Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
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Re: Sailing a Hunter 49
We've been sailing the Eastern Caribbean over 7+ years and we rarely sail with anything but a deeply reefed main and a Yankee Jib (see picture on profile page). The average winter winds tend to be 18 to about 25 and your point of sail on a cruising boat is around 60 degrees, into 4 to 8-foot seas, unless you really want to drive your boat hard into the seas. The current sets primarily to the west, so you will be fighting for every inch of easting you can get, most days.
Christmas time brings Christmas Winds and most likely you'll be harbor bound for most, if not all of the period, so choose wisely, unless you actually like pounding across the channels in 25 to 35 knots of wind and the accompanying seas. And always remember, the weather forecast is going to be at least five knots less than the apparent wind, as you will be beating into it most of the time. Even on a 15 to 20-knot day, it's not unusual for us to see 28+ knots on the machine, once in a while.
I'd love an Asymmetrical spinnaker, but I'd probably use it two days a year. The eastern islands are laid out more or less north to south, not east to west, so you are very rarely running or reaching in the easterly winds.
Unless you do something stupid, like going into chartering, you can have a fairly pleasant sailing down here if you wait for the weather windows.
The advantage of the Yankee Jib is that it's a fairly large sail, but high cut so your visibility of other boats is very good, and there will be a lot of other boat traffic down here. Cruise ships, fishing boats, cruisers, bareboats (motorsailing or not; your guess is as good as mine) and small interisland cargo boats.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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