Today was so much fun! It was our longest continuous sailing with the code zero sail, 30 nm from Antigua north to Barbuda. The winds were 8-13 knots at 75 degrees off our starboard bow. We hoisted a double-reefed mainsail because the forecast was for 15 knots. With this sail, the upwind limit for us is 15 knots unless we are sailing off the wind, like a broad reach, then maybe up to 20 knots true. This course was slightly upwind, 15 degrees upwind, and if we had 15 knots, we would be on the edge of safely using this sail. In that situation, we would simply use the jib.
For the first time, we were able to set this sail and let it run for 6 hours straight. We sail 99.9% of the time with our autopilot set to hold a given wind angle. In this case, we dialed in 75 degrees. The beauty of wind vane steering is that we then trimmed our sails for this angle and the boat and the pilot maintained that angle. The winds are never from a fixed direction. They always veer or back 5-10-15 degrees. You can not see a 5-degree wind shift, but the pilot computer and sensors will, so the boat will steer and adjust to this new wind direction. We love it. We have the B&G Autopilot and we think it is the best of the best.
Here are my photos from this most glorious day of Caribbean Sailing.