After the ARC is over…

The finish line officially closed last Friday, the final prize giving was on Saturday and the last boat arrived yesterday afternoon! First, here are a few reflections on our ARC experience this year. We motored 88 hours but we were in good company, all but 6 boats in the cruising fleet motored at some point. The sailing in the last few days was excellent. In group I, the slowest group, we came 8th out of 18 on corrected time, however if you look at the bigger picture I think we performed well above expectation. On corrected time we came 67 out of 162 boats in the cruising division, something we are very proud of. You may have seen on the news that St Lucia and St Vincent have both suffered badly from torrential rain. It certainly put a dampener on our proposed beach BBQ for Christmas day. There is so much debris in the water that we were worried about the dinghy trip to Pigeon Island. In the end we had a very sociable time using the tables and chairs and covered patio of a cafe, closed for the Christmas holiday. This was really a 'reunion' for the ARC Portugal boats with the addition of several other crews. Great fun. Slowly many of the boats around us are heading off to explore the Caribbean, we are still effecting repairs. There is nothing major, we just work slowly in the heat. Christmas Eve we said adieu to Edelweiss, a lovely American family who we first met in Porto Santo. This morning it was time to say 'Auf Wiedersehen' to Starship, another lovely extended family who we first met on La Gomera. We hope to escape to Martinique for New Year, it's only about 25 miles away but in the meantime we still have jobs to do. Our involuntary gybe damaged our mainsheet block assembly which is a complicated piece of kit. John found a replacement on the internet, a mere £950. Engineers like problems, or so I am told, so John set about replacing the broken parts. The first task was to make a fibreglass board 6mm thick, coloured black, from which he cut a side panel for the block which he had previously disassembled. The damaged sheave was replaced by the good one of a double block (also damaged). The whole unit was put back together with bolts and nylock nuts to replace the original rivets. All we have to buy before we can reinstall the sheet system is one double block when the chandlery reopens. It is in their catalogue for $103, cheap at the price! One step forward, one back. Today the wind was a bit lighter so we took down the genoa and mainsail. The damage to the genoa is rather more than we expected so we will see if the sail loft can fit us in to replace the sacrificial strip and make two small repairs to the canvas. I could do the canvas repairs but the extensive resewing on the sacificial would be rather challenging in the confines of the cockpit. The tear in the mainsail is rather less problematical and I think I can repair it strongly myself. That's tomorrow's job. I also have a couple of small repairs to do to the sailtainer, much easier with no mainsail in the way. Until our neighbours left on Sunday we had been unable to connect to water as it is metered, one tap per berth and we were between two berths. On Sunday we moved onto the adjacent, recently vacated berth and called up the dockmasters to read the meter and remove the padlock. Monday afternoon we went shopping. On our return I was less than pleased to find the German charter boat, who had come in next to us, using our tap. They were quite unapologetic, their tap had a padlock, ours didn't.... To make matters worse, I went to fill the tanks this morning and not a dribble came out. The extreme weather has damaged a lot of the island's infrastructure and there is no water pressure to be found! Four years ago we couldn't fill up because there was a drought. Is it us? Do we bring bad luck? As I said at the beginning, the ARC is over but World ARC is yet to begin. The new year will see the start of the next part of our adventure. More in the new year. Joyce

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