And a great start to the new sailing season was had by all. Our guests Mike and Nancy, nouveau sailors and wannabe cruisers, having graduated from their stateside basic keel boat course, decided that coming along with Bobbie Rae and I for a week of cruising the Virgin islands would be just the thing they needed to boost their confidence in their sailing abilities. None of us counted on the Christmas Winds starting up well before x-mass. As I went through their briefing, I checked Passage Weather (passage weather.com), and low and behold there was green everywhere. For those of you who may not know about the green in passage weather, suffice it to say that it meant that for most of their trip it would be blowing like stink! And blow it did. Being a relatively fair weather sailor myself, having gotten caught in all the big blows that I’d care to remember, and now always seeking the gentler breezes without all the adrenalin (less rum spillage arrrrrgh), I did my best to talk our intrepid guests out of going for it. No joy. Mike wanted to get behind the wheel and put the rail in the water. So, for lack of anything better to do, I acquiesced, and soon enough we were cruising along nose to the wind at 7-8 knots under reefed job and mizzen, with winds gusting in excess of 30 knots. Whooppeee! Didn’t bury the rail, nothing on Bel Ami broke, and Mike and Nancy got a good dose of heavy weather sailing and lived to talk about it. Whats next for these two? Maybe getting a small boat of their own pretty soon…?