Yes we're still here enjoying the facilities and company on offer, and thoroughly enjoying it to boot. Whoops ... too many enjoyings! The wind is forecast to drop late Wednesday so we will venture down to the Pitons for a couple of days before returning to the marina in time for the "Uni Girls" to arrive for our joint 50th celebration ... a week in a lovely hotel with spa treatments to boot. Paul will stay on the boat but doubtless will not be without company - an advantage of us spending some time here already.
Our original plan had been to revisit The Grenadines this week, in particular our favourite island from our last trip over here, Bequia. Time is now running against us but maybe that's not a bad thing: Bequia has got quite a crime spree underway with several boats having been boarded at night in the last couple of weeks. And this is even when people are asleep on board. One boat we got friendly with doing the ARC was burgled just after Christmas in the middle of night when seven crew were asleep on board. The thief dropped through the hatch in the forward cabin on the opposite side of the bed from where the skipper was sleeping. They had cash and electronic goods stolen but fortunately no-one was hurt. The St Vincentian authorities are mounting night-time patrols but it doesn't seem to have stopped the wave of thefts as yet and boats are staying away to some extent. It's very sad for both the sailors and local businesses alike who rely on the sailing community for their livelihoods.
I meanwhile am doing my bit for the local economy by indulging in a little bit of retail therapy to smarten up my somewhat casual sailing wardrobe for a week in a hotel, and quite a posh one at that. After 3 weeks on the high oceans I think I deserve a little indulgence!
Back on-line in St Lucia
Well as most friends know by now, we arrived in St Lucia after a 21 day crossing to a rapturous welcome from locals and other ARC participants alike. I'll never forget the feeling as we sailed into the marina, Ed and me standing on the bow and Paul & Phil in the cockpit (Paul steering of course). Everyone was waving and cheering, air-horns were blasting and someone was even serenading us with a trumpet. A truly magical feeling and quite humbling in it's own way.
I'm not going to write much about the crossing itself, Paul has this well-covered on his Captain's Blog, but just to say I really enjoyed it - the camaraderie between the crew; the incredible star-lit nights and awe-inspiring sunsets; the myriad marine life paying us visits and, overall, the sense of achievement of undertaking something as momentous as sailing across the Atlantic. I'm really proud of us all: Paul for so thoroughly preparing Jay Jay for the crossing and skippering us so well; Phil for overcoming his sea-sickness to become a valuable member of the crew; Ed for his calm and reasoned support to Paul (and his superb bread-making skills) and me for finding the courage to undertake such a big adventure and actually gain so much from it. I should also mention my Mum for continuing to insist we should undertake the trip when she is herself all at sea following the sad loss of my Dad back in October. The lovely thing is Dad fully understood what we were undertaking, had visited Jay Jay a couple of times and even waved us on the first leg from Plymouth so I know he supported us in our undertaking.
And so now we're back in St Lucia after a whistle-stop trip back to the UK for Christmas. It feels very different being out here this time - we're definitely more chilled and don't feel the same compulsion to tear around visiting different places and being forever on the move. So, partly because of our new laid-back approach and also because Virgin lost some of our luggage, we're still moored up in Rodney Bay marina after five days!
Almost unheard of for us but so easy-going and incredibly sociable. We've dined with Germans and Norwegians this week, and had drinks with Aussies .... a real international mix. And great fun to boot!
We'll be heading off for a day or two this coming week but probably won't stray too far: The Christmas Winds have arrived and it's pretty blowy out at sea and at anchor too. And despite crossing the Atlantic (did I mention that?!) we both feel there's no point setting out for a potentially uncomfortable passage if we don't have to.
Well now I've recommenced my blogging I'll try my best to keep it up to date .... keep reading!