We didn't have much experience with down-wind sailing during our cruising career. For some reason the much vaunted "fair winds and following seas" proved to be pretty elusive. In hopeful anticipation, however, we did do some research. Here's our thinking.
We mostly sailed to weather, until we finally arrived in the the Windward Islands. Then, we were thrilled to find winds where we could get some great reaches. We hoped to eventually circumnavigate the Atlantic, and anticipated a significant amount of down-wind and/or light-wind sailing during the course of that. We did some research by re-reading Beth Leonard's The Voyager's Handbook, Jim Howard's Handbook of Offshore Cruising, and various magazine articles in our files. We also read the Tayana listserv archives on Sailnet, and did an Internet search on "cruising spinnaker" and "down-wind sailing." Finally, we asked other cruisers what they did. Opinions were as varied as the sources we used. We thought that sometimes it would be best to tack downwind, although on other occasions going straight downwind might work. We thought that, when the time came and if the main was not in use, it would work well to hoist the trysail and sheet it down flat to counter rolling. We heard many a nauseating tale from boats who'd rolled all the way from Europe to the Caribbean. Didn't seem like a very pleasant time.
Callipygia was a cutter, and our sail inventory was:
As we saw it, our options were:
While one of us was hot to trot for option (4), due to financial constraints we finally settled for option (2) for our initially planned crossing to Europe, and had a luff pad sewn on the genoa while in Trinidad. We deferred a final decision until we were faced with a lengthy down-wind passage and had a better idea of the type of conditions we'd find. Sadly, we gave up our cruising career before that happened.
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