French single-handed sailor, Jean-Luc Fontaine arrived in St Lucia, onboard the yacht Spirit of Clyde yesterday.
After helping to tie up the yacht, Jean-Luc drank a toast to his rescuers with cold rum punch on the dockside in Rodney Bay Marina and recounted his story.
Jean-Luc was forced to abandon his yacht Sagittaire, a 1969 Jouet, on 29th November in position 22.35N, 24.34W after hitting an unidentified object which damaged the rudder, and the watertight integrity of the hull. Two ARC yachts, Candela and Spirit of Clyde were notified on the emergency via the ARC net, and went to the aid of Sagittaire. Due to larger crew numbers on board Candela, Jean-Luc was transferred to Spirit of Clyde having taken the decision to evacuate from the damaged vessel. Before leaving the yacht Jean-Luc was forced to cut the salt water inlets to scuttle it, since the stricken yacht would have posed a navigational hazard for other shipping. Jean-Luc commented "It was a hard thing to decide to do. And watching my yacht go down was very sad, but it was the right decision to abandon her." Skipper of Spirit of Clyde, Irvine Watson, said: "The rescue worked well. It was too far to tow the yacht, and so the only option was to take Jean-Luc onboard. It was something we just had to do as fellow sailors, as of course we would all hope that someone would do the same for us if the need ever arose. Jean-Luc made a great extra crew member - and is a very good cook! We are all obviously pleased to be here in St Lucia."
In other ARC news, the programme is in full flow, having kicked off with a fantastic early arrivals party last week. General Manager of Rodney Bay Marina, Cuthbert Didier, kindly hosted the party in the grounds of his house on the banks of Rodney Bay Lagoon on Tuesday evening. A local steel band played fantastic music, whilst participants, most of whom had arrived by water taxi, enjoyed food and drink hosted by the St Lucia Tourist Board.
Participants are enjoying relaxing, whilst making the most of the various activities organised by the St Lucia Tourist Board, in conjunction with local pubs and restaurants.