When you see photos of sailboats with their brightly colored spinnakers flying, the boats are typically sailing down wind. They may be heading directly down wind, on a run, or just a bit up from that on a broad reach. Racers, who are used to sailing laps around marks on a course, get a lot of practice on all points of sail, including these. So do those sailors heading west around the world. For cruisers like us though, who first had to battle their way south and east via The Thorny Path, and then have spent time moving up and down through the windwards and leewards, downwind sailing is a seldom used skill. In fact, the only time I remember having any real downwind sailing at all in the Caribbean is when we we’ve moved west along Grenada’s southern coast. That’s not a lot!
No, we will not be flying our spinnaker tonight.
Tonight’s passage from St. Martin to Virgin Gorda should finally allow us to get some more practice on our downwind sailing. The forecasted winds will blow, as they typically do, from the east and that’s also where the waves should be originating as well. We expect that the approximately 80 nm passage should be relatively fast and we’ll be leaving late this evening to complete it overnight. We’ve heard from a number of our friends that, when they completed this passage, the sailing was so fast that they had to work to slow down so as to not arrive too early, absent of good light. Let’s hope that we are neither too slow nor too fast.
Today we have little to do but say some goodbyes to our friends and complete the final passage preparations on our boat. By this time tomorrow, if all goes well, we”ll be back in the land of the Virgins. Wish us luck.