By Cath Hough
eXXpedition – Barbados to St Lucia
The first watch team arose before sunrise to lift the anchor and set sail to St Lucia. After an adventurous first sail, a few days before the ladies were hoping for a smoother downwind passage! We were greeted with a pleasant 15knt breeze, meaning we were able to hoist the main and roll out the Genoa to set sail straight out of the harbor. In return for their early start, those on deck were treated to another spectacular sunrise on the horizon ahead of them. As Sea Dragon glided gracefully through the crystal blue waters, an even bigger treat was in store. Dolphins appeared weaving in and out of the bow wake!
The pod was around six, including a mother protecting her young by twisting and turning close to the hull. The morning watch was grateful to be woken early, as others slept down below the Dolphins put on a breathtaking show!
”This has to be one of the best moments of my life!!!”Rhiannon squealed as she watched the magical creatures. Agathe clicked away on her camera, while others leaned over the guardrails to try and get a closer view. This was definitely the most memorable start to our passage.
As we continued the wind became a little fickle, however, we used to opportunity to put together a scientific trawl. The manta trawl landed perfectly as it was chucked overboard and we trawled for 30 minutes to collect a sample ready to filter through the sieves and examine under the microscope. Some interesting findings came out of the net, including fish eggs, clear fibre, blue plastic fibre and green fibre.
Our journey continued and we laughed, joked, shared stories, took photos and looked out for wildlife on the sea. For all the women there was a great freedom to being out on the Ocean, leaving previous worries on the shore behind us, reflecting on past experiences and gathering thoughts for the future.
As we neared our destination the faint outline of St Lucia appeared on the horizon, just as the sun was going down. This left us with around four hours to sail to our waypoint on the North tip of the Island and into our anchorage in Rodney Bay. As the anchor held it was a welcome change to have such a flat calm night, in comparison to the rolling sea we experienced in Carlisle Bay.
The next morning we arose early for a short passage to Soufraire Bay, under the Pitons. As the spectacular volcanic mountains came into view it was an impressive site, a stunning backdrop for our third and final trawl. We again collected plenty to sieve through and sample, and the science team on board set about recording the material.
As the Pitons is a National Park, anchoring is prohibited, so for our final night aboard we picked up a mooring aided by the local boat boys. We were set in front of a perfect backdrop with the two peaks of the Pitons towering over us. That evening we all went ashore for a celebratory meal and drinks together for our final night as a team. There was a real sense of pride in all that we had achieved, both as a group and on a personal level. Every single one of the women on board has been on a journey, and we have discovered more about the ocean, our planet and how we can work together to tackle a global issue, one step at a time. The change in people was amazing, and everyone agreed the trip had changed them, all in different ways. As we motored back to the boat, the stars shone above us and the glistening twinkles of phosphorescent glowed in the water. We are so lucky to experience so many amazing displays of natural beauty and make friendships and bonds with women from around the world.