An update on the ARC as the finishing boats arrive in St Lucia 18/12/06

It’s been a challenging night for the ARC fleet, largely peppered with strong rain showers soaking everything within seconds, and several squalls giving new ARC arrivals a blasting when they least need it.

Papillon of Weymouth who arrived just before midnight did not even flinch when just after docking their boat the heavens opened. Fully decked out in their oilskins they were oblivious to their welcome parties dousing, and that of ARC berthing as well.

Other challenges were ahead for ARC Berthing however when yacht L’Eden Rose arrived, a French boat with no English. Unfortunately last night turned out to be the night when the Spanish team were on watch, not the French speaking team. Luckily the Finish Line couple Robert and Oskana, dug up their school days French and made huge efforts to communicate with L’Eden Rose. As luck would have it, just as L’Eden Rose were leaving the Finish Line boat to port, instead of starboard, ARC Berthing found a French speaker – Tom from yacht Lisme – to intervene and give instructions in French. Everything went swimmingly after that so ARC send out their thanks to Tom and Vernon from Sparkle Laundry for all their help.

Incredibly Jean Pierre and Rose Grondin of L’Eden Rose had never sailed before the ARC. This is the first part of their dream voyage, which started when they sold everything, house, car, pets, and bought their Bavaria ’36 for the experience of a lifetime. Their first sailing was the trip from France to Las Palmas. It has understandably been a challenging trip for them.

Sunday 17 December

The mood in the marina yesterday afternoon was one of relaxation and anticipation for the arrivals, with some of the most well known ARC yachts due to land in St Lucia.

The first arrival that caused a stir was that of the Nicholson 32 Thisbe who had one of the largest reception committees of all the arrivals. It took them 21 days, but at last, over 100 years later the crew of Thisbe have finally closed the loop. Emmanuel Cockle’s great grandfather left St. Lucia by boat at the beginning of the last century, and Emmanuel has always wanted to sail back to his ancestral homeland. Arriving at 1400 local time, all the family and many friends were here to meet Thisbe with Cornish flags flying, the atmosphere on the dock was very emotional. Emmanuel, a non-sailor at the start of the trip, said: “Wow what a trip. It’s so great to be here but it’s been hard at times. I think I was growing roots out of my back such a landlubber am I.” When asked if he’d do it again he said “ask me tomorrow!”

During the afternoon the Caribbean sounds of the junior pan playoff has been drifting across the marina. The young steel pan players put their hearts and souls into entertaining the ARC participants. Whilst listening to the pan play off the ARC craft village was in full swing showcasing local crafts and produce available on the island. The Pan Play off looks set to go on late into the night to ensure that the afternoon’s new arrivals get the welcome to St. Lucia they deserve.

After Thisbe had been berthed the other arrivals have been steady with Stella Maris, Galateia and Papaver all arriving about an hour apart. All of the arrivals have been welcomed by the sound of ARC yachts blowing their horns, making everyone feel very special and emotional.

A very big welcome was reserved for Nick Lewis and his crew on Flying Start the ‘Welsh Embassy’ who were involved in the rescue of illegal immigrants 40NM from Las Palmas at the start of their voyage. The noise of all the horns was deafening as Flying Start motored down the west side of the main Alpha dock. There was no mistaking which slip was theirs as it was lined with a crowd of about 50 people who applauded and blew horns as the Moody 38 was reversed into the dock. Having broken very little and enjoyed the crossing, Nick the Skipper of Flying Start said: “We are totally overwhelmed with this amazing welcome.”