Guy Hoare with the latest from ARC yacht Panulirus on the final stretch to St Lucia 16/12/06

Log date Saturday 16 December

From time to time, I get rather concerned at the appalling quality of some of the souvenirs offered for sale to the millions of tourists who visit London every year. One of my least favourite is the woefully unfunny black postcard bearing the simple caption “London By Night”.

I am not sure what angers me more – the mind-bogglingly pathetic attempt at humour or the grossly inaccurate representation of a city where, thanks to the myriad of 24-hour office blocks, floodlit landmarks and streetlamps it is rarely, if ever, dark enough outside to prevent you from reading the smallprint in the Financial Times, even at three in the morning.

It is true that the equally witty postcards “Paris by Night”, “Berlin by Night” and even “Bratislava by Night” are also available across Europe; moreover, if we ever get there, I shall no doubt find the side-splittingly funny one that reads “St Lucia by night”. These sad truths in no way excuse the London card.

If however, I were to come across a similar card with the caption “Mid-Atlantic by Night” it would at least be accurate, albeit no more amusing than its land-based cousins. Last night, with heavy clouds blotting out every little pin-prick of a star and what sliver of moon there might have been, our boat was shooting along in a completely black void. Apart from the reflection of our own few lights in the water there was nothing to be seen in the all-encompassing velvety darkness. It was not even possible to tell where the sea ended and the sky began. Only the fact that my coffee was spilling assured me that we were actually tipping over.

Typically in the one place where I would perhaps be inclined to forgive such
a card, there were none to be found. The middle of the ocean is perhaps the
last remaining place on this earth free from the scourge of tourist tat.