but the only bit of wildlife was a half dead cricket...we obviously made too much noise and scarred everything else away.
For anyone that may be interested, the final score on the betting through the trip was a very convincing victory for the gal from up north. Yes, Clare took the chocolates and pretty well annihilated the rest of us. Good stuff and the reward for winning was she has to buy the first round!! (Didn't tell her that part of the game 'till the end).
Well what can I say maybe the photo says it all. It was an experience for all who took part and it has been really interesting speaking to all the competitors and
their different boats. One man we met the other day has a boat worth about £450,000 and they helmed the boat over the start and the finish but nothing in between everything is done with the push of a button. Not with our Penguin the sea is all but inside the boat and the boat is steered mostly by an actual human. So we sailed the Atlantic some cruised, almost sunk, pulled out, got hit by extra tropical cyclones which ever way and whatever we were travelling in most are all here and safe and getting very drunk most nights. Is it sheer relief I ask myself well just take another look at the Photo.!
So her lady ship made it, now what ? DUNNO
Thank you all for being with us and reading our web pages over the big pond I hope it gave you a taste of what is like. J and Clare are leaving on Saturday so it's back to
the three of us, only it's not, we have met lots of lovely people on the way, (there is a boat load here now!)
Well I suppose I had better go to another party and eat some dinner I have about 48 meals left to catch up on.
Love to you all Jak. (Jane G hope your mums OK)