Log Day 18 - "ARC finish!!!"

s/v Safena's blog
Simon Ashley
Tue 18 Dec 2018 21:26
After another slow but steady night we had about 33 miles to go by daybreak. During the morning we were all focused on the direction of St. Lucia hoping to see land but initially there were many clouds.  It was a beautiful morning and as the clouds lifted Nina was the first to spot St. Lucia in the distance - wow! Seeing St. Lucia for the first time after 18 days of empty Atlantic was utterly amazing, almost unreal!

The winds were quite light again and our was speed 5/6kts occasional 7. The last few miles seemed to take forever.  We started to prepare. Preventers away, pole away, pole downhauls away. Several yachts that we hadn’t seen for days were now converging towards the northern tip of the island, interesting as we had all taken different routes and had been miles apart only a few days ago. 

As we approached the northern end of St. Lucia the wind strengthened and we began to harden up, such a pleasant change from the rolly dead-downwind sailing we had become so accustomed to since the start of the ARC.

Pidgeon Island was now firmly in sight.  With only 2 miles to go until the finish line in Rodney Bay, we made a VHF call to ARC Finish line to report our ETA as instructed.  Soon after, Nina noticed several ropes streaming out from the transom - OMG - we had picked up something!  We tried to pull these lines out but they were firm. We put the GoPro down  - this showed we had picked up plastic fishing pots / line round the prop/rudder, with less than 2 miles to go, aaaarrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!

I knew that we could not start the engine until this was removed.  There was only one option - we would have to anchor under sail as soon as we had crossed the finish line! I explained the situation to ARC control who were very understanding!

We literally crossed the finish line, furled the Genoa, tacked, head to wind and dropped the hook! We ended up anchored right on the finish line!  Andy dove in, knife in hand (no snorkel), and cut the line away. 2 plastic bottles / canisters came up with a bunch of line. We were free. We started the engine, tested ahead and astern and all was well.  We weighed anchor and headed for the marina.

I think everyone heard about our finish line escapade on the VHF. Consequently, we had the most the amazing welcome as we came into Rodney Bay marina.  People were cheering, clapping, fog horns, steel drum playing etc. It was an incredible fanfare and I must admit to feeling quite emotional! As we tied up alongside our berth we were presented with rum punch and a big fruit hamper with a bottle of Rum. Several people we had met in the Canaries were on the pontoon to greet us. It was moving.

Setting foot on land for the first time after 18 days at sea was indescribable ! The things I was looking forward to the most - unrestricted beer, pizza, curry, no motion and a good night’s sleep! We made it!