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A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to St. Lucia

Amazing people, with stories to match, filled St Lucia’s bars, restaurants and, of course, the marina over the Christmas period, as they’ve done for the past 16 years — and hopefully the next.

Spirit of Juno

Take the crew of the 65ft Spirit of Juno, crewed by ex-service personnel from the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association (BLESMA). The charity organization, formed after WWI, takes care of the health and welfare of its members.

First Mate Paul Burns, one of the crew of 15 (one female) who made ARC history when they docked at Rodney Bay Marina, was full of praise for BLESMA.

Burns, along with the rest of his crew, sustained injuries in a plethora of global conflicts. He lost a leg in Northern Ireland after an IRA bombing.

But the crew don’t feel handicapped, all are proficient sailors and always looking for the next challenge.

Three of the crew previously took part in the Global Challenge race.

However, experience in the ARC did count, with weather conditions less than ideal for the majority of the crossing.

“We were hoping the weather would be at least fair,” said Burns, “but we experienced a bit of a hurricane and the winds were gusting quite high. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience and everyone seemed to enjoy it. They were whooping it up and hollering.”

But it wasn’t all plain sailing, especially when they ran out of tea and sugar. Serious stuff! After all, Britain based an empire on this kind of thing!

Sergeant Wayne Harrod, the only crew member still on active duty with a battalion unit in England, described the crew as “a bunch of old soldiers who need a bit more discipline.”

The Minnow

Then there was the story of the evacuation of The Minnow’s skipper. Bob had unfortunately cut and burnt his finger after catching his hand in a block.

MRCC Martinique were contacted and duly arranged for a passing freighter to evacuate Bob for some urgent medical attention. Once alongside, the freighter lowered a net and Bob got in and was winched aboard. A helicopter then united Bob and hospital.

A missing skipper is one thing, but a missing musician, is well, more or less the same thing in this case. Bob was also part of the band aboard The Minnow (two tubas and a piano shared The Minnow with the crew) and so a tuba player short and three days until landfall they rehearsed the best they could.

Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” could have been retitled “In a Mood” as the duo stuck to the task of entertaining the expectant throngs of Rodney Bay Marina—Bob was sorely missed!

Lazy Dawn

The first 40.7ft Beneteau Lazy Dawn was far from lazy as they flew their Parasailor in 30 Knots of wind about a couple of days from reaching St Lucia. Deciding to snuff the sails as the wind increased they lost a sheet over the side. Murphy’s law did the rest when it lassoed the propeller.

With no means of motion, Skipper Chris donned a small pony dive tank to free the propeller. No easy task with the rolling ocean swell, the risk of the boat slamming down on him was always a danger.

With Murphy’s Law again in evidence Chris’ air ran out, much to the concern of the crew and in particular his wife. Holding his breath and slashing for all he was worth Chris set about the entangled sheet—eventually dragging himself back on board and away from Murphy’s Law!

Concerned that this wayward sheet had affected their performance, the crew were happy to discover that Lazy Dawn and the prop were all going forward together.

Odienne

The all-lady crew of the Odienne surprised everyone at their stealthy finish. The Turkish crew—along with a couple of male stowaways—crossed the finishing line without radio contact and if it hadn’t have been for some keen eyes, who witnessed them circling around the finishing line, we might still be in the dark!

Odienne finally made contact and said “oh yes, we crossed the line 20 minutes ago!”

Spirit of Venus

Spirit of Venus saw stars when entering Rodney Bay Marina. Their engine wasn’t behaving and, after a test, they decided to chance it. Happy at reaching land, excitement took hold and finding out there’s no reverse, when contact is imminent, isn’t always the best way to dock but probably the quickest!

Om Shanti

Probably the best dressed crew was the Om Shanti contingent. They crossed the Rodney Bay finishing line in full evening dress! This was Om Shanti’s skipper, John Pearce, 27th Atlantic crossing and described it as “the most exciting, frustrating and demanding I have ever completed.”

Annamin

The crew on board the 43ft Annamin recounted how they came off second to a brief liaison with a large sperm whale in the mid-Atlantic. “We don’t know if it was an aggressive move by the whale, probably not, however a very large sperm whale as big as the boat, hit us broadside and then dived under the boat, catching itself on the prop shaft.” A bent propeller shaft meant that the yacht had to be towed into Rodney Bay Marina Saturday—now that's a whale of a story!

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