13 April 2013 | Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
Final Awards Dinner
Our time in Marigot Bay and Rodney Bay in St. Lucia was full of fun and celebrations. It was also an emotional time as we began to contemplate the enormity of what we had accomplished and to bid farewell to all of the incredible people who joined us on this journey.
First up in Marigot Bay was a welcome BBQ mixed with a night of karaoke - the event was curiously called a baraoke. The fleet had been apart since our landing in Grenada so it was a wonderful start to our celebrations. It was at least the third time that we did some karaoke (Bali and American Samoa being noteworthy in my mind). I assure you our singing did not improve over time. I sang "You've lost that loving feeling" to Mark with a fantastic group of backup singers while Mark sang "Addicted to Love" with a similar reinforcements. We really need to work on our acts. A great time was had by everyone!
The rest of the time in Marigot Bay was spent socializing with the fleet. We had several lunches with Steve (s/v Southern Cross) and will dearly miss those impromptu lunches where we sit and talk for hours. We sat with Anastasia and Brizo for the dinner in Marigot Bay and I couldn't help but think about all that we have shared with them over the past 15 months. We have watched Kathryn and Audrey grow up into such incredible young women - to think that they are circumnavigators at ages 11 and 8.
As we left Marigot Bay, we began the parade of sail to Rodney Bay. Twenty boats participated in the parade of sail - quite a feat to get all of us lined up in the right order! Sixteen of the twenty boats completed the entire circumnavigation from St. Lucia back again to St. Lucia, while the other five boats had joined us somewhere along the way. It was well publicized that we were having this parade so there were many boats that joined us along the route and then others on shore waving and congratulating us. When we passed a very large cruise ship there were hundreds of people waving to us from the various decks of the boat. We waved back enthusiastically, feeling like local celebrities. Our good friends from Australia on Spirit of Alcides did a fantastic job leading the parade. We had a "finish line" where Rally Control member Suzana took our picture and gave us a hearty congratulation as we became circumnavigators. I cried as would be expected from me and Mark hugged me so tightly. As we told Andrew Bishop, director of World Cruising Club, the biggest highlight from our trip was completing the circumnavigation safely, the boat and ourselves all being in one piece. Truly, that is the big accomplishment. As we pulled into Rodney Bay Marina, we docked the boat and felt an incredible sense of relief. We were back, all was well.
After all the boats had tucked into their slips, there was quite a celebration on the dock. Lots of hugs and congratulations. We were quickly moved to a pool side welcome reception at the Ocean Club which is part of the marina. We all had a rum punch and yummy h'orderves. Being poolside, spunky Caroline (s/v Peat Smoke) suggested that the World Arc women take a dip in the pool fully clothed. It took me about three seconds to take off my watch and get in the pool. In the next half an hour just about everyone was game and the antics were fantastic. As each new person decided to join us in the pool there were shouts of encouragement and yells of congratulations. It was a perfect way to celebrate our accomplishment. Once all had settled down, Rally Control took this amazing picture of the soaking wet lot of us.
After cooling off in the pool for quite a bit, people started to return to their boats to get dried off and dressed up for the final dinner at the Royal Rex hotel. We had our welcome dinner at the same place 15 months ago before we left St. Lucia. Returning led to many a discussion of our fond memories of the humble beginnings of our trip. The dinner was fantastic and we enjoyed watching each boat step up to receive their recognition. Paul (aka Rally Control) introduced each boat with some memorable tales from our time together. At Last was the boat who always had diet coke and Bisquick on board (Paul is also a BIG fan of diet coke). We were also remembered for our stellar fourth place honorable mention for the longest leg from Cape Town to Brazil. We received a plaque, a bottle of rum (what finish would be complete without it?), certificates commemorating our circumnavigation and a wonderful book filled with photos. Each boat submitted five of their favorite photos from the trip to Rally Control but we were unaware of the fantastic keepsake that the photos would transform into.
This map shows the route that we followed over the course of the last 15 months. Whenever we look at a map of the world or spin a globe, we are struck by how far we have come. According to the World Arc statistics we have traveled about 26,000 miles in those fifteen months and visited 17 different countries. When I look at the map all I can see are the long distances over the vast oceans. Our longest passage was for 21 days across the Pacific Ocean from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas Islands (2,980 nm). The second longest trip was 16 days from Salvador, Brazil to St. George, Grenada (2,546 nm). Despite completing our circumnavigation, we still have about 3,200 nm to go. This will bring our grand total of miles for the entire time we have been away to over 30,000 miles. And remember we have traveled these miles going on average 6.3 knots (7.56 miles per hour). As Steve (s/v Southern Cross) so eloquently put - one wave at a time.
The World Arc boats dressed for the celebration
Now that the World ARC is over, we do not have the yellow brick tracking system for you to follow our progress via the World Cruising website. But we will update our location on the blog several times per week so you can track us using Google Earth via our blog site. Just click on "Our Current Position" which is located on the left hand side of the blog's home page.
Mark spent much time having some much needed work done on the boat upon arriving in St. Lucia. Two men who worked on the teak before we left St. Lucia were on the dock to greet us when we arrived. They were happy to help clean our hull which had caked on salt which needed to be removed with vinegar and some elbow grease. Joseph helped us get the stainless polished which took him almost two complete days. Considering that we only put 5,000 nautical miles on the boat in the five years before we left the trip; adding 26,000+ miles in the past year and a half has definitely aged the boat. But we still get many compliments on the beauty of At Last and she is in great shape with no major problems throughout this trip. This is a real testament to the quality that Island Packet builds into their yachts. And when I had any questions and issues regarding our boat systems, Island Packet Yachts were very responsive and helpful. They certainly deserve the fine reputation they have for outstanding service.
Mark wants to blog about the list of problems the fleet had so that other potential circumnavigators can prepare their boats well for what they might experience. If anyone has questions to ask us about the WARC, our preparations, anything, please send us an email via this web site and we will be happy to reply. We may post the questions (anonymously) and our responses on the blog after we arrive in Tampa. We want to help others share this dream.
As our time in St. Lucia winds down, we have said many tearful good byes to people we will never forget. What we have shared with the fleet over the past 15 months has bound us to each other for life. Mark and I are still overwhelmed by our accomplishment. I think it will take a long time to fully understand the impact this trip has had on us, our views and how it has undoubtedly changed forever the course of our lives. Mark and I certainly have not integrated the words brave or adventurous into how we would describe ourselves. We will need to work on that for a while. Mainly, we feel we are so fortunate that we were able to do this and we are thankful that we are safe and sound. We also feel incredibly lucky to have had so much support from our family and friends. You have sustained us on this journey.
Now we are starting another great adventure. That is returning to the states, and deciding what we want to do with the rest of our lives. Should Mark return to a similar job he used to have for 30+ years or start a new career? Where will I be working? Where should we live? How should we live, what kind of life style do we want? These are the questions we are asking ourselves now. As we make our way to Florida and then back to New England, we will continue to post to this blog and share the answers to these questions as they come to us. Our home coming there will be quite the experience for us in many ways. So, stay tuned.