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I’m still waiting for one of those serene overnight passages that everyone talks about being so wonderful. Oh, we’ve had them to be sure, but so long ago, they’ve been banished to the back recesses of my memory by the last three overnighters that we’ve undertaken. Trinidad to Union Island? Ugly. Bequia to St. Martin? Not relaxing. St. Martin to Virgin Gorda? Well, let’s just say that we’re keeping the trend going.

We made it through the night and we were still smiling. No critiquing the poorly reefed main sail. That is a result of reefing in the dark while going downwind in 25+ knots of wind and big waves.

Before we left, I wrote about how we’d be sailing downwind which, admittedly, is better than bashing into the wind and seas. It does not, however, guarantee a smooth passage. As we’ve come to expect, the wind, which was forecast to be no more than 15 knots, was for a considerable time 20 or better, with gusts over 25. In addition to the wind being a bit stronger than we would have liked, it was also pretty much directly behind us, forcing us to sail a bit off the rhumb line to avoid jibing the boat as the waves knocked us around. Oh yeah, about those waves, they were pretty big, and close together. I’m not sure what is worse… not being able to see the large waves in the darkness or seeing just how large they really are come dawn.

We gybed a couple of miles before we ran into “The White Horses,” a large reef on the end of Anegada.

Another downside to sailing on so deep a reach is that we basically needed to hand steer for the majority of the trip. Oh, the auto pilot is again functioning with the hundred dollar belt now installed in it but on that point of sail, with the waves pushing us around, we were doing better steering the boat ourselves.

As for hand steering, I will freely admit that I am not the world’s best helmsman. Rebecca is probably better at that task than I am, I think. The challenge with sailing at night is having a point of reference to steer towards. When we first left St. Martin we had a beautiful half moon right in front of us, lighting our path. When it dipped below the horizon it left behind a couple of nice bright stars to help guide our way. Eventually though, even they left us, and with nothing to steer towards, maintaining a straight course was all the more difficult.

Not Photoshop. We were playing around with our GoPro and it had
some kind of hippy flashback. Groovy, eh?

Challenges aside, we did obviously make it to our destination, no worse for wear other than being a tad sleep deprived. So much so that, after clearing in to the BVIs at the relatively new Customs and Immigration office in Gun Creek, Virgin Gorda, we passed up Happy Hour on shore to take a nap. Don’t worry though, we’re both feeling much more spry today after getting a good night’s sleep. We’ll try to find ourselves some fun to get into today.

Welcome to the BVIs!

28 Comments

  1. I hope you guys are going to Anagada…….Wonderful quiet place!

  2. When we finally get together, remind me to discuss the issue of handsteering a course at night.
    I may know a trick or two that can help. Although, from the Spot track, it looks like you did pretty well.

  3. Any consideration on a wind vane in the future?

  4. Good stuff, always keep a preventer in mind…

  5. Considering the circumstances I think you guys did extremely well!!! congrats on another passage under your belts!!! Enjoy your new(revisited) backyard!!! LOL…

  6. How would your speed downwind have compared if you had lowered the mainsail completely and just used your whole genoa?

    I have read this works well on the newer cats. It works well on my old one. However all boats are different and I know nothing about PDQ’s.

    It certainly makes steering much easier.

    Mike

    • We had hoped to be able to do just that and in fact, started out that way. The winds were lighter at the time though so unless we wanted to be sailing for 24 hours or more, we were forced to raise our main with a single reef. That worked fine and we were able to keep our speed around 6 knots. The wind and waves built though and we were forced to reef both the genny and put a second reef in the main as we became overpowered. I “could” have wrestled the main down altogether while still going downwind but if I had and didn’t like the result, we’d have never gotten it back up again. We didn’t want to come about in those waves.

  7. Just returned from a land-locked weekend on St. Croix. You are living the dream that I have. Just discovered your site and will be following your progress.

    Thanks for blogging it…

  8. Mike
    Something to consider when sailing downwind in heavy air or any
    time you are shorthanded (always for ZTC?). Do not raise the main,
    as it is more trouble than it is worth. Use only the genoa or
    spinnaker. Try it , you will be glad you did. You will also find steering
    to be much easier.
    Ed

  9. Great job! more experience under your belt.

  10. I see St. Croix mentioned here. I have been following your blog for better than a year.There is great hiking on the Island of St.Croix.Kind of a ‘Hidden Jewel’ in the Caribbean. ( Someone to thank or that).Three Great and Safe anchorages on North shore and many all around the Island.( And they Welcome ‘Cool Cats from Canada’)………Stop on over……you will be pleasantly surprised! J.M.Gustitis…….onSt.Croix Grew up 125 miles South of Moose Jaw Sask,Ca.

  11. It takes some courage to do this, even if its not that rough. Kudos.

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