Our final day of sailing had us motoring out of the port of Miami into heavy seas (I got lucky again and was at the helm!). We then turned north towards Fort Lauderdale. We had south east winds directly pointing towards Fort Lauderdale so essentially we had the wind right on our back. We took this opportunity to sail Wing on Wing for a big chunk of our trip up the coast. Wing on Wing is a technique used when sailing directly downwind in which the sails are in opposite sides of the boat (one sail on the left and one on the right). This also required us to rig a “preventer” to prevent an accidental Jibe which could damage the boat, and we rigged another line to keep the Jib from collapsing. Sailing this way in heavy seas was pretty tough since it required the helmsman to be very attentive to shifting winds. We all took turns being at the helm. I think the captain was pretty impressed at how well we did and we kept the Wing on Wing configuration for a while. Then we began Jibing back and forth to avoid sailing off the wind.
We finally entered Port Everglades around 4pm and arrived at the marina by 5. Most of us were pretty tired so instead of partying we cooked in the boat and stayed in studying for our final test. Now I realized I forgot to mention that we took the tests for all of the ASA certifications during the week, with the final taking place on the final morning before we took off for the airport. So now I officially have the ASA 101, 103, 104 and 114 certifications!
Overall, I loved it. Was it worth it? Without a doubt. There is absolutely no way that I would have been able to gain the level of confidence and skills in this amount of time by simply going sailing with friends.
Is it enough? Of course not. The learning never ends and I am far from a competent skipper. This was just the first step on that journey. There are tons of more formal and informal sailing experiences in our near future and we hope we will soon feel ready to take a boat into the beautiful shores of the BVIs! But this course was really invaluable in setting up a strong foundation that we will now use to launch our sailing adventures!