It started with a chance conversation on C dock in Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia. I'd recently arrived with the ARC and was chatting to the crew of one of the boats going on to the World ARC. "Our partners are trying to get out on a boat to wave us off from the start," said Graham the skipper. I replied, "I was thinking of taking Sephina (my 35ft ketch) out to the bay – would they like to be my crew?"
After a couple of phone calls, arrangements were finalised and the scene was set. With a much smaller fleet, it wouldn't be as spectacular as the start of the ARC in Las Palmas but I'd seen that as a participant, so this time as a spectator should be fun.
The Yacht Club flier for the flotilla offered a prize for the best-dressed yacht. Sorting the flags to suit the length of the stays took three hours, and Sephina looked a treat when all three strings were hoisted.
January 6th dawned bright and sunny, unlike my crew of ladies who cried off at the last minute having had a heavy night of partying. Fortunately, I quickly managed to find a crewmate from another ARC yacht and slipped the lines at 11 a.m. to join the rest of the fleet in the bay. With a mixture of power and sail, the flotilla took shape in the wake of the World ARC fleet as we set a course for Castries.
Now the most interesting yacht in the flotilla was Guiding Light, a Maurice Griffiths design from 1936, sailed single-handed across the Atlantic by Roy, a Liverpudlian and a sailor for most of his life, with enough stories to keep us enthralled for months. As I'd used the halyards to hoist the flags, sailing wasn't an option for Sephina but, true to his word, Roy (even wearing his captain's hat) raised his sails and Guiding Light looked a picture as she sailed on a broad reach, surrounded by the rest of the fleet.
We followed Hullabaloo (the lead boat) into and around Castries harbour with Danielle (our photographer for the day) whizzing around on an IGY rib, snapping away with the camera. After the parade of sail for the cruise ships, the power boats soon took off at speed back to Rodney Bay, leaving the four remaining yachts, Hot Chocolate, Grayling, Guiding Light and Sephina to sail (or in my case motor) back at a more leisurely pace. As we came past "Barrel o' Beef" rock, the clouds were gathering and by the time we'd sailed into the bay the heavens had opened. Coming through the anchorage was a challenge in the poor visibility of the squall, but fortunately, as we reached the entrance to the marina, the rain had stopped and was soon followed by bright sunshine as we moored back onto C dock.
Cafe Ole in the Marina hosted the gathering of the crews during the rest of the afternoon; their new Boardwalk bar is proving to be a real success as it provides just the right ambiance, right on the waterfront, informal and friendly. Needless to say, a few bottles of Piton were consumed as we waited for the results of the 'best dressed' competition. Hullabaloo took the powerboat prize and I'm pleased to report that Sephina took the sailboat prize – to each a bottle of Bounty Rum.
Many thanks to Danielle from the St Lucia Yacht Club for all the efforts put into organising the ARC and World ARC events, and for taking the photos (browse the SLYC website's Gallery www.stluciayachtclub.com to have a look). All in all a very enjoyable day!
Editor's note: The World ARC 2010 – 11, with 35 boats registered, began a 15-month circumnavigation on January 6, 2010. For more information: www.worldcruising.com.
Flotilla report submitted by Duncan Gray, skipper of Sephina, ARC-2009 entry number 230