"The Bat" (aka Turbo Squirrel) jury rig did the trick for El Syd in what Navigator Craig Dymock described on arrival as a "Completely mad voyage!".
It was an almost titanic struggle against the elements for the eight guys on board, when on Day 1, the steering broke, then on Day 2 the boom fell off! Despite setting up a temporary repair, the steering went again on Day 3 and on Day 4 they hove too for 3 hours to administer further repairs. The Day 4 repairs involved the use of a pump handle and a wardrobe rail! These repairs lasted until Day 9 when the addition of a broom handle into the equation remedied the situation! Sailing hard was also a problem because too much pressure would have caused the makeshift repairs to break! However, under a poled out number three and a second number three (the Turbo-Squirrel/Bat) they still managed to achieve a top speed of 16.9 knots! Other hiccups included lost instruments and a lost spinnaker halyard, crew injuries including a cracked rib, broken toe and a bolt through the skull! After the crew arrived in St Lucia in good spirits yesterday, skipper Ian McKinney, commented when asked for his opinion on the trip "it was stern!" However, he could just be referring to the fact that they ran out of cigarettes three days out from St Lucia!
Spirit of Diana, a British Farr 65 took line honours for the Atlantic Rally For Cruisers on 7 December. Spirit of Diana was skippered by 22 year old Ross Daniel (GBR).
In other news from the fleet, Lady Caribe, already some way behind the main group following a detour to the Cape Verde Islands, has gone to the aid of a Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge boat. The crew of the rowing boat, Domani 2, were running low on food, and with the support vessel some 10 days away from them, Lady Caribe offered to turn back and assist. It took almost 20 hours of searching and sailing away from St.Lucia before the two vessels rendezvoused and supplies were passed across. All aboard Domani were well and pleased to see Manfred Theissig and his crew.
For these crews it is still over 1,200 nautical miles to St.Lucia, for others, the finish has almost arrived. Aboard, Valhalla an air of excitement is building as they close on the finish. Kate Gower, sailing across the Atlantic for the first time, describes the skipper's instructions to "sniff the finish". Kate continues: "We are all sniffing the air, because Skipper Jeremy and Ringer Harry say this is the first sign you get that you are getting close to land (another Jeremy and Harry myth?). All aboard expecting and hoping to smell pollen before we smell garbage!"
Kate continues: "The drama of the last 24 hours has been the Squall-Dodging. Basically, we haven't been able to dodge them. Right now there are "Clouds With Potential" on the horizon, but we're hoping we've paid our dues. We are all even cleaner because of it. The bets are on for what time we arrive in St. Lucia and the plans are being made to see how many sails we can get up as we swing around the corner into Rodney Bay."
The ARC finish line is staffed 24 hours a day by a team of volunteers on yachts, ready to give the crews a smile and a hooter blast when they finish. In Rodney Bay Marina, the bars and cafes are now busy with crew after 70 ARC yachts have arrived, with many more expected in the next few days.