There was a combined ARC Plus farewell party and an ARC welcome party that was spectacular but very hard to describe as it all seemed a bit surreal. There were people on stilts, a brass band, some traditional dancers, a small orchestra, guitarist, ballet dancer and then an amazing drag act. I don’t normally like drag acts but this lot were on another level. There were some very athletic men doing pole dancing and acrobatics, sliding down suspended ropes in in next to nothing, clothes wise. We had wine, nibbles and danced like crazy. It was such a good night. Kika crew were there, some of our neighbours from our pontoon who called us party animals the next day. We caught up with some other friends later who were feeling the worse for wear as they didn’t leave until 5.30 am.
Our friends on Kika left on Sunday with the rest of the boats taking part in the ARC Plus.
There were about 40 boats and they will go via Cape Verde and arrive in St Lucia before the main ARC arrives. We got the dinghy down and followed them out of the marina and cheered them on their way before cycling along the promenade to watch the boats jostling around the start line. There’s a 3 hour penalty if you cross the line ahead of time so it was all a bit frantic as 1pm got nearer but little Kika was 4th to cross the line.
We then headed into town to a lovely little Cuban bar/restaurant that we’ve discovered and had a few mojitos. Lethal!
Meanwhile, Clive thought it would be a good idea for me to do some dive training to keep me occupied so I agreed to go along to the dive centre to see what courses were available. Within 5 minutes he’d signed me up to do a PADI open water dive course which started the next day. The first dive was held at our club’s swimming pool and I had a panic attack which wasn’t a good start. The instructor was very good and calmed me down. After that we spent the rest of the lesson (about an hour) at the bottom of the pool doing various exercises like taking our masks off and then putting them back on and clearing the water out, swimming upside down with all the gear on, towing our buddies along without their masks, etc. The second pool dive consisted of more complicated exercises, practising buoyancy and how to share air with our buddies underwater incase we run out. There was plenty of reading and a DVD to watch for homework. The first open water dive was from a small harbour on the North West of the island. After about 10 minutes I realised that it was not for me. My instructor tried to persuade me to continue and was very patient but my mind was well and truly made up. I’ll stick to snorkelling!
I learnt plenty on the course and it will all be very useful for when I have to go under the boat to take pictures or incase of emergencies. We’ve got a ‘hookah’ system that we imported from Canada that consists of a small transportable generator and a 20 metre breathing tube so that you can breath air but still remain attached to the boat or dinghy. I’ll be ok with that and going under the boat or even diving down about 10 - 15 feet will be fine. I just don’t want to go 15 metres under!!
Things are ramping up here now and there’s a daily Sundowner meeting each evening where there are free drinks and various local delicacies to sample. The workshops and seminars have also started and you can pick and choose which ones to attend.
We bought ARC polo shirts today for us and our crew and will have them embroidered with ’Sephina of Beaumaris’ to add the professional touch. Talking of crew, our youngest and her fiancé arrive on Saturday to help with preparations for the crossing. I can’t wait.