Most of you can tell that Susan has been doing all of the writing and most of the photography. The reason for that is simple, she is better at both. Accepting these facts, I will just add some thoughts from my perspective.
We chose a good boat for this adventure. Spindrift is a safe, comfortable and surprisingly fast vessel. I spent most of the summer getting her ready for the journey. My friends at Obersheimers Sailor Supply and RCR Yachts were a great help. We replaced the older Raymarine electronics with new plotters, transducers, radar, autopilot and AIS from B&G and installed a new Icom VHF, we replaced running rigging and we installed air conditioning. Sue and I debated getting the air conditioning. She was really opposed but conceded to my wishes and now admits that it was a good decision. The new electronics have lots of great features. I'm still learning them but my favorites are the sail to wind angle function on the autopilot and the wind speed and direction plots.
The AIS is great for identifying and tracking vessels. It provides vessel information making communications easier and helps you avoid close encounters, you can check the speed and course of a competitor, or you can locate a friend in the next anchorage. It is really nice to have.
Close hauled is not Spindrifts favorite point of sail and tacking with the cutter rig is a chore. But, in our 1500 mile passage I think we tacked once and as soon as the sheets can be eased she cruises comfortably at 8-9 knots. On the last evening of our passage a cargo vessel showed up on AIS about 15 miles out. We watched our relative bearing for several minutes and it wasn't
changing. At the time we were sailing with reefed genoa and main doing 8.5 kts and enjoying one of Susan's good dinners. The wind was a little forward of our beam at 18 gusting into low 20's. We had options, we could either bear away or shake out the reefs and hold our course. We hated to rush our meal but we made the sacrifice, shook out our reefs and quickly gained speed. We contacted the cargo vessel to inform them of our location and intentions. Andy and I were on watch. I took the helm away from the auto pilot and Andy began to actively trim the main. It was a great hour of sailing. We maintained 9.5 -10.5 knots and hit a passage high of 11.6. We crossed safely 1.5 miles in front of the freighter. The fun hour tempted us to keep pushing but age and wisdom convinced us to reduce sail. Five hours later we arrived in Tortola and the end of our passage.