Lots of rain, squalls and no wind in the final few days of the passage followed by the last day or so of dead, flat seas. This rounds out the weather for the trip as we've had a wide variety of conditions to work through with both the crew and FG handling them all with aplomb. I'm not trying to minimize the effects of weather on our sailing but this big Hallberg-Rassy yacht was designed to take on these conditions and thrive, and so she has.
At 03:00 UTC on 16-Dec-2011 we spotted the lights of St. Lucia in the distance. Over the next number of hours we sailed in the moonlight underneath puffy little clouds and a gentle breeze. For me, it was the most enjoyable sailing I've done on the entire passage. Maybe because it was the first taste of sailing in the Caribbean rather than the Atlantic (although we were still strictly in the Atlantic Ocean). Perhaps it was because we now had the finish line almost in sight. Regardless, it was the best sailing of the entire passage for me.
Two other ARC yachts were in the area and we were all aimed at the same spot; to round the north side of St. Lucia at Pigeon Island .As we came around the corner we spotted the finish line marked by an anchored yacht with its lights on and a lighted buoy about 1/2 nm away from it. A huge (74 foot) catamaran, the Cattitude, was in front of us but, as the rules said we had to sail across the line, they had cut their motor, raised their sails and were attempting to sail (sorry catamaran fans but as luxurious as this yacht was, it was not really made to sail in light winds like this). The wind was only 4 kts so it was really hard for him to move at all.
Amazingly Feelin' Good was moving along at 2.5 kts and we were on a tack that would put us in position to do one last tack to sail across the finish line. In slow motion, we evenutally passed Cattitude, called out some greeting to her crew and enjoyed the moment of moving along under moonlit skies in such light winds. I learned something new about this big HR-54, it can handle really light winds (as I learned later, a German Frers tradition). As we passed over the finish line, the ARC judges blew a horn to signal our completion of the ARC and to note our time across the line. It was a remarkable moment not just because we were the 36th yacht to cross the line so far but because it signaled completion of an adventure the four of us had set out to accomplish. Teamwork, first-class seamanship and friendship converged in that moment. We all hugged each other. I'll never forget it.
Art found his Mojo, Roland got a taste of what his upcoming retirement will be like, Gustavo fulfilled a lifelong dream of an Atlantic crossing and Sean renewed his love of being out on a passage far from the sounds and smells of 'civilization'.
Along the way, something special happened to Wilson. A new woman came into his life, Wilma. At first they were strangers. Located on the same shelf but separated by some distance. As the passage went along, we started to notice them moving closer together. We're bit unsure when this happened but they remained close and at night Gustavo, who bunked closest to them, mentioned how he heard leaves rustling in the wee hours of the night. That's OK because what happens on Feelin' Good stays on Feelin' Good. If you look closely in the photo they are intertwined a bit, not sure how that hanky-panky happened but we're keeping a close watch on Wilma. She may be too loose of a woman for Wilson...
Till the next adventure, saluti!
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