Thinking of heading back to the Leewards, 18:30.38N,64:22.35W

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 24 Apr 2016 10:22
The return passage from the Virgin Islands to the Leeward Islands is to the south east, and the forecasts for the coming week have been for south easterly winds, with the exception of the forecast for today, when the wind is showing as turning southerly, so on Friday we decided to aim to leave today.  Sarah has been trying to catch up with Alex, who she met on her yacht maintenance course last July, since our paths crossed at sea in the Canary Island, and as we had just learnt that Alex was in Gorda Sound that was where we decided to go to clear customs for our departure.

On Friday the wind was forecast to be a moderately strong north easterly, so the 15  mile passage was going to be to windward.  We got out our working jib, and sail that Phil designed and had made for us specifically for windward sailing and set of with that and a reefed main.  The first part of the trip was almost dead to windward, so we were tacking back and forth across the Sir Francis Drake Passage between Tortola and the smaller islands, but the sea inside the island group is generally reasonably smooth and was  a great sail, with the working jib setting well.

At the end of the Passage we turned more towards the north between Tortola and Virgin Gorda, got rid of the reef in the main, and made one long tack up to the Dog Islands before we had to tack in towards Virgin Gorda, and at that point it all changed.  We had been watching the rain clouds over Virgin Gorda, and occasionally one would head across towards Tortola.  As we closed the shore a squall came down to get us with pouring rain and enough wind that we needed to reef again.  By the time that was done and we were heading back north between Virgin Gorda and the Dogs we were both drenched.

The rain squalls continued for the rest of the trip, some with wind and some not, so we reefed and unreefed again, and were ready for a lie down when we finally dropped anchor in Gorda Sound.

Yesterday we cleared customs for today, and spent a pleasant couple of hours with Alex, Her husband Tom and brother Matthew, on their lovely yacht El Mundo, swapping sailing tales and talking about future plans.  Then when the wind and sea died down in the afternoon, Sarah dived down under the boat to get rid of the barnacles growing on the propeller, which were affecting the power of the engine.

We were up at 0600 today, ready for an early departure, but now the forecasts show the southerlies arriving later in the day.  So we need to decide when to go.

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