Ilkka Liukkonen reports from St Lucia on Melina's successful ARC crossing

We crossed the finish line at 2332 Thursday evening after an eventful passage of 18 days, 14 hours and 32 minutes.

The approach was really tricky, numerous harbour lights dimming the lights of the committee vessel, boats moored without anchoring lights in the bay, 30 knots upwind bringing us onshore with too much speed. Anyway, we did it, and, with great pleasure, as the first yacht in our class.

The ARC reception in the marina was warm, and the welcome drinks tasted fantastic after a couple of weeks of plain (warm) bottled water. The last two days of the passage were probably the most demanding as well as fascinating ones, with increasing downwind of 25 to 35 knots, in gusts even more, growing seas and swell demanding most accurate and concentrated manual steering day and night, most wonderful surfs (max GPS log 18.3 knots!) and the beautiful ocean around us.

After very dark moonless nights the last night was wonderful with half moon lighting our passage. We are very happy not having had any serious troubles during our passage apart from the unlucky combination of salt water and the laptop in the first day. No major accidents (innumerable bruises are not counted!), no broken instruments, no engine problems. After all, no problems with the power supply either.

We have been very conscientious in wearing life jackets and harnesses. The sometimes loudly expressed irritation caused by ‘the tail’ has not made anybody disobedient to this rule. The provisioning was quite successful even concerning fruits and vegetables. Only a couple of tomatoes and bananas were thrown away. We still have green apples and lemons onboard. Surprisingly, carrots and cabbages did not like the passage at all. We have been enjoying dinners in cockpit while the boat is making 8-9 knots steered by ‘Mr Helminen’. Our watch keeping has functioned well.

A small problem has been the difficulty in sleeping due to the temperature and swell rocking us back and forth in the sea bunks. To our surprise and regret, we have not seen much sea life, whatever the reason may be.

Our boat, Finngulf 44, has really proved to be a ‘solid performance sailing yacht’. The ARC organization has been excellent, ARC people being always helpful and cheerful despite the continuous pressure the have had. The passage has really not been the ‘milk run’ expected but demanding sailing in most variable conditions, from total calms to brisk upwind and from nice downwind with sunshine in light trades to huge waves and swell in 35 knots winds towards the finish line. We have had great fun, the four of us.

Our friendship has grown even deeper than before and we have learned to appreciate each others’ special characteristics and strengths. This fantastic passage is going to be one of our most memorable experiences, in the category of ‘once in a lifetime’.

The Melina crew – Rodney Bay, St Lucia