Sailing has been incredible as the major storm off the USA East Coast moves offshore. That weather system then pushed against the Caribbean Tradewinds blowing from Africa and held them back a bit. The normal winds here are 20-25 knots out of the east, but when large fronts heads off the coast, the trades die down to 10-15 knots and sometimes clock towards the south. We have been sailing these calmer winds from Antigua north to Barbuda 30 miles, then Barbuda to St. Barth’s 75 miles and then 15 miles to Ile Tintamarre off St. Martin. We sailed 90% of these legs and mostly under our code zero headsail. What a dream. Thank you to all the USA East Coast friends and family who have taken one for the team by enduring that major winter storm. svIslandSpirit appreciates it!
When you see the Southern Cross for the First Time
Classic rock fans who know Crosby Stills Nash and Young will know this lyric. It is in the song SOUTHERN CROSS and is one of the key lines…”When you see the southern cross for the first time, you’ll understand just why you came this way…” Well, as we were preparing to leave Barbuda, it was 4-5 am and the Southern Cross is always up around 2-6 am. The first time we spotted this was when we were sailing south and off of Dominican Republic after 2 nights at sea. There it was right off our starboard bow as we pushed south. That was very very cool.
Here the Southern Cross was even brighter than ever, as there is no light off Barbuda. So, looking south with the dim glow of the island of Antigua on the southern horizon, the Southern Cross was bold as ever pointing the way to the south. This is the guiding constellation for the southern hemisphere just like the Big Dipper is for the northern hemisphere. I took 20+ photos with my Google Pixel 5a set to the “night shot” setting. Sure enough, I got one good photo. Look at this! For all, you rock fans, listen to and watch CSNY play this song here: https://youtu.be/iuLBhxZUkmU
We are new to using this furling code zero 165% headsail. We have learned that it sails best upwind to 60 degrees and downwind to 150 degrees. Lower than that, it is not happy as it is a reaching sail. For dead downwind, we would set a wing on wing with our jib and a whisker pole. It is a fun challenge learning the best points of sail and wind conditions with this sail.
Today was one of those perfect angles. We set up on a course of a 150-degree wind angle in 12-15 knots of true wind, starboard reach. We set a full mainsail as well. Soon after we set sail, we thought, why not roll out the staysail? This little sail gave us another 0.25 to 0.5 knot of speed. We sailed 50 miles like this and averaged 5.5 to 6 knots. It was fantastic. Eventually around 1400 hours, we needed to turn dead downwind, or else we would sail right past St. Barth’s. So we furled the two headsails and motored downwind. We wanted to make the harbor by dusk and we just so made it. This was a 12-hour passage.
Autopilot Wind Angle Sailing
I wanted to point this out one more time. We set sails, we trim to course, next we look at the wind angle and then we set the autopilot to hold this given wind angle. NOW, the boat will sail at this angle and the pilot will steer right and left as it maintains the specified angle. Look below at a 1 hour time plot of our wind yesterday. This is very typical. You will see a low of 078 degrees and a high of 108 degrees. That is a 30-degree wind shift over time. The boat follows this. If you were steering by hand, you would have sails luffing or overpowered because it would be very difficult to follow these wind shifts. We sail with the autopilot set to “Wind” instead of “Heading Hold” or “Navigation” 99.9% of the time. It really works!
Tuna For Dinner
We first landed one barracuda. I saved its life and let it go, but the football tuna we gladly kept and filleted for the frig. It was pan-seared in olive oil 2-3 minutes per side and enjoyed with buttered carrots. Yum Yum.
Arrival at Ile Tintamarre
This is our first stop at another beautiful beach to anchor near after a great day of sailing. We like to take the dinghy into the surf line, as the beach is steep with waves crashing onto it and landing is not my fav. So, we drop the anchor and swim in from there. Then we enjoy the beach and hikes and swim back to the dinghy and use our great dinghy ladder to climb back in. It is difficult to get into a dinghy from a swimming position when you cannot stand. It is possible, but a ladder makes it so much better.
After a great beach walk and a swim and a tour of the yachts in the harbor, it was time for hot showers and watching the sunset. Caribbean Sunsets never disappoint. This one set over St. Martin as we watched from Ile Tintamarre.
Live tracking and Tracking Map Archives
We have a live tracking map that shows where we are 24/7. We also pay for and use a service called SpotWalla. This programmer is brilliant as he created a program that allows us to archive tracking pins into individual trips. We feel this is far better than one massive archive like Garmin does. Sure, it is fun to see where we have sailed over the past many years, but, where have we sailed JUST THIS SEASON? That is the solution SpotWalla created.
- See where we are anytime here:
- See our Archive Trip Maps here!
- See our CURRENT SEASON here: Nov Puerto Rico to Maryland June