We had a nice time sailing around the BVI's but now it's time for our return journey back to St. Martin. It's an 80nm distance of open water to cross so it's a significant trip. We've been watching the weather window not because of any storms but to see if we can get wind from the right direction so we can sail back rather than have to motor like we did on the way over.
Having a large motor and big fuel tanks in a yacht this size gives you the option of being able to not worry too much about getting somewhere when you need to but, why have a sailboat if you don't sail? Lucky for us, we'd been following the forecast for the day we needed to cross for a week and it looked like we would get some northerly winds that would take us all the way under sail.
Because it's such a long day (80nm at 7-9 kts = ~12 hours) we started at 4:00am. The stars were up and the Milky Way was very visible. Andy and Elli got us off anchor and we motored out of the bay we had moored in overnight. The lights of various towns on the islands around us provided a nice reflection on the water. There was no moon so it was very dark. We motored around the corner from Peter Island and set out the sails. The wind was OK but nothing great. At least it was coming from the north! A little while later we got past the influence the islands had on the wind and the strength picked up a bit and blew steady from the north.
The morning sunrise was beautiful and we were moving out at around 8 kts in a nice beam reach. As the day progressed the winds moved a little more to the east and we ended up in a close-haul which was more uncomfortable (larger heel to the yacht) but the tradeoff was higher speed. At times we were over 9 kts and the swells weren't too bad so we just cruised along. By the time we got to St. Martin, we had spent the entire 12 hours on one tack averaging around 7.5 kts! It doesn't get any better than this!
We pulled back into the marina we started out from, Marina Ft. Louis in Marigot, and tied up stern to. The next day we wandered around Marigot a bit and found it to be a nice town with a good selection of restaurants. A coffee shop, La Pyramide in a close by shopping center, not only has great coffee but fast internet access as well (buy some coffee get their password). Sweet!
A couple days later we left to go back home but this experience of living on a sailboat for while got us excited to do a lot more. The Caribbean lived up to its reputation as a meca for sailors. Can't wait for the next trip!
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