'Hole' around St. Lucia still proving tricky for ARC fleet to negotiate

The majority of the ARC2011 fleet are still at sea, slowly reducing the miles to Saint Lucia. The boats towards the front of the fleet are experiencing the light winds of the ‘hole’ around the Caribbean, while those further back are still enjoying light-moderate tradewinds with classic squalls.

There has been some motoring for the boats stuck in the hole, as the lure of rum punches and clean clothes outweigh the reality of slowly rolling along at 4 knots. Poor Uxorious IV (GBR) and Keoloha 8 (GBR) are having to motor – Uxorious becuase of rig damage and Kealoha because their mainsail has finally given up on life. There’ll be no motoring for Nostra Vida (NOR) as they’ve lost their propeller – someone will tow them in to Rodney Bay. Further back in the fleet there have been some great sailing conditions, with Hallberg Rassy 42E Matilda clocking-up 11 knots under Parasailor.  

The very humid weather is being broken by tradewind squalls accompanied by big wind-shifts and lots of rain. The girls on Diamonds Are Forever (GBR) took the opportunity to have a shower and hair-wash in the free fresh water. Rob on Halcyon of Hebe (GBR) writes about the squalls: “A respite came last night when we had 3 squalls blow through. In the 1st, the wind became gusty and variable from every angle for about 20 minutes. The 2nd and 3rd were short short sharp deluges that were almost comical in their intensity” Alison on Watergaw (GBR) says that the squalls they’ve been experiencing are only ‘squall-lets’ because the winds have only reached 30kn.

Onboard Kealoha 8 (GBR), the ripped mainsail enforces slow progress: “However, we are not moping around – we have set up a number of classes/activities for today… We have cleaned and polished the boat, so that when we arrive in we are looking as grand as possible for our finishing photo, a sextant class with Billy (this is how to take your position using only the sun and a sextant), splicing ropes with Ben and fishing with David.”

The SSB radio net is still keeping boats glued together, despite the distances inbetween. Roger on LaPalapa (USA) has been in contact with Minaxi (USA) who have just left the Cape Verdes after replacing their forestay and gear – they’ve got 35-40knots back east! The good news is that Minaxi and Porto Santo (POR) are both now back underway, so all ARC boats are on passage. Island Wanderer (GBR) have narrowly missed out on victory on the SSB net ‘pub quiz’, and Diamonds Are Forever (GBR) have found an unusual game – ARC Battleship. We’re not sure of the rules, but it requires the teams to ‘sink’ each other’s ARC fleets! So far Bea, Marnie and Vicky have sunk four of the opposing team’s ARC boats!