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  • Writer's pictureFatjax

New Year, New Adventure

Updated: Jun 1

St Lucia 31st December 2023 - 12th January 2024

As is the trend, the sail began at dawn for the day trip to St Lucia.  There was The ‘A’ List to be completed in preparation for the World Arc 2024-25 which we were now undertaking as a family.  A lifetime’s dream is looking like a reality.  Finally.

We did not rush.  The racer is beginning to slow.  The jib was unfurled and we sailed under the shade of our canopy as true cruisers.  We made a gentle arrival by mid afternoon into a very familiar Rodney Bay.  Again, the Anchorage Tango commenced, eventually settling in the shelter of Pigeon Island ready for the spectacular display of New Years Eve fireworks at midnight.

The whole bay was lit up by each hotel trying to outdo the other with ever more elaborate displays.  What a treat to see, even the odd cruise ship stopped to witness the once a year spectacle.  The New Year was welcomed in true Caribbean style.  A cacophony of music and explosions rang out from every direction.  We were glad to be part of it.

New Year’s Day was not a holiday.  The List was consulted, parts were sourced and we donned the “marriage savers”.  Iain was successfully hoisted to the top of the mast in the early hours of the morning to clean and lubricate the mainsheet track.

We had a week to get most of the pressing jobs completed before our friends arrived from Norfolk.

  • Service Code 0 furler

  • Re-sleeve halyards

  • Re-instate back stanchion

  • Replace non return valve on main heads sink

  • Electrical cupboard catch

  • Freezer lid insulation

  • Reseal front hatch

Obviously, this List was completed.

The Robertsons arrived giving us permission for some R&R for a few days.  Micheal, Kate and their daughter, Zara are farmers and keen horsewomen.  A far cry from the sea.  It is exciting introducing non sailors to our world.

We decided to have an adventure.  We took our friends for their first sail to Marigot Bay to meet another group of Norfolk friends, Andy and Jo Allen, also farmers, who grow asparagus.  It would appear our Norfolk Set keep the country fed!

How uplifting it felt when we arrived in the entrance of the bay to be remembered by the boat man. He remarked on the changes he could see to the boat.  Iain was chuffed.  Beaming with joy, we picked up our usual buoy and waited for Andy and Jo to arrive.  The mandatory rum punch was consumed aboard, before we headed off for a long lunch which turned into evening drinks and a late dinghy ride back to the boat in the dark.  A very thrilling experience for us all.

We stayed the night on board with Michael and Kate.  After a morning swim around the boat and breakfast, it was time to return to Rodney Bay and a busy week ahead.  Michael, Kate and Zara had a lot of exploring to do, we had our 31st wedding anniversary, Dugald was arriving the same day as Michael celebrated his birthday and The World Arc official programme of briefings and checks was commencing.

We had a really fun time together, and were touched our friends chose to spend their time with us.

With Dugald’s arrival, Iain exhaled. He has been very nervous at the thought of undertaking our adventure double handed.  When Sophia arrives, I know Iain will feel much happier sailing with his family who sail as he does.  With Purpose!

The start of our journey was fast approaching.  There were final Lists to be dealt with following our safety checks and official regulation debriefs.  The Caribbean is renowned for its forms and carbon paper, always eager to please we made sure we ticked all the boxes, in triplicate.

One job which Iain was very keen to undertake with Dugald was packing our new white spinnaker ready for the off.  Much excitement was building as the sail was fed into the snuffer, Iain had many words of wonderment and praise for this piece of cloth.  Great hopes are pinned on this sail to stay the course.  Iain guided the folds, flaking them into the sail bag, reassuring himself the sail was the right decision, grinning with anticipation.  Dugald left him with his thoughts, while he fitted the jackstays.

St Lucia - Santa Marta, Colombia

Saturday 13th January 2024

As Dugald was on board, I did not need to attend the last briefing meeting.  I really didn’t need to know what our weather guru, Chris Tibbs was predicting for our forecast.  “This is the start of the downwind cruising Jacqueline” was wringing in my ears, “It’s why we bought The White Stallion”.  I was confident we were going to drift to Columbia.  I believed my family.

Finally, the hour arrived for us to leave the pontoon towards the start line of our voyage.  I was so happy Dugald was with us from the off. It was his turn.

With just our mainsail we drifted towards the start line.  Our friends were at the vantage point on Pigeon Island cameras ready to record the spectacle of some 30 boats with canvas poised, sailing with purpose.  I was ready for the gun.  Bang!  The Ivan Pavlov Reflex in my husband and son kicked in. I looked up and the calm drift towards the line had turned into a jostle within a hairs whisper of the committee boat and Bahati, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 skippered by Sian and Martin Joesbury who also from a racing background. I could hear them calling something about a windward boat at many decibels, I looked up from the winch to see the crew of Bahati standing on the side deck calling loudly at us.  Iain instructed me to unfurl the jib and tell them to keep coming. Immediately, I pressed the button with one hand and gestured with my other for Bahati to keep coming which they did. An exciting start to the World Arc for us and our new friends on Bahati.

My family crossed the line and we headed out towards the Columbian coast.  Iain gave Dugald the helm, he went below to plan his route and check his weather predictions.

The weather predictions were for rain and squalls.  We were not worried.  We commenced the watches and the hourly log.  The log was back on form.  The most exciting event of our first day at sea, was the SSB role call at 18:00.  The radio was installed two years ago, but we didn’t have the opportunity to use it until now.  As we all know, technology moves on at great speed, perhaps leaving some of us behind.  The SSB radio is quickly becoming a tool of the past.  The introduction of StarLink, has superseded this radio device.  However, the boats who have this system in the fleet are keen to keep this form of communication alive.  I am enjoying hearing the groups twice daily, and with each passing day, helped along by the patience of my contemporaries, I feel I am relaxing in to speaking a little more.

We were settling in to a routine. With the arrival of Dugald, sail changing commenced. For a while, Iain and Dugald played with the Code 0, unfurling and furling with each appropriate puff.  They were enjoying hand steering, while I felt content watching the thrill on their faces.

By 06:00 the following morning (14th January), the jib released itself at the head forcing us to retrieve it from the sea.  This practice is becoming well rehearsed.  There were no dramas, we continued sailing with the stay and mainsail for the rest of the day cogitating over the failing sail.  Clearly, this sail did not get the memo. We do not fail.

By night fall the sky was filled with rainy squalls. Iain and Dugald took the weather in their strides, relishing the free wash down of the boat, but also mindful the gusts were strong.  This weather also made us romp towards our destination too quickly. We slowed the boat in order to arrive in daylight. Under the main only, we pushed towards the finish line in 30 knots of wind. Quite a thrilling end the our first voyage as a fleet.

We arrived to a heartfelt welcome from the Arc Yellow Shirts, the Harbour Master and fellow world cruisers on the beautiful catamaran, Nica.  The staff in Marina Santa Marta were very helpful. We managed to secure our berth and check in, all on the same afternoon. The Marina Manager drove us to the customs office in her car.

From here we will prepare to sail to the San Blas Islands.

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