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Join Mera around the world …

Join MERA and her crew around the world through this blog. Welcome to a discovery trip where you can feel the salty sea, hear the waves, watch the sunrise, know the taste of the great sea …

 

Mera blue at ancor (1)

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Passage Aruba to San Blas

Afruba to San Blas

550 miles from Aruba to San Blas, Panama

Sailing slow

In order to reach San Blas during day time, we left Aruba one late afternoon, with a plan to spend 3 nights on the high seas. However, weather reports indicated strong winds outside Columbia, so we slowed down with the hope those strong winds would calm down before we came into this area. A later weather report had a gale warning just north of our route. Again we slowed down, and took a more southern turn. All in all meaning we kept a lower pace, and spent 4 nights on this passage. A little annoying was that we used 2 different weather services, sometimes giving contradicting forecasts.

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PICTURE LEAVING ARUBA

 

What a fantastic machine

With one day left of the passage, Espen read in a book that we were supposed to fill in Panama immigration forms 48 hours before ETA (estimated time of arrival) via internet. Espen called up his wife Robin on the sat phone and asked her to fill in the internet forms, which she gladly did. His comment after the call was “What a fantastic machine”, holding the sat phone. Or was it a fantastic person in the other end of the line?

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Fantastic?

 

Who has been fiddling with the Gps again?

The chart plotter of Mera can be set to show gps position and charts in either of 3 directions: North up, Heads up, and Course up. The preferred setting has been Heads up, so that what you see on the screen is what you have in front of the boat. However, since the plotter receives a new gps location every few seconds, and since the gps accuracy is some +/- 20 meters, the calculated direction, or heads up, of the boat becomes somewhat erratic. And the plotter rewrites the map every few seconds with the heading fluctuating +/- 20 degrees. This flickering of charts does not help for sea sickness.

On one night shift one of the crew members swapped the plotter settings to Course up, leading to a stable map, but a flickering direction line. Only draw back is that the boat actually moves up the screen, and the map is not rewritten until the boat has passed half screen. Then moving the boat back to bottom of screen.

 

Joy killer

The (lack of) gps accuracy means the speed displayed will flicker +/- up to 5 knots. This was also the case when we experienced extreme high speed during the passage to Aruba, seeing 18,8 knots on the screen. Unfortunately it cannot be ruled out that part of those 18,8 knots was due to gps inaccuracy. Nevertheless, boat speed was very high surfing down a wave, and water was splashing all over.

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PICTURE 3-4 meter waves with Tim at helm

 

2 hour action movie

We had 3 hour shifts on the steering wheel. Night shifts could be somewhat boring, unless something unexpected turned up. Like another ship, spotted via AIS, on the chart plotter. That meant you were in for 2 hours of pure action. Seeing how the foreign ship entered our 24 mile range, slowly moving closer, possibly changing course, culminating with a climax at 3-4 miles from the boat, and then slowly disappearing in the night. Exhilarating shift. Will be seen as a luxury on the long passages on the Pacific, where we expect to see no boats what so ever for days or weeks.

AIS

 

Starboard to starboard passing

In one of those 2 hour action movies, we actually came head on collision course with a ship en route from Panama to Rotterdam. We called them up on VHF, they adjusted their course, and confirmed “starboard to starboard passing, over”

Titanic

 

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ESPEN & CREW (PETS of MERA)

Percent complete

In San Blas, at 78 degrees west, Mera has reached 24% of the longitude goal.

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Approaching San Blas, Panama

Life in Aruba

Stg Lucia to Aruba

Previous passage took us from St Lucia to Aruba

Main purpose for Mera to go to Aruba was to pick up Per, who joined the crew for a 3 week period until Panama. In order to make the pick up of Per convenient, Mera was moored in the central harbor of Oranjestad, the capital. Which is only a few km from the airport. The harbor was owned by the nearby hotel, and access to their facilities was included in the harbor fee. Providing for our basic needs.

Maslow

So we showered, relaxed by the pool, used their wifi, charged our batteries, took the hotel shuttle boat out to the hotel’s private coral island, and in general tried to use as many free towels as we possibly could.

Hotell pool Aruba

What do you think she weighs?

Out at the hotel’s private coral island, we went snorkelling on a ship wreck just 1-4 meters below surface. There were more fish than in a fish soup. However, watching fish was not the main attraction for all crew members. Some found more pleasure in watching other creations from the comfort of the sun chair. Crew member A had his eyes on one of the splendid cruise liners that passed by and asked crew member B: “Wow, what do you think she weighs?” Thinking: clearly more than Mera.

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Crew member B slowly answered: “About 90 pounds”.

Crew member B’s focus of attention was on the curves of a female beauty on a sun chair near by.

Censored

Home sick

Seeing so many beautiful women on the beach created some home sickness. But this was quickly cured by another creature on the beach.

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If you think you married a lizard, think again

Other animals worth mentioning include the pink flamingos. Seemingly wing clipped.

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Espen & The Crew

 

Sverker amish? (or Danish?)

One crew member, who seems to have a bit of amish blood, refrains from using unnecessary chemicals in or on his body. Including sea sickness pills or sun cream. Consequently, he had a bit of sea sickness on the passage to Aruba. And his back got a clear pattern from the life west.

 

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Christoph and Dagmar

In Aruba, Tim ran in to old friends Christoph and Dagmar from Germany. Tim had sailed parallell to them on a passage from South Africa to South America. Meeting up in different harbours en route. Cristoph and Dagmar have sailed around the world, and now ply the waters of Caribbean, wondering “What now? What else is there to do?”. Over dinner, we tried to get as much useful information as possible on sailing conditions, good harbours and how to pass the Panama canal. Christoph and Dagmar were very helpful. One piece of info they shared was that the passage between Aruba and San Blas was among the worst they encountered on their circumnavigation. Constantly strong winds and high waves, especially around the north corner of Columbia.

 

National holiday

We had the pleasure to experience one of the national holidays of Aruba. This one was the birthday of the man who managed to free Aruba from Holland. We went to a fair ground where they served street food and had a concert with the crème de la crème of Aruban music. Only one missing was the male singer from Boney M. According to Wikipedia, the most famous Aruban ever.

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Espen & The Crew

 

Preparation for passage to San Blas

We provisioned in a super market in the outskirts of Oranjestad. Inside, they had an assortment you would expect from any good super market in Holland. Dutch beer, dutch vegetables, dutch potatoes, dutch wafers, even dutch Wasa knæckebrød 😊.

Tim prepared pasta Bolognese for 2 dinners, reducing the need to cook on the swells of the high sea. Passage expected to take 4 days.

The Overland nautical circumnavigation expedition

There is something contradictory in the name of this expedition. Cannot really put my finger on it. Anyhow, expedition started from Porsgrund back in July. Porsgrund is at longitude 10 degrees East. One of the goals of circumnavigation is to pass all 360 degrees longitude, returning to the starting point at 10 degrees east. Mera will have passed all 360 degrees long before she returns to Norway: in the South Atlantic, some days after leaving Cape town of South Africa in 2020, all 360 degrees will have been passed. At St Lucia, longitude 61 degrees west, 71 degrees has already been ticked off, corresponding to 71/360 = 19,7 % of the longitude goal.

Mera spent some 40 days in the waters around St Lucia, from December 6 to January 18. Different crew constellations of family and close friends used the opportunity for some relaxed day cruising, visiting different parts of St Lucia and the nearby island of Martinique.

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The Captain couple

New crew

By January 15 the new crew started arriving. The goal of this crew is to bring Mera to New Zealand (tentative) at longitude 174 degrees East. Corresponding to (10+180+6)/360 = 54,4% of the longitude goal, of which almost 35 percentage points under the new crew:

Tim, a 59 year old Canadian living with his Brazilian wife and daughter in… well Brazil. Easier to get a Canadian to relocate to Brazil than vice versa. Tim has a background in the oil industry, but since October 2016 he is in his second career: Sailing. He has obtained his Yacht Master Ocean license in South Africa and has sailed for roughly 40 years. Tim’s bucket list includes a circumnavigation.

Sverker, a 51 year old Swede, living with what used to be a family of 7 outside Stockholm. Since the 2 oldest children have already left the nest, right now its “only” a small family of 5. Sverker has a background in finance and controlling in the telco industry, but quit since there must be more to life than counting beans. With his 35 ft catamaran he nourishes a dream of circumnavigation. Sverker’s objective is to gain trans ocean sailing experience.

Espen, the 61 year old captain, is a Norwegian committed to sailing. He bought Mera 16 years ago, and has spent thousands of hours getting her into circumnavigation shape. Espen combines a rare mix of owner, captain and chief engineer of a 48 foot sailing yacht. But this you probably already know.

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SET crew

Crew abbreviation

Just as Mera is an abbreviation of Espen’s family member names, Maja, Espen, Robin and Alex, the new crew also has an abbreviation: the Set crew. According to captain’s plans, there should have been 1 more crew, John, in which case the crew name would have been the Jets.

Unfortunately, John never showed up in St Lucia, and due to poor communication we were not able to locate him during the 36 hours before we had to leave for Aruba. Hence 1 man short, which is not a big problem. In Aruba, Per an old friend of Espen, will join. Again changing the crew name, to Pets. The Pets of Mera.

 

Provisioning in St Lucia

For the 4 day passage to Aruba, we had to provision in St Lucia. A good supermarket made this a simple task, even if we could not find exactly what we were looking for, good alternatives were easy to find. For the stuff not sold in the supermarket, local dealers were more than eager to offer outside on the street. Mostly different types of grass, weed and coke. Which we all politely declined.

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The safe anchorage at Rodney Bay, St Lucia

Spending the last EC dime

In St Lucia, the currency is called East Caribbean dollars. Aruba is in west Caribbean, and they use a different currency. Meaning we had to spend our last local dimes. Espen solved his problem by paying part of the supermarket provisioning in cash, rest by card. Sverker, the bean counter, had just enough local currency left to buy the Set crew a round of beers, while Tim had a little too much. We had to have a nice dinner, a bottle of rum and an ice cream each before Tim’s cash was all spent.

 

The Passage to Aruba

We started the 550 nautic mile passage from St Lucia to Aruba early morning, with the aim to reach Aruba before sunset on the 4th day. Arriving at a new destination by night should be avoided. Trade winds were as expected, mostly at 8 to 14 meters per second. Downwind, also meaning the 1 to 2 meter waves worked in our direction. A current of 1 knot was also to our advantage.

On the first evening, we could see some baby tornados building up in distant clouds. Like a cone growing on the bottom of the cloud. We saw 3 or 4, but they quickly died. Some falling stars were observed that first night. Second night we encountered a couple of squalls (sudden gusts of strong wind often combined with heavy rain). The strongest pushed the boat up to 18,8 knots. After that experience, sails were reefed and Tim decided it was time to clip in, fastening his harness safety line to the boat to prevent man over board.

With the Set crew, we run a 3 hour rota, meaning 3 hours at the helm and 6 hours off. Luckily Espen got the wind wane to function, which meant the helming was reduced to overlook that nothing unexpected happened: squalls, broaches, ships, containers, pirates, whales, submarines, large 8-armed octopussy, mermaids, aliens…

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All according to plan, we reached the southern tip of Aruba at daybreak on day 4. The southern end of Aruba is industrialized and judged from our noses, also is the location of the city dump and garbage incinerator. Luckily the north end of Aruba with its capital Oranjenstadt is a nicer place to visit. Unfortunately, the americans have also recognized this: every day 3 boat loads of cruise ship passengers arrive, leaving by the end of the day.

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Percent complete

In Aruba, at 70 degrees west, Mera has reached 22% of the longitude goal.

MAP OF ROUTE

 

Soon change of crew and new destination

My first blog!

Family and Mayas friend Maria arrived the 13 – fantastic, I missed them! After some repair we sailed down south to Tobago Cays via Bequia wher we bought langouster we cooced onboard. Nice snorkeling at the reef with grilling onboard. Fresh sailing up wind back to Rodney bay.

Soon Robin and our friends Randi and Lars goes home afte two weeks of good sailing north to Martinique. A lots of nice snorkeling seeing fish in all coluers, and good food and drinks.

Next leg with new crew from Sweden and USA goes to Aruba 560 nm to pick up my friend Per.

Pictures coming!

Espen

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia er ikkje ei stor øy. Det tek ca. ein og ein halv time å køyra frå sør til nord.  I Rodney Bay er det marinaen som er det viktige og alt er samla omkring hamna. Det er ingen konsentrert landsby med sentrumsgate her. Det er nokre få butikkar og restaurantar her og boder der folk sel ting dei har laga sjølv + masseproduserte ting.  Eit lite stykke unna er det eit større handleområde.

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Hamna er travel og fyllest opp med ARC+-båtar for kvar dag som går.

Menneska her har ein meir avslappa stil enn det me opplevde i Las Palmas og Mindelo. Ting går litt sakte, og det passar godt etter fleire veker i sakte fart 🙂

Og ein flytande frukt- og grønnsaksbutikk er jo fint!

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Klesvask

Kleda våre trong vask og vaskeiet henta på brygga heldigvis!
Nokre av dei kunne me kanskje like godt kasta. Godt dei var gamle og slitt 🙂

buksebak

 

På besøk til hovudstaden

watertaxi

Øystein og eg (Ragna) tok vanntaxi (bilde over) og buss til handlemområdet og til hovudstaden Castries måndag. Det var ein ganske travel by med store turistmarknader der dei fleste selde det same og insisterte på at dei hadde laga det sjølv.  Castries har ei stor cruisehamn. Me såg lite europeiske turistar der, så trur at den svære båten som låg der hadde turistar frå dette kontinentet.

I Castries kom me nærare innpå korleis folk lever. Det er mange fattige her. Gjennomsnittløna er på om lag 2000 norske kroner per månad, og mange varer er veldig dyre. Her er det nesten norske prisar, så dei som har lite pengar handlar ikkje på supermarkedet.

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Me møtte mange vennlege folk som helsa på oss, særleg utanfor hovudgatene.  Det var  hyggeleg. Me tok ein tur i eit bustadområde. Varmt i motbakkane, men veldig fint. Eit stykke opp i bakken stoppa det ein bil for å advara oss mot å gå vidare inn i slumområdet. Eg veit ikkje om det var ein reell risiko, men me snudde. Med digre kamera omkring halsen er det vel ikkje så rart om nokon skulle tenkja at det er blodig urettferdig.

Rundtur

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Tysdag var me på tur rundt øya. Me leigde taxi saman med tre danskar og starta tidleg om morgonen.  Sjåføren var flink og kunnskapsrik og fortalde mykje om øya.  Me køyrde gjennom byar og nær dei mange hamnene i vest (Marigot Bay på biletet over). Bananprodusjon er ei svært viktig næring på øya, men etter at reglane vart endra og dei store amerikanske selskapa fekk like vilkår vart prisane dumpa og småskalabøndene her kunne ikkje få økonomi i drifta. Me passerte nokre bananplantasjar.

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Anse La raye er ein litt sliten landsby på vestsida av øya. Her var det tydeleg at cruiseturistane var innom. Heile gata var full av boder. Heldigvis var det nokon som selde sjølvlaga ting. Her er dekorert nøtt frå nasjonaltreet.

Kunst av nasjonaltreet

Det berømte fjellet Piton er høgt og spisst. Me stoppa på ein utsiktplass for å ta bilete, men det tok litt tid før me såg det. Det pøsregna og var tjukk skodde. Etter kvart klarna det opp og me fekk tatt dei obligatoriske bileta.

til syne bra

Sjåføren førte oss til ein “foss”. Ja, hermeteiknet er sett med vilje. Me betalte ein tiar for å koma inn. Der fossa det vatn frå ein liten kant nokre meter ovanfor oss. Folk kunne gå ut og dusja seg, men det imponerte ikkje ein nordmann …

Det var ein fantastisk jungel på vestsida av øya. Det var masse planter og tre me aldri har sett før, og midt på øya er det regnskog. Snakk om frodig landskap!

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Me åt nydeleg lunsj i Soufriére, ein fin by i sørvest. Roti er ein typisk Saint Lucia-rett.

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Så runda me sørspissen og tok austsida “heim” att.

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Dennery er ein fiskelandsby på austkysten av øya. Me ville stoppa der for å sjå oss om. Her var me kjempeheldige! Fiskebåtane kom akkurat inn. Dei hadde fiska med snøre og agn og hadde fått god fangst. Det var mange båtar, mykje fisk og hektisk stemning på brygga. Fantastisk oppleving!

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Fest og moro

ARC-festane her på øya er prega av rom-punsj, så det gjeld å vera forsiktig …

Fest

Me hadde flott velkomstssamling søndag og “sun-downer” lenge etter at sola gjekk ned på måndag. Tysdag var det bryggefest på ei smal brygge (privat initiativ) og onsdag var den store avslutningsfesten.  Veldig kjekke festar. Me begynner å bli kjent med folk. Det er fint 🙂

Avslutningsfest

Onsdag 6. desember var den store avslutningsfesten, med prisutdeling. Flott fest med underhaldning og utdeling av prisar.

Det gjekk rykte om at MERA hadde vunne C-klassen. Me var veldig spente. Og der stod det svart på gult!

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Me hadde dikta song undervegs (to nye vers på Mera-valsen. Den fekk me lov til å framføra då me tok imot prisen. Me hadde med skipsklokke og fekk stor applaus 🙂

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(Tone: Skomværsvalsen + innslag av “Somewhere under the rainbow”

Across the Atlantic with ARC

set spinnaker sail hey ho!

And MERA was waltzing as she felt free

To Mindelo – here we go.

The fishes were flying the dolphins they played

dorados were jumping and the tuna just died.

The dodger went bloody but nobody cried

Set mainsail – it`s wind right now.

Ref.:

Her shipsbelly song, you hear for long

we sail to the sea with the good old song

the ocean is big when the wind`s not strong

set mainsail – it`s wind right now.

… Somewhere under the floor board there was beer…

From Africa`s islands and straight to west

with spinnaker sail she glide.

The afternoon heat with a book and rest

Hey spinnaker sail! Give shade!

The menus are many in a restaurant way

and bread we have baked and some cakes during day

Equipment collapsed but we still have not cried.

Atlantic good bye – good bye!

Ref.:

Her shipsbelly song, you hear for long

we sail cross the sea with the good old song

the ocean is small when the wind blows strong

Saint Lucia – here we`ll stay

… Somewhere inside the cooler  – guess what we`re keeping there …

 

Glad prisvinnar

 

Glad prisvinnar

Her er glad prisvinnar med pokal! Me fekk flott artikkel i Seilmagasinet og Liv kom springande med norsk flagg 🙂

No er det klart for avreise for mannskapet. Espen seglar vidare på si eventyrreise.

Takk for opplevingar!

Me håpar at bloggen lever vidare med nye skribentar ombord.

 

God jul!

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Atlanterhavet – del 2

Å fylla dagar

Det handlar ikkje om å få dagane til å gå. Det handlar om å fylla dagar.Å kunna sitja i fleire timar med ei bok eller med skriving. For ein luksus! Eg (Ragna) har lese omkring 10 bøker. Det er ei god stille i lyden av segl og bølger.

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Sekstanten

Espen og jacques var på møte på las Palmas for å få tips til bruk av sekstant. Det er ikkje lenge sidan sekstant var instrumentet folk brukte for å navigera. I tidlegare tider las dei av resultatet frå tabellar. Espen hadde ein app som gjorde utrekninga lettare.

Her er Jacques i full gang med sekstanten.

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Radiokontakt

Klokka 11 var det radiokontakt mellom ein del av båtane. Alle oppgav posisjon, vindstyrke og kor lang tid dei hadde hatt motoren i gang. Me benka oss omkring ein veldig skurrete radio og lytta som om det skulle ha vore det mest spennande radioteater me hadde opplevd … Det var noko med å høyra andre stemmer 🙂

Vakt

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Me har delt opp vaktene i to samanhengande timar. På dagtid tok me det ikkje så nøye, men om natta var det vakt åleine og vekking av nestemann. Det var faktisk ganske deilig å vera åleine på vakt. Den stille natta gav ei spesiell stemning og ro. Me hadde rolege vindforhold, så det var lite forstyrringar. Berre MERA som gynga framover i sakte valsetakt – og av og til litt raskare.

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Varme

Det var ganske rart å vera i varme døgnet rundt.  Det var sikkert opp mot 35 grader på dagtid og ned mot 25 grader på kveldstid, så inne i båten og i sola var det i varmaste laget. Det er rart kva det går an å bli van til. Etter kvart sveitta me utan å tenkja over det, sjølv om nokon sleit med den varmaste tida på døgnet.

Av og til var det stas å gå i frysen å henta middagsmat. Frosen, vakuumpakka kylling var stas!

nedkjølar

Me nærmar oss

fart

Laurdag. Siste dag, og me hadde fleskepannekaker til frukost. Me kunne merka på stemninga at me nærma oss land.  Høg stemning. Me speida mot vest. 12.15 (UTC) kunne me skimta land i det fjerne. Det var ikkje uventa, men gjorde oss litt oppkava likevel 🙂 Konturane av Saint Lucia. Først berre noko lys brunt som likna på land.  Så vart konturane til landskap.

Det gjekk enno mange timar før me var i mål.

Mål i sikte!

Me hadde god fart då me runda neset og sette kursen mot målsteken og Rodney Bay, Spinnakeren vart tatt ned og me segla inn med tre kvite segl.  Og DER – me passerte målstreken klokka 13.34 lokal tid.

Jacques ved målstreken

Det var fotograf ute og tok bilde av oss og me fekk mange gratulasjonar på veg inn mot hamna. Der stod ARC-folk og tok imot oss med rompunsj og frukt. Fantastisk oppleving! Det var ei god kjensle å setja beina på landjorda att. Det gynga faktisk ikkje (slik det gjorde i Mindelo, der det var snakk om å setja sjøbein i dusjen 🙂

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Fem dagar med oppleving på Saint Lucia låg framfor oss 🙂