we've arrived

Silver Bear
Ray Lawry
Tue 15 Dec 2009 20:10
14:04.4750N 60:56.000W
Sorry this blog is delayed but we've had a surreal couple of days.
We approached the north end of St lucia in 35 knots of wind and rounded the top of the Island about 1900hrs into the relative shelter of the west coast. We arrived at Rodney Bay at around 2000hrs on Sunday 13th Dec,with Starfire safely a few metres behind us,mother duck with her ducklings! Actually they nearly crossed the line before ,as Ray got a bit carried away with sailing into harbour and us being blow down the coast,anyway with Andy on the helm we made a final sweep into the shelter of Rodney bay.
Several boats had come out to welcome us and Starfire with foghorns blasting and lots of cheering and flash photography.
Then the party started, we arrived in the marine where about 100 other ARC participants lined the pontoons and shouted  3 cheers for Silver Bear and 3 cheers for Starfire and cheered us in.It is something I will never forget and was absolutely fantastic. We had some very strong 'young ladies' in santa outfits,who hadn't shaved their legs to take our lines! Locals were there to greet us with cool beers and the ARC team had rum punches standing by. After lots of hugs and kisses and slaps on the back,we finally secured the boats and made our way to the bar.There the party continued and as you can imagine it was not very long before we were jumping into the pool.Having made it across the Atlantic,Tom and Alan nearly smashed their heads on the side of the pool as the somersaulted in.Not for the first time in his life Ray had his boxer shorts returned to him later that morning by a caring young lady from another boat.
I haven't quite got the staying power of the guys so I returned to the boat for a really good sleep sometime on Monday morning.The guys stayed on to party,though apparently Ray and Bob (Alan's Dad who had flown in from Fowey to surprise the boys) fell asleep in a couple of rocking chairs. All I know was the following day they were nursing quite a hang over.
We were still feeling tired so it was great when 2 young lads from 'Suds' laundry came by and took all our laundry away.They were only about 7 and 12 years old and it was a bank holiday so they had the day off school.They spent the whole day helping their mum with collecting and delivering washing to and from the boats. That's what we have all been so impressed with ,the St Luciens are so happy and friendly and welcoming. We've very easily slipped into Caribbean mode,we've just chilled and slowly sorted out the boat.
The yachting press have been interested in our and Starfires story,so we spent quite alot of time talking to Mark Fishwick,who works for 'Yachting Monthly' and happens to live in Lympstone.
By 1900hrs Monday it was time to start partying again ,a whole crowd of us went out to 'Buzz' restaurant,where ARC had organized a cocktail party. Again the fantastic thing is that young,old ,middle aged,couples, singles, families ,are all mixing together and having a good time. Ray and I returned to the Marina,leaving the others in 'Delerius' a night club, as we knew our friend Ron from Topsham was due to arrive around midnight.His Sadler 29 is the smallest boat in the ARC and winds had got up to 45 knots so we were keen to see him arrive safely and with several others ensure he and Larry had a good welcome. I left Ray and Ron in the bar at 2 in the morning." Swedish girls on Cantare arrived at about 4 in the morning and the boys on Starfire ensured they had a good welcome,they partied through to sunrise and all I can say is there are some very delicate heads this morning,sadly the young ones seem to be recovering more quickly than the oldies.
So every boat in the ARC has now arrived ,it has been possibly the fastest ARC ever with the wind rarely dipping below 17 knots,the comradery has been amazing and all the discomfort of the previous few weeks is very quickly forgotten. We're out for another celebration tonight, but hoping then to get out of the marina and explore the Island before we return on the 20th.
What a great experience.
Looking forward to seeing you all